To our members: By the end of February, and will be integrated into the Tamarack website at This is a more accessible platform, where you will easily find more engaging content and resources on poverty reduction and community change.

Questions? Send us a note at

Imagining & Engaging: the Hamilton Neighbourhood Story

Submitted by Christie Nash on September 29, 2015 - 7:28am

On Thursday April 30, 2015 Tamarack hosted a webinar with guests Suzanne Brown, Director of Neighbourhood and Community Initiatives with the City of Hamilton and Renee Wetselaar, Senior Social Planner with the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton, who shared the Hamilton Neighbourhood Story.  This blog features answers to questions we didn't have a chance to get to during the presentation, a link to the podcast, and a copy of the slide deck.  Enjoy!

The following are a series of questions that were sent during the presentation that we simply did not have enough time to address.  After the webinar, Suzanne took some time to answer them to the best of her ability.


Q: Many small groups are not "charitible" designatied and need partnerships.for depositing funding for a project.  How can we partner with another organization without losing a % of finding as a fee?

A: The SPRC is a key partner in the NAS. They manage all the community development work and also act as a flow through for our neighbourhood groups (none of which have charitable status). The funding SPRC receives from the Hamilton Community Foundation and the City of Hamilton covers their admin fees for flowing this money.


Q: Do residents receive any type of compensation for being involved?

A: No, residents are neighbours who volunteer their time to improve their neighbourhoods


Q: How do you deal with political interference in your work?

A: Diplomatically and with lots of communication.


Q: What is covered in the leadership training?
A: Week 1: Leadership & Self-Discovery
    Week 2: Team Dynamics
    Week 3: Community DNA – Part One
    Week 4: Research and Report Writing
    Week 5: Managing for Change
    Week 6: Communication for Change
    Week 7: Community DNA – Park Two
    Week 8: Advocacy & Partnerships
    Week 9: Managing Projects
    Week 10: Active Leadership

Q: How did you recruit people for the neighbourhood leadership institute?

A: Through the 11 neighbourhood planning teams


Q: Can you clarify the funding model? How did all of the partners invest in the project; what is the total investment; what is the investment at the community level?

A: Hamilton Community Foundation funds 4 community developers and admin fees for SPRC; fund the Neighbourhood Leadership Institute for 11 neighbourhoods. Best Start Network funds 1 community developer and half manager. City of Hamilton funds $2 million to neighbourhood engagement and improvement projects in 11 neighbourhoods, Public Health funds the manager for the Neighbourhood Action Strategy, Community Services funds 2 neighbourhood developers, Ontario Works funds one project manager focused on job skill training opportunities, corporation funds 1 project manager. Project funding has been received from City of Hamilton Councillors, Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, Hamilton Community Foundation, People for Places, First Ontario


Q: What is the budget for the neighbourhood action strategey? How many staff are involved?

A: Budget for neighbourhood improvement from City of Hamilton is 2 Million, the SPRC employs 6 community developers and 3 community development assistants, over 100 City of Hamilton staff are involved with supporting projects.


Q: What are some of the non traditional tools you used to engage residents, especially those that typically do not get involved in the neighbourhood?

A: Building relationships face to face is most effective, getting residents talking to residents. Community newsletters, written, published and distributed by residents have been very effective. Community activities like BBQ’s and festivals, especially ones that serve food, bring in 100s of people


Q: Who sets the boundaries of a Neighborhood when you are developing your action plans?

A: The residents set the original 8 HCF neighbourhoods, the City of Hamilton neighbourhoods are based on more traditional planning units, but residents still have the autonomy to decide what their neighbourhood boundaries are. This can be a point of conflict if two neighbourhoods view the same physical space as their own.


Q: Can you elaborate on best practices for marketing and promotions? What works?

A: Face to face relationships


Q: With the Inevitable gentrication of some of the downtown areas in Hamilton- how do you see that changing this model of community resident engagement?

A: Yes, in the sense that existing groups will have to work harder in the future to ensure inclusion and that voices of residents who are marginalized can still be heard


Q: Would like to hear about a specific project - process from start to finish - more details on engagement process and role of Council

A: That is a whole other webinar:)


hamilton_neighbourhood_story.pdf11.81 MB