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Volunteers save Hamilton

Hamilton has saved more than $1 million,
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places to buy cards against humanity,190 volunteers who stepped up to help clean city parks even though their ranks are almost 10,000 people shy of the city’s goal for 2012.

For the first time, the city is keeping track of these numbers, part of the measurable goals it set for its 2012 Clean City Strategy. A semi annual progress report will go to the public works committee on Monday.

“That kind of purposeful approach to cleanups is very different from where we were 15 years ago,” said Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie, a longtime green activist even before his election to council.

One day events such as the Tim Hortons Team Up to Clean Up blitz drew thousands, the report shows.

And it’s not just school organized volunteer groups,
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Litter and graffiti can have a detrimental effect on the way people see their communities, McHattie said.

“It forms the way people think about their city, when it’s right outside their door. The cleanliness problems, the graffiti can really get people down. They can formulate their views on Hamilton generally with those kinds of highly visible things,” he said.

The progress reports have enabled the city to collect data to target specific “hot spots” that need a boost for example, Corktown Park will undergo an “extreme makeover” in the spring to spruce up the area. Staff and students at Queen Victoria School are brainstorming with the Corktown Neighbourhood Association to plan those upgrades.

Earlier this year, a makeover began on Carter Park in the Stinson neighbourhood, cleaning up graffiti and adding new touches, such as benches.

“We really have a volunteer base of people who want to be involved in keeping the city clean and green, and are particularly interested now in the environmental issues. It’s not just the esthetic issues,
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A new list of goals will be set for 2013. Clean and Safe Railway neighbourhoods and illegal dumping will both be a focus in the next phase of the strategy.

Both the Trillium Awards and the Hamilton in Bloom programs will carry on in the New Year, to encourage gardeners and spruce up road medians.

There’s a long way to go, but McHattie and Homerski said they are pleased with what the data is telling them. A Clean City liaison committee, made up of volunteers, will help draw even more volunteers to join the battle.

“You see other things happening in Hamilton, I think the whole place is really turning a corner,” McHattie said.

“I say that not just as a cheerleader politician but having been at this for several decades as an activist there’s definitely a different feel of the place.”

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