Participatory Budgeting Victoria
Your Dollars. Your Decisions. Your City. How would you spend $60,000?
Participatory budgeting is an innovative, democratic process that gives the entire community the opportunity to participate and decide how to invest a portion of the City budget. This approach is being piloted in Victoria based on successful experience and investments made in several other cities across the globe.
What is participatory budgeting?
Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which the municipality allocates an amount of money for residents to propose and vote upon community projects. It was originally introduced in 1989 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and is now common across the globe in varying forms and deliberative processes.
This participatory budgeting pilot builds on increased public participation in the City’s budget process over the past two years.
How does a participatory budgeting process work?
The design of a participatory budgeting process is completed by citizens, which includes reaching out to community members, working with the community to identify projects and voting on the project that the community feels should receive the funds.
The City supports the process, but will not play a role in the deliberation or decision, nor do elected officials. Citizens are empowered to decide how the funds are invested.
Where did this idea to pilot participatory budgeting come from?
Most common to Latin American cities, many participatory processes focus on investment in essential public infrastructure. In the United Kingdom, participatory budgeting was introduced in the early 2000's, and added a more social context to consider participatory processes in deliberations around housing and poverty. In North America, cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto, Guelph, and closer to home, Tofino, have introduced participatory budgeting components to their annual municipal budgets. In terms of financial allocations for piloting participatory budgets in other cities, they range from nominal amounts to larger allocations of millions in large cities like Chicago and New York. More localized examples are: Toronto $450,000, Guelph $125,000 and Tofino $20,000.
Victoria's process is being supported by the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit agency based out of New York City that grew out of a 2005 social forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil, who have since helped participatory processes across Canada and the US.
Current / Upcoming:
- Develop steering committee (March/April)
- Ideas collection (Spring)
- Proposal development (Summer)
- Community voting (Summer / Fall)
- Implement the community’s decision (Within 12 months)
- April 2017: A call-out was made for steering committee members
- January 2017: Introduce process. A kick-off was held on January 12, 2017, facilitated by the Participatory Budgeting Project. Introductory training on participatory budgeting was provided to community members, adding support to the citizen body that will form. City staff and public sector agencies also received training on how best to support the process.
- November 2015: Report to Council [PDF - 113 KB]
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