Kids voted on how to spend $1M on Hamilton street projects

Kids are "the ultimate pedestrians," one politician says. That's why their votes were given equal weight in how to spend $1 million.

Kids are 'the ultimate pedestrians,' Jason Farr says, so their votes were given equal weight

Hamilton resident Tom Flood (@tomflood1) took this photo of his five-year-old son, Oliver, riding on Herkimer Street on the way home from school. "We bike every day to school and (it) has been amazing to have that infrastructure go in," Flood says. (Courtesy of Tom Flood)

The city will spend $1 million on projects in lower Hamilton based in part on the votes of kids.

They're the ultimate pedestrians.- Coun . Jason Farr

The city is earmarking 17 projects for safer streets, including pedestrian crossings, new traffic signals and repaired bike lanes.

The projects were chosen through an initiative called PlanLocal Ward 2, which saw Coun. Jason Farr put ballot boxes at local schools. He also encouraged kids to vote online.

Their votes held equal weight to the votes of adults, Farr said, because kids can identify safety problems with local streets as much as anyone.

"They have very grown up ideas, and they know their streets just as well as their moms and dads," he said.

"They're the ultimate pedestrians."

In one case, Farr said, a child mentioned that a bush needed to be trimmed so he could see oncoming cars when he tried to cross the street.

"I shot off an email, and we had that bush trimmed in a day," he said.

The $1 million is Ward 2 area-rating money. In previous years, Farr used a participatory budgeting process to determine how it would be spent.

The PlanLocal effort included voting stations at Bennetto and Dr. Davey schools. The team also sent information home with thousands of students.

More than 1,300 kids and adults voted. City council still has to approve the projects.

Farr said he doesn't foresee any problems with that.

Even Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8, who has sparred with Farr over recent bicycle lanes and traffic-calming changes on Herkimer and Charlton streets, said he thought it was "a good list."

Whitehead said waste collection and emergency services staff, among others, have had issues with the Herkimer and Charlton changes. Farr sent an email to city staff (published at the pro-transit and complete streets site Raise the Hammer) in response.

Whitehead said his main issue is when changes are made that impact vehicle traffic on arterial roads.

Sample of Ward 2 projects voted on by kids and others:

Barton and James: Restrict right turns on the red and possibly redesign the intersection for better sight lines.

Charlton and James: Install ladder crossings and better signs, and evaluate adding another crossing.

Cannon and Mary: Install a ladder crossing and better signs.

Stinson: Resurface the street from Wellington to Wentworth to repair the bike lanes.

​Burlington and James: Install a three-phase signal. This will also happen at Ferguson and Main and Forest and John.

Picton at Hughson and John: Add enhanced all-way stops.