A popular downtown festival is getting money from the city after a last-ditch effort by Coun. Jason Farr.
At a budget meeting Wednesday, Hamilton council voted to grant $60,000 to Supercrawl, an annual art and music festival that draws about 80,000 people to James Street North.
Councillors had voted down a proposal to give the festival $125,000 earlier this year. But as council passed a $1.5-billion operating budget Wednesday, Farr introduced an amendment to give Supercrawl $60,000.
"I was absolutely concerned we could jeopardize a very good thing for the downtown core if the city didn't partner in a significant way," said Farr, a Ward 2 councillor who represents downtown. "I think right now we're in a good spot."
Typically, community festivals apply for money through an application process known as the Community Partnership Program (CPP). Last year, Supercrawl's one-time $60,000 grant came through reserve funds on the promise the group would pursue the formal CPP process this year.
But the process wasn't finished in time, so the organizers asked for $125,000 from a city economic development reserve fund, Farr said. Councillors narrowly voted against that request in March.
But most voted in favour of the lesser grant Wednesday, with the understanding that Supercrawl would work through the CPP process next year.
Coun. Maria Pearson of Ward 10 in Stoney Creek said she'd support it because the money was coming from a reserve account and won't have an impact on taxes. But she still worried about fairness to other community groups.
"I do want to be sure that it is officially on the record that this will be the absolute last time we deal with this coming forward at [the general issues committee]," she said.
Coun. Brenda Johnson of Ward 11 voted against it, saying there should be a consistent process to ask for money.
"[Farr is] doing his job," she said. "He's looking out of his ward. Good for him. But I simply cannot support this."
Johnson was the sole opponent. Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 on the Mountain said he supported the grant.
"You need to recognize success stories."
Tim Potocic, a Supercrawl co-organizer, says his team feels misrepresented in the discussion. They are not asking for special favours, but attempting to navigate "a broken process."
Funding from the city is "the lynchpin to all other sources of funding," he said.
"A stable multi-year commitment from the city ensures our ability to access hundreds of thousand of additional dollars from private organizations, provincial and federal government sources."
Supercrawl generates about $6 million in economic spinoffs, Farr said.