Fostering community through participatory budgeting

All filming took place before COVID-19 restrictions.

Winning projects have been adopted through a community vote and are being implemented with the support of the City.

What is participatory budgeting?

Participatory budgeting is a process used in cities around the world to involve citizens in government spending decisions that impact or benefit them.

While the mechanics and processes of participatory budgeting can vary, they generally follow an agreed upon series of steps:

  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Proposal development for community improvement projects
  • Community vote
  • Report back
  • Project implementation

Help us decide where to invest funds in the West End

We’ve launched a participatory budgeting process to distribute additional revenue collected through West End permit parking fees.

We made the commitment at the time that this incremental revenue would be directed back into the West End community, and that the community would decide where the funds would be invested.

Why we are piloting participatory budgeting in the West End

  • It is a part of the follow up to the West End Parking Strategy implemented in 2017, which resulted in additional parking revenue being collected
  • The West End is an ideal neighbourhood to pilot the participatory budgeting process because of its manageable geographic size and rich community networks
  • To test and evaluate the process for possible future use with other projects in other areas of the city

Status of West End participatory budgeting projects as of July 2022

Project Status
Sidewalk improvements  Complete
Christine Fretwell and Kathryn Gibbons memorial gift to West End students Complete
West End calisthenics park Complete

Your involvement

We thank everyone who contributed to the WE Choo$e community vote earlier this spring. From January 25 to February 4, over 8,600 people who live, work, or volunteer in the West End cast their ballots in Vancouver's first participatory budgeting community vote. 14 community-identified projects were on the ballot vying for $100,000 in potential funding.

The winning projects were presented to City Council on March 31 2020, and implementation for them are underway. Review this page for updates on the implementation of the following projects: 

  • Christine Fretwell and Kathryn Gibbons Memorial Gift to West End Students
    This is a grant to students in King George Secondary and Lord Roberts Elementary for much needed equipment and will be distributed using a simplified participatory budgeting model. Project value: $20,000.
  • Sidewalk improvements
    Sidewalk replacement and repairs at six locations in the West End to remove tripping hazards and enhance safety. Project value: $30,000.
  • West End Calisthenics Park
    Creation of a calisthenics space at Barclay Heritage Square to enable residents to pursue and maintain their physical fitness. Project value: $50,000.

Increases civic involvement

An effective, meaningful and measurable participatory budgeting process can increase civic involvement by:

  • Allowing members of the public to practice empowered decision-making for their community
  • Creating opportunities for the community to discuss local needs
  • Delivering projects that reflect the needs of the majority of residents

Participatory Budgeting information session

By City of Vancouver

Melissa Appleton from the Participatory Budgeting Project welcoming the West End community to the first participatory budgeting information session at the Gordon Neighbourhood House on August 23, 2018.

  • Community-created ideas

    By City of Vancouver

    Attendees were asked to work with their neighbours to develop proposal ideas to spend public money. The ideas were then voted on as a group. The exercise was designed to help illustrate the participatory budgeting process.

  • Participatory Budgeting project team

    By City of Vancouver

    Left to right: Melissa Appleton (Participatory Budgeting Project), Stephen Irving (Public Engagement Specialist), Amanda Gibbs (Public Engagement Manager, City of Vancouver) and Francesco Tena (Participatory Budgeting Project)

  • Melissa Appleton from the Participatory Budgeting Project returned to Vancouver on September 27, 2018 to lead the West End Participatory Budgeting "Writing The Rules" workshop at the Gordon Neighbourhood House.

  • The product of the "Writing The Rules" workshop will be the West End Participatory Budgeting Rulebook, a living document that outlines the definition, goals, and rules of Participatory Budgeting in the West End.

  • As part of the "Writing The Rules" workshop, the West End Participatory Budgeting Leadership Council were allowed to give themselves a name. They're calling themselves the WE Choo$e Impact Team. Watch for WE Choo$e out in the West End community during their first round of public engagement expected to start in January 2019.

  • On January 23, 2019, the community-led WE Choo$e Impact Team kicked off the Idea Collection phase of Vancouver's first participatory budgeting pilot in the West End with a pop-up event at the West End Community Centre. Additional pop-up events were held in Jim Deva Plaza and on Robson Street.

  • The WE Choo$e Impact Team also hosted a series of community assemblies in partnership with neighbourhood non-profits like the Gordon Neighbourhood House, the West End Community Centre and the Dr. Peter Centre. These discussions were designed to support West End residents as they begin to develop their ideas into viable project proposals.

  • During the Idea Collection phase in January and February 2019, the public was asked to share their ideas on how to spend $100,000 to improve the West End. Between the public engagement events, community assemblies and an online survey, over 1,700 ideas and comments were submitted.

  • On April 11, 2019, the WE Choo$e Impact Team hosted an orientation event for Project Proponents at Gordon Neighbourhood House. These dedicated volunteers will take the community's over 1,700 ideas and turn them into project proposals for potential funding.

  • The Project Proponents have been organized into six sub-committees: Arts and Culture, Health, Safety and Environment, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Schools and Education. Each group will research ideas and local needs, and identify a series of projects for the community-wide vote in October.

  • On April 29, 2019, the WE Choo$e Impact Team and Project Proponents met at the West End Community Centre to learn about the Idea Ranking Tool. This tool will help further refine project ideas using a ranking system that assesses project feasibility, equity and need. The refined ideas will then be presented to City of Vancouver staff at the next WE Choo$e meeting on June 6, 2019.

  • On June 26, 2019, the WE Choo$e Impact Team and the Project Proponents submitted their draft project proposals to the City of Vancouver's Technical Team for review. Over the summer, City staff and the WE Choo$e Impact Team will refine these proposals for inclusion on the WE Choo$e ballot.

  • In November 2019 – the WE Choo$e Impact Team and Project Proponents, with the technical assistance of City staff, finalized the numerous draft proposals into 14 project proposals for the community ballot. (Photo by: Katherine Krampol)

  • On January 20, 2020 – the WE Choo$e Impact Team held a volunteer orientation and ballot box building session to fully kick-off the community voting campaign. (Photo by: Katherine Krampol)

  • From January 25 – February 4, 2020, the WE Choo$e Community Vote was held both online and in-person (through more than 15 pop-up voting stations). Voting was open to all members of the community, including: residents, businesses, workers, volunteers, and students (aged 12 and over).

  • On February 08, 2020, over 8,600 votes were tallied and the project proposals receiving the most community support were announced at a WE Choo$e community celebration and announcement event at Gordon Neighbourhood House.  (Photo by: Katherine Krampol)

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