New north end speed limit not a speed trap, Farr says

The new 30 km/h speed limit in Hamilton's north end will not be used as a speed trap for police to ticket motorists, says Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2.

30 km/h speed limit comes into effect in Hamilton's north end Monday

Dozens of north-end residents came out to see the new 30 km/h signs formally unveiled on Monday morning. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The new 30 km/h speed limit in Hamilton's north end will not be used as a speed trap for police to ticket motorists, says Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr.

"We're a long way away from requesting enforcement from police," Farr said after new speed limit signs and a welcome sign for the north end were unveiled Monday morning. "We have no intention of out of the gates setting up enforcement and ticketing folks that are doing 40 in a 30 at this point."

"We'll very comfortably and slowly get through the first year or two of this five-year pilot, and we'll make sure it's more of an awareness campaign and not a cash grab."

The posted maximum in the north end is now 30 km/h for all roads in the area bound by Bay Street to the west, Strachan to the south, Wellington to the east and the waterfront to the north. This excludes James Street North and Burlington Street East.

"This is an extraordinary moment," said north-end resident Herman Turkstra at the unveiling. "This is a profound, cultural change. It's taking back our streets."

The move is a victory for residents of the area and especially North End Neighbours, the community organization that's lobbied for years to have traffic calming measures imposed.

"We've worked long and hard on this," said Dave Stephens, the group's president.

He says the highly residential area has seen a greater influx of traffic in recent years.

'Definitely going to lengthen my trip'

But not everyone is beaming about the change. Kathy Chamoun expects her daily commute to take a bit longer from now on — and she's not happy about it.

"It's definitely going to lengthen my trip," said Chamoun, a program coordinator at a not-for-profit, which she declined to name. "It already takes me 25 minutes coming down the Mountain and it shouldn't."

The speed limit reduction, Chamoun said, will discourage her from coming down to the north end for any other purpose than for work. But Farr says he hasn't heard too many people complaining about the change.

"I've heard one of two folks say 'well, I'm not going down to the waterfront anymore, I'm not driving 30 k.'" Farr said. "But obviously, the appeal saw a compromise in the James Street and Burlington Street East sections."

Traffic management plan

The speed limit reduction is one of a handful of measures the city is implementing as part of its North End Traffic Management Plan. The five-year pilot project has already seen a stretch of MacNab North between Cannon and Burlington converted to a two-way street.

About a decade in the making, the plan represents part of a balancing act the city has had to perform, weighing its renewed interest in building on the waterfront — and using it as a city-wide tourist draw — with the wishes of neighbourhood residents.

In its Setting Sail plan, the city identified growth in the area as one key to Hamilton's economic prosperity over the next few decades. The call has sparked concerns among community members who fear development will disrupt their quality of life.

However, the implementation of the traffic plan doesn't represent a full-on victory for North End Neighbours. It had made an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board after council voted against including James North and Burlington East in the 30 km/h zone. In December, the OMB dismissed the claim, allowing the city's traffic management plan to proceed.

Despite the OMB loss, Stephens said he's generally happy with the implementation of the plan. "What we have done so far has actually slowed the traffic down."

"They've actually had a few kids out playing street hockey," said Stephens, noting the sight would have been unthinkable before June.

The speed limit reduction affects the area highlighted in red. (Kevin Gamble/CBC)

With files from Cory Ruf