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Outcomes Of May Meeting Of Community Committee

Applications to the $1 million social services fund set up as part of Hamilton City Council’s 12-point pandemic recovery plan are closely scrutinised to make sure the money is going where it can be immediately effective, the Council’s Community Committee heard yesterday (19 May 2020).

The Committee’s Deputy Chair, Councillor Kesh Naidoo-Rauf, assured other councillors the small group charged with allocating the emergency funding was “dissecting every single application” to make sure the money was going to immediate, COVID-19-related needs.

She was impressed by the “kindness of people in our city, the diversity that exists among all the different groups and how the pure need to help others has brought all these people together to work in collaboration”.

In his Chair’s Report, Cr Mark Bunting noted the great need from community groups for funding to support vulnerable Hamiltonians. This need would remain significant as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in.

“We are looking hard at the effectiveness of our funding to our community organisations, events, arts groups and sporting organisations and we will need to have a very clear idea of our role as we head into the Annual Plan and next year’s Long-Term Plan.”

Holly Snape from Community Waikato, speaking in the public forum, described a massive increase in collaboration between community groups since the COVID-19 crisis began. Gaps in support had been identified and plugged, and some initiatives that had sprung from the immediate need were likely to continue, such as Pukete Neighbourhood House’s “shop and drop” service, which enables vulnerable people to receive grocery orders without leaving the house, and the Here to Help U online community support tool.

Jeremy Mayall from Creative Waikato emphasised the important role the arts and culture sector would play in supporting the city’s recovery post-pandemic. People had turned to cultural activities during the past two months to support their mental wellbeing in a time of high stress. He said arts groups often operated on low levels of public funding and he encouraged the Council to consider arts funding as part of its recovery plans.

A business case on redevelopment of two Council-owned houses on Memorial Dr, including their potential use as a café and community-leased space, will be brought back to the Committee’s September meeting. The business case will also cover the possibility of selling the properties.

The houses are in Memorial Park (57 Memorial Dr) and Parana Park (103 Memorial Dr) and were included in a group of Council-owned houses whose future use was considered by the Committee. The Memorial Dr houses are traditionally rented to Council staff as they are within parks that are locked at night.

The report looked at the cost of maintaining Council-owned houses to a rentable standard, the income they were likely to generate and other potential uses. Two houses will be removed, with the land at 18a Ruakiwi Rd returned to green space and the land at 140a Cobham Dr incorporated into the Municipal Nursery at Hamilton Gardens. Staff will report back to the Committee on options for the future use of 88 Crosby Rd, beside Porritt Stadium, for the community’s benefit.

Council Social Development Manager Andy Mannering reported to the Committee on the outcome of the 2020 Single-Year Community Grant funding allocation. A total of $440,000 has been allocated to 108 community organisations.

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