The city should consider crowd sourcing or asking for corporate donations to help pay for a sign at the gateway of Hamilton, says the local resident who initiated the project.

City staff estimated it’ll cost $230,000 to put a gateway sign at Highways 6 and 403 near Cootes Paradise. Some councillors and residents have had trouble swallowing that cost, and the city is looking at ways to lower it.

The city should consider crowd funding or in-kind corporate donations, says Laura Babcock, owner of a local public relations firm and the resident behind the #Time4Sign campaign.

“I don’t want to go cheap on it, but I do think we have room to be creative,” said Babcock.

She’s volunteered to help the city look for in-kind donations of materials or labour, corporate sponsorships and other solutions. She’s even heard from people on social media willing to donate if it’s crowd funded.

The steel gateway sign is based on a 2008 design chosen by the public six years ago. City staff will look into alternatives to help pay for the sign, Ministry of Transportation approvals and in-house expertise to help erect the sign, and report back to council on June 4.

Adapting a hashtag suggestion from Coun. Jason Farr, Babcock has started #FindDime4Sign on Twitter to discuss ways to pay for the project.

Coun. Sam Merulla of Ward 4 balked at the cost of the sign and its location, saying it should go closer to an area of Hamilton that needs beautification.

“This creates more problems than it solves,” he said. “The only responsible thing is to kill this particular project.”

But others said the sign is an important branding project to have ready by the Pan Am Games in 2015. Considering city council has mulled over a sign for 12 years, Wednesday was “great progress,” Babcock said.

“The consensus is that everyone knows we really need the sign,” she said. “We have to have it. Every other city has one. It’s really crazy that we don’t have one.”