Mayor Fred fundraising for giant city hall sign
Would be an opportunity for private sector to make its mark for Canada’s 150th
Toronto has one. Amsterdam has one. And now Fred Eisenberger wants Hamilton to have one as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.
The mayor says he’s drumming up roughly $250,000 in private funding to build a sign spelling “Hamilton” in giant letters, which would be located on the city hall forecourt.
“It would simply say ‘Hamilton’ and would have private sector funding associated with it and certainly not to be paid from the tax coffers,” he says.
“We’re fundraising for it and we have a design and once I have a more complete package, I’ll certainly be bringing it to all members of council (for approval).”
Eisenberger says he’s going to be “a little lean” on details until council sees the plan. So it’s not clear if any private sector money is committed yet.
But the idea is to build a sign like the three-metre high and 22-metre wide one in Nathan Philips Square that says “Toronto” in illuminated letters.
Originally created for the 2015 Pan Am Games, the Toronto sign is now a photographic magnet for tourists and residents.
Eisenberger notes Amsterdam and other cities have also erected large promotional letter signs in strategic places.
“It’s something people can stand in front of, walk around and take photos of.”
PJ Mercanti, CEO of Carmen’s hospitality and entertainment group, is voluntarily championing the project for Eisenberger, along with Laura Babcock, president of Powergroup Communications, a public relations and marketing firm.
“This will be a private sector partnership with other Hamiltonians participating to bring this vision to life,” Mercanti said via email.
Mercanti sees the sign becoming a new city landmark.
“Being located right in front of city hall the sign could definitely be another distinct component of the Hamilton landscape much like the famous AGH (Art Gallery of Hamilton) sign over King Street.”
Mercanti says Eisenberger approached him with the idea as a way for the private sector to make a significant contribution to the city for Canada’s 150th birthday.
“He asked if I would be interested in leading this along with Laura Babcock, who has been a previous champion for a sign for Hamilton. As a proud Hamiltonian, I enthusiastically agreed as I think the idea is outstanding, exciting and timely.”
Babcock, to popular acclaim, revived the old idea of erecting a gateway sign on Highway 403 back in 2013. But the proposal fell flat when councillors developed a bad case of sticker shock over the $230,000 price tag.
Over the last couple of years Babcock says she’s gently reminded the mayor that the need for a trademark civic sign is still there. She’s happy to once again help move the ball down the field.
Eisenberger first floated the idea of creating a gateway sign during a January interview with CBC Hamilton. Back then, he figured it could be mobile. Babcock’s fine with it morphing into an inner city marker. The important thing, she says, is to showcase the city’s sense of pride and unity
“What it really comes down to is we were missing something, something that’s a nobrainer for a city of our size especially to have. To get some version of it done, I think, will be a good day for the city. We’re behind on this one.”
Eisenberger hopes to bring the plan to council in a month or so. It’s a pity, however, that the idea of a mobile sign seems to have been dropped. When you think about it, we could have strung the letters along the side of the Mountain, thus emulating faraway Hollywood as well as neighbouring Toronto.
What it really comes down to is we were missing something, something that’s a no-brainer for a city… LAURA BABCOCK
People take pictures with and of the “TORONTO” sign at Nathan Phillips Square in 2015.