A client works in the computer room of Our Place, whose efforts to develop a pathway to jobs just got a boost from Victoria city council.

Direct democracy results in community projects

Three of 28 project submissions win out

The City of Victoria has joined with municipalities around the world by venturing into what Julien Braun, participatory budgeting steering committee spokesperson, describes as an example of “direct democracy”.

It’s the first year for this program, which invited citizens to suggest initiatives that would make Victoria a better place, with their ideas ranked in a free public vote.

Within those broad parameters, the 28 submissions received by the committee were reviewed by an independent citizen group of volunteers who consulted with experts within the city’s bureaucracy to ensure that the concepts were not already in play, and that they were physically and legally viable.

Eight applications remained after some submissions were withdrawn by the applicants and others were deemed to be impossible for logistical or legal reasons.

“We were initially concerned that we would have some goofy applications submitted, like the Boaty McBoatface situation in Great Britain, where the public’s input was invited to name a publicly owned research vessel. Nothing like that happened,” said Braun.

“All of our submissions were serious and spoke to what people in the community thought was important.”

RELATED: City of Victoria wants input on how to spend $50,000 in community cash

The remaining eight project ideas were shared with the community and votes were cast to determine which of them would ultimately be given a portion of the $55,000 budget allocation. The committee received 4,300 votes to determine the successful projects, and City Council had no control or input in the final decision.

The first of the three final projects saw Our Place receive $25,000 for their Next Steps Employment Program, a project to create pathways to gainful employment for Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens.

The second approved project was as different from the first as possible, with the Pollinator Partnership of Canada receiving $11,500 for a native bee apiary installation that will appear in a variety of locations and serve to enhance native bee communities in downtown areas. This, say the project’s proponents, will aid in the pollination of urban gardens.

Finally, a $16,000 project submitted by the Food Eco District (FED) and LifeCycles, will see the construction of a “learning garden” at the downtown branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

The learning garden will be a community space and outdoor classroom where the public will learn about all things gardening. FED and LifeCycles will work with the library to run ongoing educational programming at the site to help citizens learn how to grow food in an urban environment.

While Braun admitted that the 4,300 votes received by the committee was a relatively small number of citizen participants in the selection process, she stressed that it was largely a function of how much money was allocated to inform the City about the process and the fact that it was a pilot year for the program.

“I would love to see the number of votes grow in years to come, but this was a good start that showed that the concept can work,” said Braun, adding that, for now, she does not see the amount of money allocated to the program increasing beyond current levels.

Participatory Budgeting has gained a toehold in countries around the world, and in Chicago and New York the process is used to determine how “Alderman’s Menu Money” (discretionary funds allotted to each electoral ward) is spent. The amount of money allocated in this way in these major urban centres is measured in the millions of dollars.

editor@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

Man charged in suspected Greater Victoria bus assault

The Victoria Police Department has arrested a man for sexual assault aboard… Continue reading

Library’s French collection gets $15,000 boost

Provincial grant adds extra French-language materials to Greater Victoria Public Library collection

Cruise Industry Job Fair on Saturday

Nearly 900 jobs created by the industry

City grants 10-year tax ‘holiday’ for luxury condo building

$5.4-million tax break will offset Custom House heritage redevelopment

Celebrating the heroic dogs of Saanich past

Cedar Hill exhibit features great dogs of history

President praises nearly 1,800 volunteers at B.C. Games

Ashley Wadhwani sits down with the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games President Niki Remesz

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Minor injuries after car veers into Courtenay dance studio

A driver and passenger were taken to hospital after their vehicle crashed… Continue reading

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Cougars hold upper hand on Westshore in VIJHL South semifinal

Victoria leads series 2-0, games 3 and 4 go tonight and tomorrow

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

Most Read