Yes. It’s Your Turn
This Fall, Sutton citizens aged 10 and over will get the chance to vote for their preferred project in the Town’s very first participatory budget for which $50,000 has been allocated from the Town’s investment funds.
Good news ! If you are a Sutton citizen, it is your turn to take part in something that started in Brazil in 1989, has spread worldwide to over 7,000 cities, arrived in Quebec about ten years ago and has already happened for our neighbours in Granby and Austin. Yes, this Fall, Sutton citizens aged 10 and over will get the chance to vote for their preferred project in the Town’s very first participatory budget for which $50,000 has been allocated from the Town’s investment funds.
The basic objective of participatory budgeting is pretty simple: to let community members decide how some part of a public budget be spent; the phrase often used is “Giving people real power over real money”. In practical terms, this means citizens (rather than elected officials and administrators) propose projects, help improve them and then vote for their favorites. In 2024, the municipality will realise the people’s top choice or choices.
For this first 2023/24 edition, the format used by the Town of Sutton follows a proven series of five steps: design the process, brainstorm ideas, develop proposals, vote, fund the winning projects. The mandate to develop the process was given to Sutton’s Quality of Life Committee which is composed of 7 citizens of all ages plus two council members (of which I am one). Bilingual meetings, both in person and online, were held earlier in the year to explain the rules and present examples of projects from other municipalities. Some citizens had ideas straight away for a project they wanted to submit; an ideas generation workshop helped other citizens work together to come up with ideas, and then to form groups to develop proposals.
The projects and the voters
For a first try at participatory budgeting, the results so far are impressive, 29 proposals were submitted – all very interesting – and of these, 16 were judged as admissible according to the published rules. Projects were submitted from people aged 10 to 75 covering many different aspects of Sutton life. An improvement workshop gave all citizens a chance to contribute any ideas they had to make projects even more suited to the community’s needs; opportunities to combine or incorporate similar projects were also discussed. Over the summer, the Town’s specialist staff will work on this list of projects to cost them and plan how they could be realised in 2024.
Later this year, the final version of the projects will be presented to the community of Sutton before the official voting period. The intention is to make voting as inclusive and accessible as possible; this includes extending voting to our younger citizens (aged 10 and above) and by having voting stations in places like the school and the Saturday market.
Time to make your voice heard
The number and quality of projects submitted, the participation of younger people and the new links made by people working together on proposals are all hallmarks of participatory budgeting success, but the real test is the number of people who will make their views known in the most fundamental way possible – by voting for their preferred projects in the period from October 10 to 22, 2023. I hope you will be one of them.
Full details are available at www.revons.sutton.ca.