By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Downtown Hamilton has the Supercrawl, and exploding arts scene along James Street North. Stoney Creek is known for the Winona Peach Festival, while Dundas has Buskerfest and Cactus Festival.
Ancaster has Heritage Days, while Flamborough celebrates its agricultural heritage with the popular Rockton Worlds Fair.
UnderHamilton’s new Cultural Plan, they all have role in developing a vibrant community within the city.
“(The plan) will touch all of us,” said retiring general manager of planning and economic development Tim McCabe. “It’s a winning formula. It’s one of the most important initiatives since slice Canada Bread.”
The plan, three years in the making, with over 2,300 citizens’ comments embedded in the 68-page document, offers eight major “transformation” goals,12 recommendations and 78 actions for the city to implement. Although most of the recommendations are either already underway by city officials, or have become an accepted part of how the city does business, most of actions include a variety of quick strategies city staff can begin now under the city’s existing budget.
“We are working differently, thinking differently,” said project manager Ali Sabourin.
Sabourin said any recommendations that can be implemented without hiring more people, or using more money will be done.
“We are looking at efficiencies before asking for more (money),” she said.
Ward 5 councillor Chad Collin liked what he read, but he said the document should include opportunities to secure alternative funding to help the city reach its goal.
“What’s lacking in the plan is the drive to secure private sector funding,” he said.
A few of those actions that are recommended in the plan include creating a culture report card; establish a cultural roundtable; preserve heritage; make sure public art is included in private developments; and make all museums free to the public.
The culture plan comes on the heels earlier this summer of a recommendation by the council’s arts advisory commission task force to increase the funding to arts groups by $1 million. Arts groups received in 2012 about $1.9 million. Councillors will be reviewing the request for the 2014 budget. Cultural officials have also been reviewing how to expand the city’s public art program, which has been successfully done in various parts of the city, such asOttawa Street, and downtownHamilton.
While Hamilton’s downtown remains the focal point of the plan, culture officials emphasized the strategy includes all of the downtowns within the city.
“All of the downtowns are important,” said Anna Bradford, director of tourism and culture. “All are unique.”
The plan was created to identify cultural resources and potential opportunities within the city. There are over 2,000 cultural resources, which the plan identifies as not only museums, theatres, and art galleries, but also natural heritage features, such as the Niagara Escarpment, Cootes Paradise, and cultural heritage events.
“All of the downtowns will be recognized,” said Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnson. “I’m glad we are looking at the whole city.”