Hamilton's Ward 1 residents have an opportunity to choose among 80 projects up for voting in the ward's $1.5 million participatory budget.
By Saira Peesker
Published October 11, 2013
Hamilton's Ward 1 residents are facing a decision between 80 projects up for voting in the ward's $1.5 million participatory budget.
Sifting through so many park, crosswalk and cycling projects may certainly seem time intensive - but after weighing more than 500 ideas submitted, Councillor Brian McHattie says getting through 80 should be a breeze.
"People are saying, 'there's no way I'm looking through 80 projects to decide what my top five are,'" he told RTH last week. "I responded a bit tongue in cheek, that I looked through 500 projects so I don't feel too bad for you."
As of Thursday, more than 1,200 people had voted. Online voting continues until Oct. 21 at forward1.ca.
All proposed projects were brought forward by members of the ward, and include: a scramble intersection at Sterling Street and Forsyth Avenue, near the eastern entrance to McMaster University; a performance space at Victoria Park; a traffic-calming piazza on Locke Street and better intersections for pedestrians where Dundurn Street crosses King Street and Main Street; plus 76 other diverse suggestions.
"There were a lot on pedestrian safety," said McHattie. "That was a real highlight. Also a lot of on park improvements. In particular, the was some interest in skateboarding and making improvements to existing playgrounds and splash pads.
"(This process) acts as a survey and poll of what people are thinking about. It really gives you a sense for where people's heads are at."
The process in Ward 1 is largely held online and somewhat more streamlined than in Ward 2, which relies on in-person democracy at every step to elect neighbourhood councils, choose projects and vote.
In Ward 1, residents submit ideas, which are grouped together as appropriate by the councillor and an appointed committee, then rated by residents in an online vote. The projects don't come with budget lines attached, so a big part of the advisory committee's work is to decide how much to allocate each project.
"We wanted to make it as simple as possible," McHattie said, admitting that despite those efforts, it's still quite of bit of work to take the process from concept to actualization of the projects.
"The timelines have been awkward. By late October, or early November, we have our a list of approved projects, while in reality, the City capital budget is well organized by May or June."
To remedy this, next year's process will start not long after this year's ends, to have it completed in tandem with the budget cycle.
"We're going to start the process in January and try to wrap it up in June," he said. "We're battling against time."
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