A survey of Hamiltonians found widespread support for an “open streets” pilot project that would see King Street East closed to vehicular traffic between Gage and Gore parks for a one-day street festival.
But the idea will have to wait until next summer, as city staff does not have enough time to turn a stretch of one of the city’s busiest roads into a “temporary linear urban park” this year.
Council approved the Gage-to-Gore open streets idea in principle in May but told staff to gather resident feedback.
Of the 986 survey responses, 86 per cent were in favour of closing the road to traffic for at least one summertime weekend day, while 13 per cent were opposed, according to a report prepared by transportation planning director Brian Hollingworth that will be presented to councillors at Thursday’s meeting of the general issues committee.
Twelve respondents were undecided.
The positive response rate jumps to 90 per cent when only considering the three postal codes that encompass the proposed route of the urban park between Gage and Gore. Those neighbourhoods saw a high response rate in the survey, staff noted.
Residents who live or work in the area were strongly in favour of closing the road to traffic.
People who travel along King were also supportive, though that segment did account for 74 of the no votes, along with 295 in favour.
The survey found closing King for the day would prompt the vast majority of respondents to walk, cycle or take transit to get downtown. On a normal day, most respondents said they would most likely drive.
The staff report says many residents in favour of the pilot project want to see more accessible public spaces whose purpose is “creating more space for people and decreasing the number of cars downtown, increasing safety, reducing noise, and benefiting the environment.”
Residents’ ideas for how to fill a car-free King include open-air markets, buskers, food and drink vendors, public art, games and pop-up installations.
As planning continues, city staff will consult with emergency services, the downtown BIA and business owners and residents along the proposed route.
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator