Two local business people are organizing campaigns for residents and businesses to help pay for a $230,000 welcome sign for Hamilton.

With councillors keen on the idea of a "gateway" sign, but wary of the cost, the two local  business people are stepping in. Activist and PR professional Laura Babcock is working with city manager Chris Murray, inviting businesses and residents willing to contribute $1,000 or more to give to the Welcome to Hamilton partner program.

The local site fundhamont.comrun by online marketing strategist Jim Rudnick, is also hosting a crowd-sourcing campaign for residents to donate smaller amounts. 

Wanting to help

Babcock says she's gotten "at least 20" phone calls and letters just this week from people wanting to help with the sign. At least two local businesses are willing to chip in as well.

“We’re all donating because we don’t want to spend another summer of people driving through Hamilton without us having a gateway sign done,” said Babcock, who owns a local public relations firm.

Some city councillors have balked at the cost of putting a welcome sign at Highway 403 and 6 in advance of the 2015 Pan Am Games. 

'This keeping up with the Joneses by having a gateway to the city is getting pretty expensive.' - Coun. Brad Clark

A staff report shows it will cost a maximum of $230,000 to build. They’re still examining ways to reduce the cost, including tweaking the design of eight pale steel letters that was chosen in a public poll in 2008.

At a general issues committee meeting Wednesday, some councillors were nervous about the cost. The issue will come back to the July 9 general issues committee meeting.

The simple promise that staff will try for partnerships to save money isn’t enough, said Coun. Brenda Johnson of Ward 11.

“I’m not against the concept of this whatsoever. I’m really just opposing the amount of money,” Johnson said. “I’d feel more comfortable if I saw those partnerships in my hot little hands.”

Brad Clark, who represents Ward 9 in Stoney Creek, worried about the cost too. This sign is $230,000, but there are four spots that need gateway signs. That makes it a million-dollar expenditure.

“This keeping up with the Joneses by having a gateway to the city is getting pretty expensive,” he said.

Getting it done

But the city has been working on this for 12 years, said Babcock, who owns a local public relations firm. It should at least get one done.

“If we can’t, that’s too bad,” she said. “I think that would say more about the city than I could ever say.”

There are two campaigns.

Crowd-sourcing:

  • People can donate to the #finddime4sign campaign at the not-for-profit site fundhamont.com.

Welcome to Hamilton Partner program:

  • Individuals and businesses who want to be a part of the Welcome to Hamilton Partner program with in-kind or cash pledges of $1,000 or more should email city manager Chris Murray or laura@powergroup.ca before July 6.