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Ward 9 Councillor Brad Clark says council needs to move on construction of the nine streets approved for two-way conversion (Jessica Young/CBC)

The two-way streets debate goes back to Council Wednesday, despite being left off the budget books for 2014.

Wednesday’s general issues committee – which includes councillors from all wards – will resume the debate on a dramatic five-year plan to convert many of the lower city’s one-way streets to two ways, after putting off discussion of the strategy in December.

The plan is the next stage in major remaking of the city's streets network that began just over a decade ago.

Most noteworthy on the list is converting Main Street West and King Street West from Dundurn to the Delta where the two streets meet, although the King conversion discussion is on hold because of the potential impact of an LRT line.

Other potential conversions: Bay Street, Queen Street, and Cannon Street West from Wilson to Sherman Avenue.

In fact, nearly every major one-way street in Hamilton’s lower city is included on “future conversions under consideration” by staff.

The debate will put councillors who advocate for the conversions as way to enhance the downtown and neighbourhoods versus those who worry about impeding the flow of traffic in the city.

The plan is the next stage in major remaking of the city's streets network that began just over a decade ago. The meeting could result in a decision on what Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr called the “low-hanging fruit” – nine lower-city streets council has already agreed to convert at a total cost of $1.1 million.

Despite agreeing to make the conversions, council did not allocate any funds for their construction in the 2014 budget passed in April.

Streets approved for two-way conversion:

  • Bold Street from James Street South to Queen Street South
  • Caroline Street South from King Street West to York Boulevard.
  • Duke Street from James Street South to Queen Street South.
  • Hess Street from York Boulevard to Barton Street West.
  • Hughson Street North from Wilson Street to Barton Street East.
  • John Street North from Stachan Street East to Burlington Street East.
  • King William Street from John Street North to Wellington Street North.
  • Park Street North from York Boulevard to Barton Street West.
  • Rebecca Street from John Street North to Wellington Street North.

Farr suggested the money could be found in next year’s budget, but he was reluctant to predict what could happen when council reopens the debate Wednesday.

“We’ve had a great deal of committee debate on this to date and based on that, it’s a wait and see for me for tomorrow,” Farr said.

Ward 9 Councillor Brad Clark said he doesn’t believe council has come to any agreements in the four and a half month delay since the issues was last at the general issues committee.

“I don’t think there’s been any coordinated effort to come to a resolution one way or the other,” Clark said.

Although they hail from opposite sides of the two-way street debate, in the larger picture, both councillors appear eager to move on the nine streets approved for two-way conversion, so long as there’s a plan to fund the construction.

“I earnestly and sincerely hope that the ideology is set aside for a moment and people acknowledge that a significant amount of work have been done on two way conversations already and that we have more work approved and ready to go,” Clark said. “Let’s finish that job and then look at future conversions after.”

Since the debate was deferred in December, Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie introduced a motion to strike a citizen panel to discuss two-way street conversions at the general issues committee in early April. The motion never made it through council, and was nixed a week later. 

Click on the boxes to scroll through a timeline of Hamilton's one-way streets