Hamilton is forming a study team to look at creating more two-way streets in the lower city.
The group will specifically look at converting Queen and Cannon streets. It will include councillors and community groups from wards one, two and three, and any other councillors who want to join.
The city's general issues committee approved the group after a lengthy debate Thursday afternoon. Councillors Brian McHattie and Jason Farr introduced the concept, saying that more two-way streets downtown bring a better quality of life for its rising creative community.
“When I talk to the creative class, a great many are telling me that two-way corresponds with a higher quality of life,” Farr said. “That's their opinion and I've heard that loud and clear.”
'There are lots of folks in wards one, two and three who want to see things happen a little bit quicker than they have.'— Coun. Brian McHattie
There is, Farr said, “a plethora of evidence” that more streets should be converted to two-way.
But other councillors disagreed. When McHattie and Farr introduced the motion, it was to form a “two-way street implementation team,” but other councillors objected.
Coun. Brad Clark, who represents ward nine in Stoney Creek, said two-way traffic hinders small business.
“I have a little trouble with a 'plethora' of experts who want two-way street conversion because there are just as many people who like one-way streets,” he said.
“The slower the traffic goes, the more expensive it is to operate regional trade businesses.”
Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster objected to the notion that converting Hamilton's major downtown thoroughfares to two-way only impacts the downtown.
He supports the conversion of secondary streets, he said, but “when you start dealing with Cannon, Main, King and Queen, you're dealing with the entire city.”
But Farr said converting Queen and Cannon expands on an idea that's already working. He pointed to James, John and Wilson streets as spots where it has worked.
With the protest from other councillors, “you would think the original motion contained aspects where you put spikes on the road as you enter the core of the city,” Farr said.
McHattie said he preferred the "implementation team" wording because it had more of a sense of urgency.
“There are lots of folks in wards one, two and three who want to see things happen a little bit quicker than they have,” he said.
The study group will provide input into an environment assessment, which is necessary to convert one-way streets into two-way ones. The study will likely be funded in the 2013 budget.