I’ve volunteered a total of 39.5 hours this month. Most of my volunteer experiences have been single day events. This month I decided to volunteer extensively with the Burlington Braves and Participatory Budgeting Ward 2 (PBW2). The focus of this month’s post will be on PBW2.
PBW2 is a grassroots approach to municipal budgeting. Traditionally, elected representatives are the ones that decide how taxpayer money is allocated. While the public may be consulted, it’s largely out of their direct control. Endorsed by all six neighbourhood associations, this community-driven initiative won the support of Councillor Jason Farr in 2012. As a result, residents of Ward 2 have the unique opportunity to have direct input on how $1 million dollars will be spent.
Across Ward 2, several assemblies have been created. Each of these assemblies meets regularly, with residents proposing ideas to all in attendance. These ideas are then transformed into formal proposals that are sent to city staff for review. Once the review process is complete, residents review comments by staff and decide which proposals will go on the ballot. Residents will then vote on the proposals at local polling stations on August 24 & 25.
I’ve become involved with this process as an assembly organizer for Hamilton’s North End. There have been so many great ideas proposed by residents. Here are some of the projects currently being discussed:
- Converting Cannon Street into a Complete Street
- Legacy projects that would attract tourists to Hamilton (e.g., having the world’s largest rock climbing wall)
- Art in the Park (e.g., having various plays and re-enactments)
- Adding attractions to Bayfront Park (e.g., canoe/kayak rentals, splash pool, and public art, etc.)
- Beautification Project (e.g., decorated sidewalks, financial assistance for the Adopt-a-Park program, etc.)
- A skateboard park in the North End
Community meetings are ongoing. If you’d like to participate, visit the PBW2 website to find the meeting location nearest you.