Public Works staff proposed at a Monday committee meeting what was described as an “ambitious” three-year program to spend $1,550,000 to convert 87 hard surface traffic islands into floral oasis along intersections.
It will cost about $143,000 annually to maintain them if councillors agree to the plan.
Staff did provide an alternative funding proposal to committee members to stretch the funding over five years rather than three at a cost of $1.58 million.
East Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, who has been a strong proponent of floral islands, said both program funding options will need to be considered at the 2017 capital budget deliberations.
Jackson has called the floral traffic island program one of the “most popular programs this city has embarked upon pre- and post- amalgamation.”
Hamilton already has 303 traffic islands with floral displays and another 71 roundabouts with plantings that are maintained by the city. Over the past five years the city has allocated $796,000 funded through the capital budget.
In addition, over the last five years the city has converted at council’s request 15 medians at a cost of just over $1 million. One of the medians being converted for 2018 is at Upper Gage and Fennell avenues. Four planted islands will be installed.
Councillors have already submitted possible locations for traffic islands to be converted in their wards. Jackson has targeted Upper Ottawa Street and Stone Church Road and Upper Ottawa Street and Fennell Avenue East as available for possible conversion.
Councillors have been effusive in their support for the floral island program. They say residents and visitors to the city praise the display arguing the flowers create a better image for Hamilton.
Council in 2006 reinstated the floral traffic island program under pressure from residents after cutting it because of rising costs.
In May, politicians requested public staff identify more locations to convert hard surface intersections into floral traffic islands. The beautification program annually costs about $1.2 million for the flowers, labour and equipment.
“It really does say we care,” west Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said.
Hamilton Community News
Source: The Hamilton Spectator