Four of Hamilton's most disadvantaged neighbourhoods have presented plans to spend $2 million to develop their communities.

Representatives from Beasley, Keith, McQuesten and Stinson made presentations at the city's special general issues committee meeting Monday night. The neighbourhood action plans presented had various ideas, ranging from community gardens to safety audits, to spend money earmarked for the city's Neighbourhood Development Strategy.

The four communities were among the 11 identified for improvement in 2010. About 250 residents packed the council gallery to see their plans presented.

"It is just wonderful to have people come into this gallery and fill it and talk about the positives," said Flamborough councillor Judi Partridge.

Beasley's plan includes a series of banners (with mottos such as Believe, BeProud and BeStrong), improving Beasley and McLaren parks, finding creative uses for alleyways and "redesigning Cannon Street to be more neighbourhood friendly," said Beasley representative Paul Elia.

"As it is now, Cannon Street feels like a highway that cuts through the neighbourhood," he said.

Green space

The Keith neighbourhood plan includes improving local parks, developing a community orchard and creating more community gardens.

"All these green points and enhancement will become a focal point of camaraderie and pride," said Steve Rowe, vice-chair of the Keith Action Planning Team.

McQuesten plans include establishing a database of local businesses that encourage community development, more community gardens and some sort of "food centre," whether it be a farmers market or a food co-op, said Pat Reid.

"An integrated food system is key to the health and wellbeing of our neighbourhood."

Stinson's plan includes creating a civic square through the redevelopment of Carter Park and Central Memorial Recreation Centre. It also includes improved property standards and promoting the perception of Stinson as a historic neighbourhood.

City staff will bring back a report as soon as October on the implementation of the plans, said Paul Johnson, director of neighbourhood development strategies.

'No longer talk'

South Sherman residents are also submitting a plan.  

So far, more than 4,100 people have participated in the process. It also includes Jamesville, Landsdale, Rolston, Crown Point, Riverdale and Quigley Road.

The presentations highlighted the positive aspects of living in Hamilton, which is sometimes lost even on Hamiltonians, Coun. Sam Merulla said.

"I know in suburbs, there's a perception of the inner city that's grossly inaccurate," he said. "I know outside of the city, there's a perception that's grossly inaccurate."

Passing the plans, said Coun. Jason Farr, means "in 2013, it's no longer talk and it's no longer planning. In a lot of cases, it's implementation."