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Proposed pilot program asks Hamiltonians to reimagine underused places

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Proposed pilot program asks Hamiltonians to reimagine underused places

City of Hamilton councillors voted to support a pilot proposal that would fund placemaking projects throughout the community.

A $100,000 donation from the Patrick J. McNally Charitable Foundation is the financial basis of the Placemaking Grant Pilot Program that was pitched to the General Issues Committee (GIC) on Monday (July 6).

Carrie Brooks-Joiner, the director of Tourism and Culture, presented the proposal to GIC and touted the program’s potential to contribute to COVID-19 recovery.

“It’s a hands-on approach to community building,” she said. “The projects will invite people back into public spaces.”

Projects may be imaginative and playful or address larger, more serious issues, a report in front of GIC said. Applicants are encouraged to reimagine every day public spaces and propose place-based temporary projects that are creative and experimental.

Brooks-Joiner noted that all potential placemaking projects would have to adhere to protocols that are in place to protect against the spread COVID-19.

Placemaking is a community-led attempt to reimagine and animate public, underused spaces to attract people back to these areas.

“We’re inviting the community to reimagine spaces in their neighbourhood,” Brooks-Joiner said. “There is no prescription for how projects come together. [The key] is that it comes from the community.”

The entire pilot is funded by the Patrick J. McNally Foundation’s $100,000 donation — the same organization that helped save Hamilton’s bike-share service with another $100,000 donation in late May — at zero cost to taxpayers, Brooks-Joiner emphasized to the GIC.

While most members of the GIC were on board with the pilot and using the donated funds to enhance some Hamilton neighbourhoods, some worried that there would be a concentration of projects in the downtown core.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger noted that “this is a city-wide initiative, not just for the downtown.

“There will be a regional balance, respecting all places in need of animation,” he said.

Brooks-Joiner said the pilot would look to councillors to introduce the program to their wards.

If the pilot is ultimately approved, 20 grants of up to $2,000 will be available for place-based projects that result in a meaningful impact on a place/community.

These projects are temporary (up to one year) and may include a physical change to the place (signage, sculpture, garden planters, etc.) or may reimagine a space through repeated action (performances, gatherings, etc.).

Between two to four projects could be eligible for approximately $5,000 to $20,000 grants.

These projects would have a larger physical impact on the place/community with meaningful results. Projects are temporary (up to three years) and will include a physical change to the place (seating, sculpture, etc.).

If the pilot moves forward, it will launch in the fourth quarter of 2020; funding will be awarded in 2021 to 2022 for projects taking place in 2021 to 2023.

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