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Bus-only lane 2:02

A King Street West landlord hopes council takes another look Wednesday at a plan to have a bus-only lane through Hamilton's downtown.

Konstantine Takis, who owns a stretch of commercial property on the northwest corner of King and Bay, says the plan will hurt businesses on the street. It will also leave his tenants with nowhere to load, and nowhere for customers to park.

"We're afraid it's going to impact us in the way of closures, difficulty re-renting, difficulty with deliveries and the safety factor," said Takis, who has owned the buildings since the late 1970s.

"Hamilton is a pretty sensitive market, especially downtown. Luckily we've been able to sustain some viability here. It looks like we're doing a good job, but we'd like to maintain it the way it is."

The city's public works committee initially voted down the $300,000 pilot project, which would mean a dedicated bus lane along a two-kilometre stretch of King Street between Mary and Dundurn.

But council reversed that decision on May 22. The year-long project will start in September.

People flock to big box stores because it's easy to park, Takis said. With this project, it makes it more difficult for people to shop at the nine stores in his buildings.

He also worries about safety since buses move fast. With a bus-only lane, "the bus has an exclusivity that's going to make him go faster," he said.

Currently, delivery drivers park in the lane in front of the shop. Having them park farther away is not feasible, Takis said.

Worried about decreasing business

Council will receive Takis's letter Wednesday, which includes a petition with about 20 merchants along his section of King Street West. Among them is Salim Mouloud, owner of The Original Barber at 160 King St. W. He thinks the lane will hurt businesses that already need more parking.

"Business will go down," he said. "In asking clients, all of them have said this is a bad idea."

Coun. Jason Farr, who represents Ward 2 downtown, says council will likely receive the correspondence with no further action. Since it has already passed, it would require two thirds of councillors voting in favour of putting it back on the table.

Farr hears Takis's concerns, he said. Farr visited about 19 business owners along his stretch the day before the council vote, which he acknowledges was late in the process. But most were in favour.

He also presented it to the King Street West BIA last year, he said. And it's in the public Rapid Ready report, which council passed earlier this year.

'Stop talking and start doing'

He appeals to business owners against the plan to give it a shot. Farr wants to hear concerns throughout the year.

"I will appeal to the sensitivities of those on the other side throughout this year-long pilot," he said. "If there is dust and there is speeding buses, we'll take care of it."

The initiative helps make downtown more pedestrian and transit friendly, Farr said.

"We need to stop talking and start doing when it comes to improving things like pedestrianization and transportation in the city."

City council starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Other issues that will be ratified at the meeting: