A Mountain councillor says he’s worried that lower-city transit enthusiasts will “hijack” a crucial transportation study when traffic problems are worse above the escarpment.

Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 says the Mountain has numerous problems, such as stretches of road so congested that they result in long waits.

But he’s worried that lower-city activists of issues such as two-way streets will dominate the city’s review of its transportation master plan. The city will hold three sets of meetings this year for public input.

Congestion on roads such as Upper James and Rymal bring traffic to a standstill, Whitehead said. And he doesn’t want all the attention put on the lower city.

“I’m very excited about this process,” he said. “I’ve been pushing for it. I just want to make sure this process doesn’t get hijacked. That’s my biggest concern.”

'There’s a whole silent majority that hasn’t been part of anything that’s been going on in the city for various reasons. They’re raising families and they’re employed....They’re disconnected with what’s happening in the lower city and we need to connect.' - Coun. Terry Whitehead, Ward 8

Whitehead made the comments on Wednesday after a general issues committee meeting. At the meeting, city project manager Steve Molloy and John McGill of Core Engineering laid out how they’ll review and update the plan, which includes two-way street conversions, transit and road network corridors.

The city is spending about $530,000 to update the plan, much of which is used to hire four consultants — Cole Engineering, BrookMcIlroy, David Kriger Consultants Inc. and McPhail Transportation Planning Services.

But some of it will be to hold public input sessions. That ratio of meetings held on the Mountain concerned Whitehead.

“It concerns me that… two thirds of the population is located outside the lower city corridor and yet the majority of your consultation to start with is in the lower city,” Whitehead said.

Include the Mountain in Queen Street conversations

“Please do whatever you can to ensure every reach of this community has an opportunity to be engaged without travelling miles to be there.”

Molloy said the team has a list of 92 possible ways to engage people, and it will select ways that reach the broadest number possible.

“That’s always a challenge with any project,” he said. “There are lots of different voices out there. Sometimes typical meetings turn people off. We want to go where people are and raise awareness and get that conversation going.”

Whitehead wants to make sure the plan differentiates between local and regional roads. Any street that connects the lower city to the Mountain is a regional road, he said.

“If you’re going to tinker with Queen Street, you want to make sure people on the Mountain are involved in that conversation,” Whitehead said.

A list of future public meetings

“There’s a whole silent majority that hasn’t been part of anything that’s been going on in the city for various reasons. They’re raising families and they’re employed. There are many reasons why. They’re disconnected with what’s happening in the lower city and we need to connect.”

Here are the first planned public meetings for City in Motion: Hamilton's Transportation Master Plan:

  • Monday, March 23, 
Art Gallery of Hamilton
, 123 King St. W.
  • Tuesday, March 24, 
Chedoke Presbyterian Church
, 865 Mohawk Rd. W. 
  • Wednesday, March 25, 
Battlefield House Museum and Park, 
77 King St. W., Stoney Creek
  • Thursday, March 26, 
Emmanuel United Church
, 871 Upper Ottawa St.

These meetings will focus on the city’s existing strategy and transportation targets.

There will be more public sessions in June 2015 to talk complete streets and review street conversations, and in November to look at final recommendations.

The results will go to council in early 2016.