Community will have input after all into setting up the anti-racism resource centre

Hamilton city council has reached a "compromise" that will see it setting up the newly revamped anti-racism resource centre, but racialized community members will form a panel to guide it.

Councillors tweaked an earlier plan so there'll be a community panel for the newly revamped centre

Hamilton city council voted to set up a community panel to advise a consultant helping reestablish the anti-racism resource centre. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Hamilton city council has reached a "compromise" that will see it setting up the newly revamped anti-racism resource centre, but racialized community members will form a panel to guide it.

Councillors have overturned an earlier decision that would have seen little community involvement in the first year of the new Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre (HARRC). The city will oversee the centre for six to 12 months until it can be established as an independent entity. A city-hired consultant will also be hired to establish an independent board of directors.

But under the old plan, there was no requirement for the consultant to work with the community at all. After council's vote Wednesday, a community panel will help determine what qualities the consultant needs. Then whoever is hired will also work with the panel on the board details .

"It's a good compromise," said Evelyn Myrie, a local diversity advocate and consultant. "The fact that the community will have a say in the direction, the development of the work, is very important."

Ameil Joseph and Gabriela Roberts, and several other community members, said city councillors have missed the mark in voting for the city to set up a new Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre board itself. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Kojo Damptey, executive director of the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), said it's better than the old plan. But the city doesn't need a consultant. It has people in the community already who could set up a board.

"Hiring a consultant, I think there's going to be wasted resources."

HARRC has been in the works for 16 years. There have been several hurdles, including a feasibility study and council votes for and against. The centre finally launched in April 2018. The city, McMaster University and the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI) contributed about $200,000 per year in cash and in-kind contributions. Half of that was city money.

In the first 10 months, the centre heard from 75 clients, and gave 17 anti-racism seminars and consultations. In February, all three partners voted to pause the centre, saying the current model didn't have a big enough reach. 

The new plan is "a good compromise," says Evelyn Myrie. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The city consulted the community ahead of a new plan, including an October public meeting attended by more than 100 people.

The majority of respondents said they didn't want the city to run the centre. Critics say last week's vote would have done exactly that.

In the interim, HARRC will also be limited to an online reporting system and phone line, instead of being an actual physical office like it was last year.


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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