A project to beautify some of Hamilton’s darker alleyways is among the nearly $1 million in projects coming to downtown this year.

On Wednesday, councillors approved a slate of projects approved by voters of Ward 2. That includes $230,000 for an “Urban Trail” alley beautification project, which will focus on a notorious stretch known colloquially as Listerine Alley.

It’s an area that’s been marred with drug use and “nefarious behaviour” in the past, said Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2. Needles are common finds.

But the community-led project is poised to change that.

When the project is finished, “it’ll look a lot more in short like a public space,” Farr said. “It’ll look a lot less intimidating.”

The projects were chosen through Farr’s first participatory budgeting process, which put options to a community vote last year. The projects use area rating money allocated for Ward 2.

The second year of the project, dubbed PBW2, will launch at city hall Thursday evening. The launch party is from 7 to 9 p.m. in the council chambers. It will include the launch of a new website.

Karen Burson, PBW2’s new facilitator, says people will have a chance to come up with proposals for capital projects to improve their neighbourhoods.

“By working together, setting spending priorities and being directly involved with allocating funds from the Ward 2 budget towards those projects, it gives local citizens a chance to engage in local matters in tangible, meaningful ways,” she said.

Here’s a list of other PBW2 first-year projects the general issues committee approved on Wednesday:

  • $2,000 for “No Smoking” signs in Ward 2 parks.
  • $10,000 to start a Chinese Cultural Garden.
  • $10,000 for banners, lamp posts and hanging baskets on James Street South.
  • $15,000 for an outdoor oven at Beasley Park.
  • $18,000 for three community gardens.
  • $20,000 to install 10 poster kiosks in parks and civic squares.
  • $20,000 to fun equipment for a multicultural festival at Bayfront Park.
  • $39,000 for three outreach workers.
  • $40,000 for a Food4Kids Weekend Backpack Program.
  • $8,800 for two solar trash units.
  • $50,000 for more public seating.
  • $80,000 for upgrades to the Beasley Skateboard Park.
  • $112,000 for a multicultural community centre.
  • $125,000 for a pedestrian crosswalk at MacNab Street South at Hunter Street.
  • $2,000 for a “herbal labyrinth” at Shamrock Park North.
  • $20,000 for downtown bike racks.

Ward 1 also has a participatory budgeting process.