In a major response from city council to the recent tragedies on Hamilton streets, council has overwhelmingly approved a motion for immediate action to improve safety along the Main and King Street corridors.
Most significantly, the motion from Ward 1 Coun. Maureen Wilson and Ward 3 Coun. Nrinder Nann asks staff to report back early next year with an implementation plan for the two-way conversion of Main Street through the city core.
Wilson notes that the conversion of Main Street from one-way to two-way traffic is inevitable once a 14-kilometre light rail transit (LRT) line is built from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.
“The question is, do we wait until we are compelled to do it, and while we wait, more people die,” Wilson said during Wednesday’s meeting of Hamilton city council.
Eleven pedestrians have been killed already this year on Hamilton’s streets and sidewalks, surpassing the total for all of 2021.
Nann remembered some of the recent victims, “an esteemed maestro, teenagers, seniors, people with disabilities — my sincere condolences to all of their loved ones.”
The motion also asks staff to identify immediate “complete streets” improvements that can be taken along the Main and King Street corridors.
Those safety improvements could range from expanded pedestrian space to the removal of parking restrictions, reduced speed limits and changes to the synchronization of traffic lights.
The city will also have to consult with the province, related to impacts of the two-way conversion on both LRT construction and the Highway 403 interchanges.
“This is, yes, about neighbourhoods, this is, yes, about livelihoods, but more than anything else, this is about saving lives,” Wilson added.
Between 50 and 100 people briefly held up traffic in front of city hall on Wednesday morning to support safety improvements on Hamilton streets.
“Our goal was not to inconvenience drivers to the point of being unable to go where they’re going, but to bring attention to it and make our point a little louder,” pedestrian advocate Chris Ritsma said.