Top 5 Neighbourhood Innovations in Hamilton, ON

Submitted by Christie Nash on July 23, 2015 - 9:24am

At our Neighbours: Policies & Programs gathering in June 2015 we had the opportunity to learn and share with residents, city staff and community builders from Hamilton, ON- our gracious hosts for the event.  In his presentation, Paul Johnson shared with us that there are 421 action items currently underway as part of their Neighbourhood Action Strategy. While each of these projects have a unique story and process that are worth sharing, I am compelled to share the top 5 large-scale collaborations that I find particularly compelling and demonstrate what is possible when people work together to make things happen.

1. Neighbourhood Leadership Institute

Spearheaded by the Hamilton Community Foundation, the NLI works with several Hamilton organizations, agencies and educational institutions, including Mohawk College to provide  leadership training while growing a locally developed project idea. They develop their skills in project management, conflict resolution, communication, grant writing, public speaking, working with others, self-advocacy and team leadership.  Program’s graduates receive a college-level credit for their work. 

Check out their video for a great introduction to the program

2. McQuesten Urban Farm

As part of an initiative to address the issue of food security in the McQuesten neighbourhood,  an urban farm in the green space behind the former St. Helens school was created.  Beginning with  5 beds 10 years ago, this community garden has been transformed into a an urban farm with over 55 plots.  It has also created a positive change in the community by providing an outlet for citizens of all ages, adding economic value to the community, and fostering strong bonds amongst residents in McQuesten.  Together this community worked together to push through policies and by-laws to make this happen and the result with well worth their efforts.

3. The Social Navigator Program

Three years into this program, we are told that it has a 100% success rate.  Inspired by the idea that many people who are repeatedly coming into conflict with the law or using emergency services are not getting the services they need, the Social Navigator Program was set up to help connect people with the right programs to get the right kind of help.

Funded by the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, EMS and police are working together to identify individuals who would be better served if they had assistance navigating the programs and services available to them that would best meet their needs.  This not only results in healthier individuals and communities over the long term, it also helps reduce costs associated with emergency response.

4. Building Momentum

In 2015 over 1,300 people attended the second annual Building the Momentum Hamilton event, a community fundraiser the city's small grants program and local neighbourhoods.

Raising over $20,000 this year, this event is open to all Hamiltonians and is hosted by the City and the Sherman Hub.

To hear more about its history and impact, please watch this video

5. McMaster Downtown Campus

In 2014 the City of Hamilton announced that it was donating 2-4 acres of downtown land to MacMaster University to build a multi-million dollar campus.  It's projected that the new campus will host over 1,000 students which will breath new life into the downtown core.  This is a great idea to bridge the town and gown, bring diversity to the core, and boost the local economy.