By Norman Kearney
“I did my civic duty. Least I could do after all your hard work,” said Mrs. Sherwood, 94, as I lifted her collapsible walker out of a volunteer’s van. The resident of Corktown neighbourhood had arrived at Queen Victoria Elementary School, where I was putting up posters redirecting residents across the street to Corktown Park. Mrs. Sherwood had walked several blocks from her home and was determined to vote in the Ward Two participatory budget process. The vote is to determine which of more than 50 neighbourhood improvement projects will receive funding from approximately $1 Million in equalization reserves that were created out of the area rating process.
A volunteer and I drove Mrs. Sherwood to the polling station, then back to her home. As we pulled up to her house, I realized I had spoken to Mrs. Sherwood four months ago; a team of volunteers and I had spent a weekend knocking on doors in her community.
Around midday Saturday, Joanna Millions, a member of the PBW2 planning team, resident of Stinson, and poll supervisor for the Christ’s Church Cathedral polling station, tweeted a photo of a 14-year-old resident completing his ballot behind a privacy screen.
Shamso Elmi, an interpreter for PBW2, organizer of the Central assembly, and deputy returning officer for the Beasley Voting Van, contacted HQ in the afternoon requesting more Somali-language ballots. Soon after I received a request from Sean Pittman, organizer of the Durand South assembly and poll supervisor for the YWCA polling station, for more Chinese-language ballots.
On Saturday, dozens of residents without citizenship – many who do not speak English – participated as civic equals to citizens. The Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion deserves our thanks for organizing the translation of the ballots.
Today, the polls will remain open until 5pm, except a special poll outside our headquarters which will remain open until 9pm. The voting places are:
– Bennetto Recreation Centre (450 Hughson St N)
– Christ’s Church Cathedral (252 James St N)
– YWCA (75 MacNab St S)
– Corktown Park Pavilion (Forest Ave & Aurora St)
– Volunteer Hamilton (267 King St E)
Our fleet of voting vans will be parked in strategic locations today. This morning, they will be accessible to residents attending Sunday service at Philpott Memorial Church, Church of the Ascension, First Pilgrim United Church, Stewart Memorial Church, and One Community Church. This afternoon, one van each will visit Baywoods Place and Durand Seniors Residence. Throughout the day, they may be found in places such as Gore Park and Pier 8.
The ballots will be counted at and the results will be announced from 267 King St E tonight around 10pm EST.
Norman M. Kearney
President & CEO, Participatory Budgeting Hamilton
267 King Street East, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 1B9
Tel: 905.523.4444 x 112 | Web: www.pbhamont.ca