Comment 91890

By Norman Kearney (anonymous) | Posted September 08, 2013 at 13:57:59

PBW2 is not so much complicated as it is comprehensive. It is also an unfamiliar way of doing things.

For most participants the process is relatively straightforward. If you are simply interested in participating in discussion, then you can come out to the assemblies. There you can also put forth a proposal if you have an idea or if one comes to mind. Down the road you can choose who lobbies for your assembly’s proposals. You get to have a say on the ballot – should there be a compromise option, or not – you get to vote on how your taxes are spent, and then you get to choose your team for next year. You can be as active a participant as you want to be. It’s not complicated. It’s just new (and exciting!).

There is no need for another consultant to run PBW2. The design of PBW2 provides for a Facilitator, who is responsible for coordinating the process. It is important to recognize that I wore many hats over the past year-and-a-half, as Joey has cheekily noted by rambling off my various titles. Founder, PB Hamilton will suffice. But it is true that I was also co-chair of the planning committee and Facilitator of PBW2. Going forward, the planning committee has dissolved, PBW2 can stand on its own feet (and thus does not require a ‘consultant’), and PB Hamilton will be turning its focus citywide under the direction of a Board of Trustees.

We were advised by Finance that Council has the authority to override the Area Rating policy, which it has done on several occasions. In fact, several projects that are ineligible under a strict reading of the Area Rating policy have previously received funding through the Area Rating funds for Ward 2:

- Ward 2 School Nutrition Program ($80K);
- Renew Hamilton Grant; ($20K)
- HWDSB Task Force ($15K);
- Downtown Pop-Up Concert ($6K);
- YWCA – Women’s Transitional Housing Program ($90K);
- 2-Way Streets Study InfoPortal ($7.5K); and,
- Art Gallery of Hamilton Capital Works Feasibility Study ($5K).

As you can see, none of the projects selected through PBW2 are inconsistent with past practice, and there is no need to worry about arduous legal proceedings (let's not get carried away!). Furthermore, as was explained to all participants and especially to participants who submitted proposals, there are three ways to receive funding through PBW2: a City expenditure, a third-party grant, and a reserve. The Youth Centre and the Multicultural Centre proposals are reserves, meaning that although money has been allocated, it cannot be spent until a plan is approved. This is an ordinary two-step budgeting process. Most of the other proposals are City expenditures and the detailed plans will be developed and implemented by staff in consultation with the liaisons for the assemblies (indeed, much of the planning is already done).

In my opinion, the greatest area needing improvement is communication. We need to get the word out in clearer terms, sooner, more often, and more consistently. The first year was about working out a lot of glitches and learning from experience. Now we have that experience and we have a good idea of how to make things run much better. We also have a lot more people who want to make PBW2 thrive! I’m very excited to see how PBW2 grows and improves in round two.

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