Even walking on the sidewalk isn't safe on Upper James: Skelly

The Ward 7 councillor will ask city council Wednesday to look at making the street safer. Also: Century Manor and city-wide Wi-Fi. Follow council debates live here starting at 5 p.m.

Ward 7 councillor will ask city council Wednesday to look at making the street safer. Follow council live here

A group fighting to save Century Manor wants the city to buy it from the province. The city is interested too. Council will discuss it Wednesday. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Pedestrian-friendly streets aren't just a lower city concern. One Mountain councillor says Upper James Street is too dangerous to walk on in some places, and she wants it fixed.

Donna Skelly, Ward 7 councillor, says she wants the city to investigate how it can make the major Mountain street safer for pedestrians — but without impeding the vehicle traffic flow. Right now, she said, there are areas where people fear getting hit by vehicles even when they're on the sidewalk. 

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"It's really dangerous when you walk on it," she said, citing "narrow pinch points" where the sidewalks are too slender. "It's intimidating to go for a walk on Upper James.

"It's not the most attractive street in the city. In fact, I'd suggest it's one of the least attractive. I want to make it a safer experience."

Skelly will bring up the issue at a city council meeting on Wednesday. Potential fixes, she said, may be trees or a modified streetscape.

Many seniors and students walk on the street, she said. "It's important for us to recognize that people do walk in that area."

The issue of safer streets has been a tense one at city council at times. In particular, Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 has spoken against changes to lower-city streets. Most recently, he has spoken against changes at Herkimer and Charlton, and Aberdeen Avenue.

Whitehead has said that not only do local street changes impact the whole city, but that areas of the Mountain lack basic amenities such as sidewalks.

He is seconding Skelly's motion Wednesday.

Here's what else is on the agenda:

  • Century Manor Task Force 2 is asking city council to do whatever it can to acquire Century Manor, an 1884 heritage building that is one of the remaining structures from the old Hamilton Asylum for the Insane. The city is interested in buying the land at the St. Joseph's Healthcare West 5th campus.
  • A pilot project to install public Wi-Fi at Gage Park for a year. City staff will look at doing it on a city-wide basis.
  • Council heard a presentation last week about a picnic on the T. B. McQuesten High-Level Bridge. The picnic next June, organized by local industrialist Patrick Bermingham, will raise money for the Cootes to Escarpment eco-park.
  • Councillors also asked for an update on a plan for the future John/Rebecca Park, located in the same place as Club Seventy-Seven. Neighbours are pushing for the park after recent violent incidents at the club.
  • Ratifying operating spray pads for longer, so they begin on the last week of May or in a stage one heat advisory, whichever is earlier. This will cost $87,300.

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will tweet live from the meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Follow her at @SamCraggsCBC or in the window above.


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