After more than 10 years of study and delay, Hamilton is finally getting its anti-racism resource centre.
City councillors voted unanimously on Wednesday to set up a centre, which would monitor and track racism complaints, as well as support victims.
The city is partnering with McMaster University and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) for the three-year pilot project. The city will pay $100,000 per year over that time, while McMaster will pitch in $70,000 and the HCCI $30,000.
Councillors first voted for a centre at a city committee last year, but later deferred it at council, saying the plan should involve partnerships. The issue came back in June, at the same time that new Statistics Canada data showed that Hamilton was Canada's second highest city for hate crimes per capita.
The new centre, if ratified by city council next week, will share space and get administrative support from HCCI. The centre will have one employee in the form of an anti-racism officer.
Several councillors talked about the need for the centre to be inclusive — being welcome, for example, to LGBTQ people. Roger Cameron, chair of the city's anti-racism resource committee, said it will be, although the group consulted with The Well and doesn't want to duplicate its services.
"We don't plan to leave anybody out," he said.
Several councillors referenced the Paris attacks and some of the subsequent public comments about Syrian refugees. Coun. Sam Merulla referenced the "incredible amount of hatred and ignorance out there." Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor, said the vote is timely.
"If you pick up the paper and read social media, your heart hurts."
Discussion of an anti-racism resource centre dates back to 2003, Cameron said. The idea came from a racism symposium. Committee presented to council in 2004, he said, and council asked for a feasibility study.
The committee returned with a study in 2010. Council asked for more information, and the committee returned in February 2014, and again in September 2014.