After an accident near the Dofasco factory in Hamilton, a local resident told city planners: ‘We feel forgotten’
Some Hamilton residents in the area north of Barton Street East, surrounding the Center on Barton shopping mall, are increasingly concerned for their safety and that of their neighbours.
Angel Card lives on the corner of Ottawa Street North and Dalkeith Avenue, near the site of an accident on Sunday where a woman and her 10-year-old son were hit by an SUV while walking, leaving them in a critical state. The driver fled on foot, triggering an ongoing police investigation.
The family identified the woman as Nicole Constandinides, her son as Maddox. Constandinides’ husband Sean Reid was with them but suffered minor injuries.
Since Card started living in the area with their partner and daughter in 2016, they said there have been a number of vehicle accidents on this stretch of Ottawa Street North, which has sparked a growing worry and concern among residents.
Card points to an incident just over two weeks ago where a driver drove onto the patch of grass between the road and the sidewalk. “The girls took the tree [out] it’s literally only four feet from my house,” they said.
“It was the exact same situation where they sped down the tracks like a stunt and lost control,” Card said, referring to what they believe also happened on Sunday.
Hamilton police confirmed a single-vehicle collision occurred on June 21, when a car hit and dragged a tree on the roadway just before 8:30 p.m. Police said a driver had was arrested for impaired driving.
“Anyone who drives on this strip of Ottawa Street knows you need to slow down to safely get over the bump in the tracks,” Nrinder Nann, Hamilton City Councilor for Ward 3 told CBC Hamilton in an email.
In a statement on Thursday, Central Hamilton MP Matthew Green said the increase in pedestrian injuries and fatalities is “unacceptable” and “cannot continue to be ignored.” Hours after the statement, a 12-year-old boy who was waiting in a bus shelter with his family in Stoney Creek was sent to hospital after a vehicle hit them.
“When people aren’t safe to walk/bike on a street or cross an intersection, it’s time to admit we’re in the midst of a public safety crisis,” Green said. wrote.
Another neighbor on Ottawa Street North points to what he says is outdated street design as a factor in road safety in the area.
“Fifty years ago, 40,000 people worked at Dofasco,” said Chris Scroope, who has lived at the corner of Ottawa Street North and Dalkeith Avenue for the past five years.
“That’s why they made all the traffic light changes here, so they could get people out of these factories.” Now he estimates there are around 4,000 workers moving in and out of the location. “They haven’t fixed that,” he said, referring to a lack of traffic light adjustment.
Asked about street design and safety issues, a City of Hamilton official told CBC Hamilton “there isn’t a lot of history of injuries and fatal collisions in this area,” and that ‘once again Sunday’s incident is known, ‘staff will determine whether further road safety measures are necessary.’
Com. Nann said there was a speeding problem. “The problem is that some people still see it as a thoroughfare and drive too fast,” Nann said, noting that his office heard at least one resident last week worry about speeding in the area. .
Scroop said he believes another contributing factor is the inability to turn left or right onto Barton Street from Ottawa Street North or Kenilworth Avenue North.
“It forces people to walk through this mall,” Scroope said.
He said this forced drivers to use the single lane in the middle of the mall as a traffic lane. “What it does is everybody who walks out of that mall is crazy because they had to and they couldn’t get from A to B,” he said.
“So of course they want to go because they were just sitting in traffic in a mall.”
“I don’t feel safe at home”
When Card and their partner bought their corner house six years ago, they were told that the kitchen had been recently renovated.
Recently they were told by neighbors that the renovation was done because a car had actually rammed the side of the house.
“People walked through our kitchen from this unassuming road right in front of us, behind Walmart, and walked through the kitchen,” Card said.
“It’s very terrifying when I have a child and pets at home…I get to the point where I no longer feel safe in my house, or even walk out of my house “Card said.
Card said it was particularly unfortunate to have such a dangerous stretch of road where they see children from neighboring buildings waiting at the bus stop opposite the site of Sunday’s crash.
Residential or industrial area?
Com. Nann said she instructed staff to ensure an engineering review of the pavement was carried out and work was completed to put in place immediate and long-term solutions for implementation.
“It’s clear to me that we need to end its use as a fast lane and improve the pedestrian realm for safety,” Nann said, “including measures such as making sure these shrubs are trimmed, considering a signed pedestrian crossing and get more regular speed checks in the area.
Ottawa Street North is the border between Wards 3 and 4. Sunday’s accident took place on the east side of the street, where Ward 4 begins.
Asked about road safety in the area, Ward 4 Councilor Sam Merulla said there had been a full scan of Ottawa Street years ago, but the focus was on the southern area, between Main Street East and Barton.
“We didn’t include anything north of Barton, mainly because it’s commercial, industrial,” Merulla said.
He said this is something that could be assessed after the municipal elections in the fall. He won’t be on the board then because he’s retiring, he said.
“All the way north of Barton…that’s not a neighborhood,” Merulla said. “It’s all commercial… Center Mall and just a few garages.”
“The neighborhood on the left exists and on the right, but it’s not on the street itself,” he said, referring to the stretch of Ottawa Street North between Barton Street East and Burlington Street.
Card said it is unfortunate to know that the area is described as only industrial when she can see many people who live in the surrounding area.
“The only factory is Dofasco,” Card said. “I can tell you that looking out my window I see hundreds of homes and families playing outside right now. We are not a factory zone.”
In addition to Ottawa’s residential streets, Ottawa Street North Center Residences is a seven-story apartment complex directly on the Strip.
“Every street starts with a business. So when you drive in Ottawa [Street North]well yeah, you would think it’s a factory and an industry,” Card said. “But by the time you turn down one of these streets after this business, all the houses are full of children and old people.
Card said there were also many low-income residents who also lived in the area.
“Residents here have been telling police for years that this is going to happen. Families and seniors don’t feel safe,” Card said.
“I mean, I could move tomorrow. I could sell my house or rent my house and leave, but that doesn’t protect the families here. We already feel forgotten.”