A number of the Boards and Commissions that rely on grants from the City of Hamilton will be making their pitches to the GIC budget meeting tomorrow. Among them will be the conservation authorities and the Royal Botanical Gardens , which will be represented by the new CEO of RBG Nancy Rowland.
Typically the gardens attract between 350,000 and 400,000 visitors per year but that number is down significantly in 2020 due to the COVID outbreak. As a result the RBG was only able to generate half of its $18 Million dollar budget, compared to over 60 percent in a normal year. Hamilton provides about 4 percent of RBG revenue or something in excess of $700,000 per year. RBG was able to make up some of that loss through special funding from the Federal Government.
From 366,000 visits to RBG in 2019, attendance dropped by almost 50 percent in 2020 and as a result of more restricted access more members did not renew in 2020. In its presentation RBG notes it is the most visited attraction between Niagara Falls and Toronto.
The report notes that April 1st marks RBG’s 80th anniversary. It was incorporated in 1941 after existing for a decade as a branch of the City of Hamilton’s Board of Parks Management. Hamilton MPP Thomas Baker McQuesten shepherded the incorporation through the Ontario Legislature as Hamilton’s member of the Provincial Cabinet A decade-by-decade narrative will be unraveled throughout the year showcasing the work and impact of RBG supported with unique year-round experiences.
RBG has 250 acres of cultivated gardens which is roughly four Gage Parks. Overall in comprises 2,700 acres most of it surrounding Coote’s Paradise, with 31 trails totalling 27 kilometers in length.
The report makes mention of the RBG’s 25-year strategic plan, which has been talked about in various RBG news releases in recent months and has received Board approval, but which has not yet been shared with the public.