By Kevin Werner • METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP
Hamilton councillors agreed to provide Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion an additional $25,000 this year to give the organization some financial breathing room.
But politicians urged the group to get the federal government more involved in funding their programs instead of simply attending ribbon-cuttings and applauding the group’s efforts.
Under a three-year financial program, HCCI was expecting about $50,000 from the city in 2013. Hamilton, which agreed to become a temporary funding partner with the non-profit organization as it becomes more self-sufficient, provided $100,000 in 2011 and $75,000 in 2012. But as HCCI establishes its funding initiatives, including kicking off a new 2013 fundraising campaign to raise about $30,000 to cover a projected deficit this year, the organization needed further financial help from the city.
“We are not looking for handouts,” said Evelyn Myrie, HCCI’s executive director.
Councillors approved the extra $25,000 request from HCCI in a motion made by councillor Brian McHattie to the city’s 2013 budget negotiations. As well, the group’s $50,000 city grant was pushed to the 2014 budget deliberations.
HCCI Board Chair Mile Komlen said its fee-for-service business, Advantage Diversity, has proved to be financially successful over the last two years. But just like a small business, it takes time to grow so it can stand on its own, he said.
“We face the same obstacles (as small businesses),” said Komlen, who is the director of Human Rights and Equity at McMaster University.
Mountain councillor Tom Jackson praised the organization for its aggressive funding model and backed the extra money to help HCCI.
“I’m more than happy to support buying you more time,” said Jackson.
But Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark wanted to defer the motion until he reviewed the group’s financial statements.
“I have a problem passing a motion without seeing the financial statements,” said Clark.
Over the last two years HCCI has boosted its revenue projections after launching the Advantage Diversity program. In 2011, HCCI earned $95,000, while in 2012 the program brought in $115,000. Myrie said she expects the program to reach $160,000 in revenues in 2013.
Along with the city, the Ontario Trillium Foundation provided $64,000 to the organization in 2012, the Seniors Horizon Program $24,000, the provincial Ministry of Culture and Immigration $90,000 over two years, and the Ontario Education Ministry $11,000.
But as councillors pointed out, the federal government, which has responsibility for newcomers to Canada, has not provided any funding to HCCI.
“The federal government not at the table is a problem,” said Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins. “The federal government needs to become a funding partner rather than a cheerleader.”
Myrie agreed, saying the federal Conservatives “need to step up to the plate.”
HCCI was formed in 2006 out of the Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative, which was created in response to the fire bombing of the Hindu Samaj Temple in 2001.