Investing in our communities: can city hall develop community with cash contributions or do people naturally come together? City is going to try the money route.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 31, 2016


How do you build community? Doesn’t it just happen naturally? Apparently not – the city has adopted a policy that is intended to help people organize events that will pull people together for a common cause.

A house fire will always get everyone out on the street to watch the fire fighters – figuring out how to come up with something less extreme has resulted in what Burlington is calling a Community Investment Policy that provides funding for the holding of events.

In language that only a bureaucrat could write – here is that policy.


Establish the principles and practices around how the City of Burlington will invest in our community.


The City of Burlington, (“City,”) believes that residents want to contribute to the quality of life in Burlington.

Residents have great ideas about how to create both vibrant neighbourhoods and/or communities and may require support from the City for implementation of initiatives.

The City provides support for these initiatives with one-time funding for events, programs or projects that build community capacity:

• To a registered not-for-profit corporation or a group of neighbours
• For areas within the geographic boundaries of the City of Burlington
• For projects, events and activities that occurs on City of Burlington property
• Program and services that benefit the residents of the City of Burlington and
• Organizations that do not receive any other financial support from the City of Burlington


This policy applies to not-for-profit groups or a group of neighbours that use City owned and managed property for the benefit of residents of the City and happens within the geographic boundaries of the City.

This policy does not include boards and agencies of the City, school board property, Halton Conversation lands or lands of the Region of Halton or organizations that currently receive funding from the City of Burlington.


Corporation Refers to the Corporation of the City of Burlington.
Community Capacity Building A process that strengthens the relevance, responsiveness, effectiveness and resilience of organizations. For example, an event, a training session, a promotion campaign.
Community A group of people bound by common beliefs, values or interests, ethnicity or place of origin, geography or other self- identified commonality.
Events A one-off single activity, occurrence or celebration typically taking place over a concentrated period of time, such as a few hours.
Not-for-Profit Is a corporation that has articles of incorporation establishing the organization as a not-for-profit corporation
One-time funding Lump sum funding or funding that is phased out over a period no longer than three years.
The community can only apply every five years for Community Investment Funding.
Programs Refers to regularly scheduled activities (minimum once per week and 4 repetitions) of a recreational, sport, leadership development, art and cultural nature as defined by the departments Leisure Services Policy (e.g. structured programs, community leagues, camps).


The following principles are taken into consideration when investing in the community:

1. Community members want to contribute to their quality of life.
2. Community members have great ideas on how to enhance their quality of life in the public realm.
3. Community groups can be informal or organized (e.g. a group of neighbours on a street or a legally incorporated not-for-profit organization).
4. Community groups sometimes need financial assistance to launch a program, project or event and the City agrees to support with one-time funding, provided that the group is not receiving any other financial assistance from the City.
5. A community group can only receive funds once every five years.
6. The funding program (approvals, amounts) will be at the discretion of the Manager of Community Development Services as identified in the policy.


• Properties governed under another body, agency or business (e.g. school board, board or agency)
• Private Property
• Individuals
• On-going financial support such as operating grants
• Organizations whose purpose is related to political or religious activity
• For-profit organizations
• Foundations
• Schools, hospitals and public agencies
• An activity or project that conflicts with existing City policy

Annual fundraising events/projects
• Organizations or groups of individuals organizing an event, program, project or activity that is in furtherance of a position either for or against an issue over which the City is a regulator or may have a legal interest
• An event, program, project or activity that conflicts with City policies, Council decisions or directions

Policy Guidelines
There are two streams for funding

Community Capacity Building Projects*
Application Period Accepted at any time Accepted once a year
Review Team Community Development Section with subject matter experts as required Cross department team to review feasibility of the proposal. May evolve to include community members as neighbourhood committees are developed
Review Period Once per month Three months

Criteria for Review

• Completeness of the application including organization/event budget
• Meets the eligibility criteria requirements
• Demonstrates need
• Linkage with the City’s strategic plan • Completeness of the application
• Meets the eligibility criteria requirements
• Linkage with the City’s strategic plan
• Will provide a public benefit
• Demonstrated community interest
• Feasibility
• Demonstrates on-going maintenance and upkeep
• Ability of the community match the financial contribution from the City
• Realistic budget

Implementation Project must be completed within one year. Project must be completed within one year of the contract

In the setting of the 2016 budget city council did approve funding for the project. There have been about 15 – maybe 20 projects.

Next week we will write about several of those projects and get some sense of what works and what doesn’t work from a citizen’s point of view. The funding allocation for neighbourhood projects is set at $300 which some people feel isn’t quite enough.

Denise Beard, Manager, Community Development Services, has a target of having 150 projects on the go in the city during 2017 – the year that Canada celebrates its sesquicentennial – this country came into being 150 years ago.

It is a brave target – let’s see how it works!

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