Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives
By: Sam Marchetti
The Hamilton Mountain, as it is affectionately referred to as by many Hamiltonians, is more than just a section of the Niagara Escarpment. It is an entire community, filled with rich history, quiet streets and the ever-out-of-reach Lime Ridge mall.
The mountain community is composed of largely everything atop the escarpment from Ancaster Mill and Mohawk College over to the Red Hill Valley Parkway and the infamous Devil’s Punchbowl. In between the two, there are beautiful views of the mountain brow, great entertainment at The Zoetic Theatre and a massive residential area which is home to a large portion of the Hamilton community. If you’ve never been up the mountain, I highly recommend checking it out—if you can get there.
The mountain community has so much to offer and McMaster University’s students have so much they can contribute. For example, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s annual science fair usually occurs at one of the high schools on top of the mountain, as does the Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair which takes place at Mohawk College.
Both of these events need judges, a task that undergraduate students are well-equipped for. However, it is rarely the case, especially in the former event, that students take these roles. Usually parents or teachers are forced to judge these events either due to a lack of promotion at McMaster, or more likely, because it is too difficult for students to make the trek up the mountain. The same logic applies for other community-involvement opportunities on the mountain that are ideal for students — it just isn’t worth the trouble for many of us to get there.
To access the mountain community, McMaster students need to take a minimum of two buses. Students first have to catch one of three buses, the 5, 51 or 1, that take around 20 minutes to arrive at the downtown transit terminal. From there, they have to take another bus that takes them up one of the numerous mountain accesses.
Totaling around ten minutes to reach the mountain, to arrive to your destination can take, at minimum, an additional five to twenty minutes, depending on the location and any other buses you need to take. This is also assuming a non-weekend trip as weekend bus schedules from McMaster are even further reduced.
Students will also find that they usually are left waiting longer on the mountain for a bus than they would at McMaster, but these buses have fewer stops and are often on time. The point is, once up the mountain, getting around and accessing everything the mountain has to offer is pretty easy.
The rate limiting step always has and, until change occurs, always will be getting there. There are a number of solutions to this problem. The Hamilton Street Railway could provide a route, similar to the B-Line express, that can run directly from McMaster to the mountain brow. The total time it would take for a route like this would be about fourteen minutes.
This is half the time it takes to get there now, and removes the complexity of switching buses. Not to mention, such a route would be extremely beneficial to student commuters from the mountain.
Looking more long-term, the new light rail transit system seems to be timed perfectly to solve this issue. It opens doors for more LRT routes to be built around Hamilton, which could include one that takes McMaster students up the mountain.
No matter which solution is taken on by the municipal government, it is fair to say that this problem should be seriously addressed. The mountain should not be inaccessible to McMaster students, who want the ability to freely explore their community and have the means to contribute back. Until action is taken, it appears the city doesn’t care if students experience Hamilton.