Last year, the federal government launched the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI), a $31 million dollar initiative that supports community-led organizations in developing local, small-scale infrastructure projects that respond to the immediate needs arising from COVID-19, while building towards a more pandemic-resilient future.
Working with partner Community Foundations of Canada, Hamilton Community Foundation was part of a Golden Horseshoe Hub that is responsible for assessing grant applications and distributing funds to local organizations and projects. The hub was led by the Oakville Community Foundation and includes Brampton and Caledon Community Foundation, Brant County Community Foundation, Burlington Foundation, Community Foundation of Halton North, Community Foundation of Mississauga and Niagara Community Foundation.
For the first round of CHCI, to three projects in Hamilton:
Hamilton Public Library: Connecting the City: Outdoor Public Wi-Fi at Libraries, $50,000
This project involves the installation of public wireless Wi-Fi outside Hamilton public libraries. It address the digital divide that often compels people living with low-income to choose between basic needs and internet connectivity; a problem exacerbated during the pandemic. An improved wireless network at libraries also helps to address a priority that HPL identified in community surveys related to digital access. HPL also envisions these additional Wi-Fi access points as part of a corridor of public Wi-Fi in Hamilton’s open spaces.
Barton Village BIA: Open Streets on Barton, $30,000
This is a project supporting a safer and more vibrant Barton Village by closing a section of Barton St. E between Victoria St. and Wentworth St. N to car traffic on the first Saturday of each summer month. The project responds to systemic challenges the community faces including mobility (busy vehicular traffic including trucks), business closures due to the pandemic and income inequality. By closing the street to traffic for three days, community members can safely walk, bike, shop and enjoy Barton Village.
Environment Hamilton: Friendly Streets for BIPOC Communities, $50,000
In collaboration with Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and Afro-Canadian Caribbean Association, this project aims to improve neighbourhood street safety and well-being by highlighting the experiences of BIPOC community members. The project acknowledges how systemic racism can permeate urban design and city-planning and looks to address this issue by documenting problematic locations in consultation with BIPOC people and working with City of Hamilton to make street-level changes.
In the second round announced in March 2022, another three projects were funded by CHCI:
Hamilton Olympic Club: Ray Lewis Track and Field Centre – Shade Structure, $50,000
COVID-19 has amplified the need for outdoor spaces for programming and social gathering. This project renews an antiquated outdoor facility space to provide cover from sun, rain or lightening, and capacity to expand programs and services, especially to those with limited mobility or physical abilities.
Cobalt Connects: All our Relations Youth Engagement, $5,000
This process brings Indigenous youth into the process of crafting and celebrating a work of public art that will the focal point of the James North Plaza on Hamilton’s waterfront. The youth will participate in workshops to understand the process of creating the art, meet guest Indigenous artists working in other mediums and join the team completing the process of installing 8,000 handmade glass beads. They will also be part of the team planning the celebration of its installation.
City of Hamilton. Public Spaces and Park Wi-Fi, $99,999
This project will install free public wi-fi in 12 high-use/high-need public spaces, expanding free access to best serve the community and helping to address a digital divide that has been further exacerbated by COVID-19. This project will provide or increase internet availability in outdoor spaces that are safe, easy-to-use and allow access to ever increasing services delivered online.
Follow #HealthyCommunities to learn more about Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.