Draft complete streets policy adds to momentum in Hamilton

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 by Sara Mayo

On June 26, the SPRC hosted an event to gather feedback about a draft Complete Streets policy for Hamilton. The success of this event is one of many indicators of momentum for Complete Streets in Hamilton and beyond.

Complete Streets policies have been adopted in over 500 communities in North America. A Complete Street is designed for all ages, abilities, and modes of travel. A Complete Street policy ensures that safe and comfortable access for pedestrians, bicycles, transit users and the mobility-impaired is not an afterthought, but an integral planning feature.

One of the items that got the most positive feedback at our event was a section of the policy that stated that “Complete Streets shall contribute to reducing the social, health and economic impacts of disparities between Hamilton’s neighbourhoods.” Most of the draft policy text is adapted from parts of policies from other cities, but this explicit equity call would be a “made-in-Hamilton” innovation to include in a Complete Streets policy.

Equity issues are one of the main reasons the SPRC is involved in the Complete Streets issue. The built environment is an important social determinant of health, as we reported in a report last year, titled “7+ ways your neighbourhood can improve your health”, and has a disproportionate impact on groups living on low income, or facing stigmatization and discrimination. We are presently working on a new report which will present striking data about the equity impacts of our current urban design, which will be released in the Fall.

In the meantime, we welcome more feedback about this draft policy (PDF). This draft policy includes the Ten Policy Elements recommended by Complete Streets for Canada:

  • Strong language and intent
  • All users and modes
  • Applies to all projects
  • Clear exception procedures
  • Encourages connectivity
  • Cites use of latest and best design criteria
  • States community context
  • Performance measures
  • Adoptable across jurisdictions (less applicable to Hamilton than to Regional Municipalities)

 You are welcome to leave feedback about this policy through the comments on this page, or you can email myself, Sara Mayo, directly: smayo@sprc.hamilton.on.ca or by phone: 905-522-1148 x. 310. The final draft policy will be presented to Hamilton’s City Council in September.

Complete Streets is becoming understood by more and more organizations, businesses and residents across Hamilton as a key to improving health, quality of life and economic opportunities. But to achieve this potential, we must ensure that Hamilton adopts a robust and comprehensive complete streets policy and the SPRC will be doing its part to advance the public conversation in the months to come.

If readers are interested in more information about Complete Streets, take a look a video we showed and two of the presentations from our event:



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