SIDEWALK SOUNDOFF – We get political here sometimes at BlogHamilton. This time we’re taking local civic planners to task with the complete and utter lack of innovation when it comes to street furniture – and specifically – bicycle-based street furniture.
Locally, there’s a few installations worth noting. In Burlington, there’s several bicycle repair stations along the downtown trail network. Also, Hamilton has a solar-powered smartphone charging station in a park in the Barton Village while way out west in Edmonton, Alberta they are bringing similar smart chargers to park benches.
This summer, the Yaletown neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia is introducing free public outdoor WiFi in that city.
Basically at heart of the issue is that politicians responsible for public furniture procurement need to focus on building better, more usable cities. Take trends in cycling for instance. Fat-tire bikes and winter biking are becoming more popular in our urban centres, yet outside of one highly controversial climate-controlled 24-hour bike locker in downtown Toronto, planners are NOT making it easier for citizens to adopt a lifestyle that reduces stress on the environment.
Clearly the appetite for expanding what and how we define public space and activity is changing as technology, hearts, minds, climate… as well as family incomes, adapt for a dynamic economy.
So here’s the challenge. Someone out there design a better bicycle rack. Something that incorporates security, fitness tracking, competition and social media and is not simply just an afterthought, thrown haphazardly into public space design where the only differential is colour of paint.
Because locking your $5000 bike to a hunk of metal worth fifty dollars seems a little ridiculous.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO – Nestled within a geological formation that created the whole of Dundas Valley, the Earth around these parts is made green by a serious Greenbelt that blazes in concert with The Escarpment.
As competition for recreation space drives Southern Ontario residents further afield into the natural environs to find community entertainment, a whole new appreciation for outdoorsy adventuring awaits newcomers, travellers and those who find peace with nature.
Serenity within the region is impossible NOT to find.
GALT, ONTARIO – While there is considerable resistance in the community to change, the transformation of the Southworks industrial property heritage area into the Gaslight District will bring jobs, newcomers and the potential for big bucks to this part of Cambridge.
While some condominium development owners are taking a more frank approach against NIMBYism when it comes to needed densification, the smart money is on educating and winning over those opposed to the development as to the benefits the community will reap.
Simply put, this part of Ontario needs the G word. Gentrification. And while it’s not really local blight and urban decay to be gentrified, it’s a part of town that rarely sees any foot traffic. In a new world built on respect-for-transit and its’ role in shaping our community, local homeowners will eventually come on board when they find out their housing values have increased several-fold and the city is far better off for welcoming an influx of new residents.
If the planned Light Rapid Transit link to Kitchener-Waterloo ever sees the light of day in these parts, you can bet the community will change much more dramatically over the next few years.
As people become accustomed to new construction – residential and commercial – we can only hope those speaking out of concern for their community now will continue to be as engaged in the future. Heritage and opportunity voices need to be listened to in creating a welcome balance that will shape our collective future.
PHOTO: Riverfront Galt heritage vista with condominium playing support role.
PUBLIC TRANSIT – The expansion of this city to incorporate and promote neighborhood-building is stalled by a lack of vision when it comes to bringing reliable, all-day transportation from Cambridge to the rest of Southern Ontario through all-day GO Transit service.
If the city continues to grow, and thousands of new transit-minded citizens flock to communities in the area to escape the high costs of living elsewhere in the province, eventually something is going to break. Too many cars on roads buckling under the weight of a car culture.
Supporting public transit is the happy medium whereby good Canadians can invest in their community infrastructure to transform our civic landscapes.
The anti-construction, anti-development folks will resist as some will want olde Cambridge to stay the way it is. But history either passes us by or falls on the sword of capitulation to changing ways.
Could our neighborhoods support the influx of thousands of new residents? Small and medium-sized businesses will grow – and investment in province-building will ultimately result in a new Galt, Hespeler, Preston and Blair.
PHOTO: Union Station, Toronto, Canada
SOUTHERN ONTARIO – Tim Hortons is a Canadian-loved institution. Within the chain of stores, there are Landmark locations. Overseas they call them Bake Shoppes. But locally we have some diversity in building styles including the original FIRST STORE in Hamilton, Ontario.
Now comes news that the company will be opening a Hockey Hall Of Fame SPECIAL EDITION in Toronto, downtown. This is good news for community-building.
Why? TimsTV is ready for adventure crafting if they would only build an interactive app that allowed fans and followers to submit coffee (not Covfefe) lifestyle photo captures and selfies for display on the LED display matrixes in each store.
Seriously… build a better app than competing coffee brands and put some more Canadiana in stores. Surely these network-driven terminals are capable of interactive story-telling and neighborhood promos.
If competing brands are intent on carving out their own identity by employing gimmicky loyalty cards and individual-store Instagram branding, certainly our beloved Tims can integrate the Wi-Fi selfie lifestyle for some non-monolithic brand efforts.
All I want to see is localized in-store selfie contests with winner take home a Keurig.
PHOTO – Tim Hortons, Yonge and Front Street, Toronto
OYSTER CITY – Okay, importing oysters to the middle of your average Ontario Farm Market may be a luxury for cityfolk, but it’s par for the course in crafting the marketing behind bringing people to your market and keeping them there.
Is there turbulence on the horizon? What will the impact of a fifteen dollar an hour wage have on our area markets and farms who scrape by with the high costs of tractors, transportation, labour, etc.?
Prediction is for more Farm Co-Ops and the added benefit of employing folks who are invested in caring for the literal growth of the markets in Southern Ontario.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO TRAVEL – I read somewhere online that the only way to travel to Galt – the amazing place where they shot The Handmaid’s Tale – is to take a GO Transit bus straight out of CF Square One in Mississauga (smack in the dab of the middle of the Credit Valley). Whatever. Find yourself near Guelph if you can, take the bus to Aberfoyle and bike to Cambridge along the back roads. Oh yeah, rest in Aberfoyle on Sundays in the Summer for the required local antiquing experience.
The town is very Instagrammable and plenty of clock towers and church structures to capture.
While it is a miracle if you can find a coach bus to get here, once you arrive you’ll wish the Ontario government would hurry up and finish the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system extension to Galt which will arrive some time later next decade.
PHOTO – Olde Galt Train Station