To another construction project getting underway in Hamilton now — the first phase of downtown Hamilton’s Gore Park pedestrian project. It’s the first step in a long process that’s aiming to return the greenspace to its former glory.
Behind a blue dust screen, nearly a whole city block has been overturned. Monday, when crews began culling trees to start demolition, memories of 1983 resurfaced — when the city suddenly clear cut dozens of trees in Gore Park. But this project has a much different flavour, and time line.
This is day two of a multi-phase, four-plus year project to make Gore Park a hub that Hamiltonians want to visit.
Kathy Drewitt, Downtown Hamilton BIA: “Make it more walkable, more friendly. Have all the restaurants and patios spread onto the road allowance a bit more.”
The successful Gore Park promenade pilot project showed a desire for more walkable space downtown.
Le’Ann Seely, Project Manager, Gore Park Master Plan: “High quality pedestrian spaces in an urban setting are good for the whole city.”
Phase one of the so-called “pedestrianization” spans from Hughson to John streets. It’s due for completion in early 2015. Phase two is set to begin the next year, and the final phase is scheduled for 2018.
All three steps involve culling trees — but this time, it won’t be a clear cut.
Diseased ash trees will be replaced with a more diverse assortment that’s resistant to pests.
The end goal is a lush green space to represent the city.
Le’Ann Seely: “They suggest a robust economy and a healthy city, civic pride, and economic strength.”
One potential scar on the revitalization is a stretch of development that’s on hold while owners appeal a heritage designation. But the city plans to go ahead, even if those facades remain boarded up. Planners believe that even with imperfections, a pedestrian friendly core will benefit all of Hamilton.
Le’Ann Seely: “The ripple effects of these improvements expand out across the whole city.”
Two major components of this phase of the project — refurbishing the cenotaph, rotating it, and adding a memorial to post World War II service. Also, the Sir John A. MacDonald statue will be moved to the next block down. In total, this part of the project will cost $2.3 million. Funding for phases 2 and 3 hasn’t been finalized.