A ‘Friendly Streets’ panel discussion

On June 27th the Afro Canadian Caribbean Association, Environment Hamilton, and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion hosted a panel discussion as part of the ‘Friendly Streets for Black, Indigenous and Racialized Communities’ Inititiative.

This event featured speakers from several different organizations/communities in the “Hamilton” region sharing their perspectives on what “friendly streets” means to them. Within the context of when, where and who we are the speakers shared what things have impacted their development.

The Friendly Streets For People Of Colour Initiative

The Friendly Streets for BIPOC initiative aims to educate and bring awareness about  the challenges  that  Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) communities face when moving through Hamilton streets,and to draw attention that “ not all streets are safe or welcoming to BIPOC communities “ .

 The idea is to highlight active transportation concerns specific to the Hamilton BIPOC community, and by doing so, uplift the experiences of people of colour using this mode of  transportation in downtown neighbourhoods. We also want to engage BIPOC people in conversations about walkability and bikeability in urban Hamilton as well as explore potential solutions to barriers.

Friendly Streets for People Of Colour is in partnership with HCCI (Hamilton Center For Civic Inclusion) and ACCA (Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association)

Introducing the Friendly Streets for BIPOC Initiative

When it comes to active transportation and mobility across North American cities, Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) communities are often targets of racism and discrimination, and they experience these struggles daily, with racial profiling, hate crimes, police brutality to name a few examples. These issues can affect an individual’s efficiency and enjoyment of navigating through a city safely. Hamilton is no different.

Hamilton is vibrant and busy city with many places to see and things to do. Hundreds of people walk and roll around the city to get to the places they need to. But after gathering some preliminary research and hearing a little about the experiences of some BIPOC persons in Hamilton, the use of active transportation is proving to be unsafe for these communities.

According to research done by McMaster Research Shop, BIPOC communities also face other challenges such as lack of access to green infrastructure, poor neighborhood quality, air quality, and sidewalk walkability within their neighborhoods. These challenges decrease the quality of life for these communities.

Everyone should be able to walk, cycle, and enjoy their neighborhood without any hassle. We should aim to create safe everyday travel for these communities, helping to create inclusive, welcoming spaces for all people. 

It is essential to include BIPOC communities in conversations about active transportation to understand how they are being affected and what can be done to support them- giving a place where they can share their individual experiences and concerns will help ensure that they are heard.

Our Children Deserve Safe and Liveable Streets


From the Nest, Issue 2
by Beatrice Ekoko

In the early 60s, Beach Boulevard was a thundering truck route, even though the Burlington Skyway, which had been open for some time, was the appropriate route for industrial truck traffic.

Mothers who lived along the boulevard gathered together, their babies in buggies, older siblings clinging on to handlebars, and they raised a ruckus of their own, saying “no more”. No more would they allow their children’s lives to be put at risk by dangerous trucks. They blocked the passage of trucks, causing traffic havoc. A few months later, trucks were banned from using Beach Boulevard.

I’ve thought about this story often over the last few years, as I work with the Beasley neighbourhood community to correct an all too similar scenario.

Friendly Streets Delegation to School Board Trustees

In February, a number of the Friendly Streets Beasley Working group members wrote delegations to the HWDSB Trustees about the need for their support for traffic calming and pedestrian safety on Wilson Street, at the Dr. Davey Elementary School. We are pleased that the Board of Trustees voted to engage on the issue. Here is a link to the article. Below is Environment Hamilton/Friendly Streets delegation.

To: Trustees, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Re: Requesting your support for traffic calming and pedestrian safety on Wilson Street, at the Dr. J. E. Davey Elementary School 

February 14, 2021: Thank you for the opportunity to ‘delegate.’ I am the Project Manager of Friendly Streets Hamilton, an initiative of Environment Hamilton in partnership with Cycle Hamilton with the goal of creating safer, more vibrant streets for walking and rolling. Since 2017, we have been engaging residents and diverse community stakeholders in building capacity and local leadership for better designed, connected, greener, healthier, and more equitable neighbourhood streets. Our project links residents, stakeholders, city staff, and elected officials. Project partners include the Beasley Neighbourhood Association, Gibson-Landsdale Neighbourhood Association, Hamilton General Hospital, Beautiful Alleys, Smart Commute Hamilton, Barton Village BIA, School Council at Dr. Davey Elementary School, Trees for Hamilton, The City of Hamilton, CityLAB students, Hamilton Bike Share’s (SoBi) Everyone Rides initiative, McMaster University’s MacChangers, McMaster Academic Sustainability Programs Office, Green Venture, in addition to a variety of informal relationships with community groups and members.

We began our Friendly Streets work in 2017 as a pilot project around the Hamilton General Hospital (Barton Street) and into the adjacent neighbourhoods of Beasley and Gibson-Landsdale (GALA). We are excited that our efforts have resulted in a Hospital Zone for the General Hospital, including the implementation of specific treatments to enhance roadway safety and traffic calming, a designated ‘Community Safety Zone’ and the installation of enhanced pedestrian crosswalks, an upcoming signed bike path to Hospital (east-west connection starting from Ferguson Ave, with visitor bike parking planned), signage enhancements, pavement markings, traffic calming bump-outs and pedestrian countdown timers. Completed already is a pedestrian-activated traffic signal that was installed and commissioned in May 2020 at the intersection of Victoria Avenue North and Copeland Avenue. 

As well, with members of our Hospital Zone Steering Committee, we planted trees around the campus, and are working to create a green space on Birge Avenue. Based on the evaluation and review of the proposed measures after they have been installed, Transportation Operations & Maintenance will examine if similar enhancements would be suitable to be applied at the other hospitals in the City.

Alas, aside from a greening Cannon project with community partners to depave and plant greenery on the Good Shepherd Venture Centre (from Mary St. to Ferguson St.), these exciting changes do not extend to the work we have been doing with the Beasley neighborhood, and specifically, the work concerning the Dr. Davey Elementary School’s serious lack of pedestrian safety on Wilson Street.

Unfriendly Wilson Street

Wilson Street at Dr. Davey School has very few street safety designs, such as no signalized pedestrian crossing, for students crossing over to the school. Its sidewalks are extremely narrow and uneven along the school zone (actually, from James St. to Ferguson). 

Of greatest concern to the Beasley residents and members of our group with children who attend the Dr. Davey School is that Wilson Street is a heavily used full-time, industrial truck route (eastbound). Industrial truck traffic contributes drastically to already compromised air quality: Hamilton has some of the highest levels of harmful respirable particulate pollution (PM2.5) in the province – a fact confirmed by data collected at the three provincial Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks (MECP) air quality health index stations in the city. One of these AQHI stations is in downtown Hamilton – right in Beasley Park–within an area highly impacted by air pollution. 

Healthy Streets Include Street Trees

Which do you prefer; walking on a tree-lined street–those tall, gorgeous beings providing blessed shade from the glaring sun–or a street without a tree in sight? Yep, we thought so. Currently, Hamilton’s urban tree canopy is at only 21%, with a target of increasing it to 30% by 2050, which we think is waaaaaayyy too weak.

Hamilton’s urban forest includes all of the publicly and privately owned trees and supporting vegetation in the urban area. The urban forest includes more than Hamilton’s natural areas. Individual trees and groups of trees along streets, in backyards, parks, and commercial areas in Hamilton’s urban boundary are also part of the urban forest.

Urban Forest Strategy Draft

Healthy, enhanced tree canopy is critical for community well being and climate resilience (a no-brainer, nature-based solution). That’s why you need to engage with the City of Hamilton’s quick poll and survey on the draft Urban Forest Strategy, found on their Engage Hamilton website. Now is your chance to have your say, and let the City know you care about improving our urban tree canopy.
Also, there will be a virtual public meeting hosted by the city to explain the strategy and take questions on Tuesday Feb 9, 2021 from 6:30pm – 8pm, you can register at the Engage Hamilton webpage for the Urban Forest Strategy.

Finally, Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club recently held a webinar that helped break down the City’s draft Urban forest strategy. Here is the link–very useful to help you understand some of the concerns we have, and some of the things we approve of: