Connect – Communicate – Collaborate

Participatory Budget Projects 2016

Citizen Driven Community Action

BY CHERYL LYON 

THIS IS YOUR INVITATION TO JUMP INTO $20,000 WORTH OF PB!

 And that doesn’t mean peanut butter!

 Have you dreaded “community involvement”? Likely it’s because any time you did get involved, it was boring or frustrating – everyone complaining and blaming.

Well…there are other ways.  Participatory Budgeting – PB for short – is one of them. And it’s here in Peterborough: Now!  The idea of PB is for the  community itself to decide how to spend some if its own taxes in the City budget.

The Old Way

Oh, yes, maybe you have experienced sessions where you stand nervously in front of the City Council Budget Committee and say how you think the neighbourhood needs a sidewalk, or City employees are paid too much, or more should go to social services etc.  Then Councillors thank you for your ‘civic engagement’ and you go away mumbling with dissatisfaction.

The New Way

Now, with PB, we are starting an experiment in more authentic community engagement to learn how to have more faith in ourselves as citizens, and as authors of our own future.  Whoa! That’s a bit over the top, you say.

But we have to begin somewhere and PB is our first modest opportunity.  But it will only work if as many people as possible participate!

We can choose to accept “lip service” engagement, where some “official” asks us:

  • What are your problems, issues, complaints and grievances?
  • How would you like us (the parent figures) to take better care of you (the child figures)?
  • How can we feed into your sense of entitlement while eliminating actual empowerment?

Or, we can choose to ask different kinds of questions about our future:

  • What do we love and want to make possible in our community?
  • What talents and resources do I have to help bring these possibilities to reality?
  • What can I commit to personally, or with my neighbours, to realize these possibilities?

So How Does PB Work?

There will be some “homework,” starting with the City’s Info Session Wed. Feb. 16, 6:30 pm at Evinrude Centre.  Here, you’ll get an explanation of the PB process unfolding between now and June.

Between February and mid-June, people in each Ward will have a chance – if their Councillors create one – to get together to decide on what project they’d like to have that $20,000 for.

It has to be a “capital” project, an actual tangible thing (structure, walkway, garden, equipment etc.) that you think will improve your neighbourhood /Ward. No ongoing operational cost.

You get to design it. You can consult City staff who can help with costing, by-laws, and other information.  At the end of the process, you “pitch” your project alongside others who have come forward. Then in June, everyone gets to vote to select the project(s) for their Ward that will get the money.

This can be a lot of fun! It can be practice for future and deeper engagement with City Hall – our closest and most accessible level of government.  More than that, it can be the start of building a community that is stronger, has its own competence, and takes responsibility for itself instead of leaving governance to others.  A small start, granted, but we always have to begin somewhere.

Come on, Otonabee Ward! Get involved. Get together. Make sure Councillors Dan and Lesley know what we want, and support us getting together (they have a bit of money to do so) before it gets to be too late in the process.

Please browse this menu to see what Otonabee and other wards are up to!

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!