Community Voting

Participatory Budgeting to allocate our local Parks and Footpaths Budget

What is Community Voting?

Community Voting (also known as ‘Participatory Budgeting’) is a democratic decision making process we use to allocate $350 000 of our annual ward Parks & Footpaths budget. We keep a further $50 000 of this budget in reserve in case any urgent needs are overlooked.

In Community Voting every resident can directly vote on how this local budget is spent.

This process begins by residents of the Gabba Ward suggesting project ideas via public meetings and/or our website. People who don’t live inside the ward but who have a strong interest in the area can opt in. The feasibility and approximate cost of these projects is then determined by the Brisbane City Council.

Residents will be able to debate and discuss spending priorities, and present arguments for and against each project ideas.

As the suggested project list is finalised, every resident of the Gabba Ward will receive a direct vote on which projects are prioritized.

Please note, this budget is strictly for footpaths and equipment in public parks. It’s not enough money to spend on road infrastructure or pedestrian crossings (apparently a single set of traffic lights can cost council as much as half a million dollars) – any project that requires road closures or resurfacing bitumen becomes significantly more expensive.

Our 2017 Community Voting Process is now live. You can suggest projects, make comments and vote for suggestions by clicking the link at the top of this page.

It’s time to start thinking about what you would like to see the money spent on this year. Would you prefer more public seating? Or a basketball court in the local park? The funds available are small – but this represents a great opportunity to continue to test new ways of involving the community in council decision-making.

Some more information on Community Voting
Around the world, new initiatives are showing how the public can participate more actively in all types of policy development, including budget planning. For example, in 2014, Noosa Shire Council established a citizen’s jury to make recommendations about management of the Noosa River. Also in 2014, the City of Melbourne—a local government with an annual budget close to $400 million— implemented a citizen’s jury to make recommendations about their 10 Year Financial Plan. This type of public participation has been trialled in many Australian local governments, including Darebin City Council (VIC), Penrith City Council (NSW) and City of Greater Bendigo (VIC), and much more widely overseas.

 

We want to see Brisbane City Council adopt participatory budgeting strategies to give ordinary residents a direct say in how its $3 billion budget is spent. Unfortunately, as a single Greens councillor, I don’t have much direct influence over council’s annual budget. However, I do have control over a $400 000 discretionary budget for footpaths, park benches and minor landscaping here in the Gabba Ward. We will be distributing this budget through a Community Voting process.

Normally, city councillors allocate their discretionary budget however they see fit. They take suggestions from residents but then make up their own mind about what projects to prioritise. I would prefer to democratise this process.

 

2016 Participatory Budgeting (Community Voting) Process
In 2016 my office trialled Participatory Budgeting (Community Voting) in the Gabba Ward

 

We held workshops and discussion groups throughout the ward to talk through what kind of changes people wanted to see in their neighbourhood. We encouraged participants to listen to each other’s perspectives and think about the underlying problems we were trying to solve, rather than just jumping on the first suggestion that sprung to mind.

Others that were unable to make these workshops suggested projects through our website. The comments section of each of these projects provided an online space for dialogue between residents.

As these suggestions flowed in, we asked Brisbane City Council to provide approximate costs for each Eligible project. Some of the Suggested Projects weren’t feasible (either because they were far too expensive, or because we’re not allowed to spend this budget on that kind of infrastructure).

Once the list of Suggested Projects was finalized, we ran a two-week voting process where every resident of the Gabba Ward had the opportunity to cast a direct vote on which of these suggested projects are prioritised.

Naturally the trial wasn’t perfect. Not everyone heard about the system, and so if they didn’t get along to one of the workshops or didn’t know to access the website, they might have missed out on having their voice heard.

Another limitation was that the Lord Mayor and the other city councillors still set restrictions on how the money could be used, so while residents had a lot of choices to make, the parameters of debate were still somewhat controlled by the political establishment.

On the whole though, the trial was a big success. Hundreds of people voted for their preferred ideas, and now those projects are getting delivered throughout the Gabba Ward. The successful projects include a basketball half-court in West End, lights for a dog park in Woolloongabba, picnic shelters, public barbeques, playground shade structures and footpath upgrades.

Woolloongabba

Sunday 16 April

3.30pm-5.00pm

Woolloongabba Rotary Park

19 Camberwell St

Event Link 

Highgate Hill

Monday 10 April

6.30pm-7.30pm

Turnstyle

10 Laura St, Highgate Hill

Event Link

East Brisbane

Wednesday 19 April

6.30pm-8.30pm

East Brisbane Bowls Club

28 Lytton Rd, East Brisbane

Event link

West End

Thursday 13 April

8.30am-10.00am

West End Uniting Church

11 Sussex St, West End

Event link

Kangaroo Point

Monday 24 April

6.30pm-8.30pm

Medley Cafe and Restaurant

62 Wharf St, Kangaroo Point

Event link

West End

Friday 14 April

6.00pm-8.00pm

Kurilpa Hall

174 Boundary St, West End

Event link

West End

Thursday 6 April

10.30am-12.30am

Kurilpa Hall

174 Boundary St, West End

Event link

Dutton Park

Thursday 20 April

10.00am-11.30am

Harmony Gardens

285 Gladstone Rd, Dutton Park

Event Link

Do you have questions or need more information?

 

Community Voting FAQS

You can find our Community Voting FAQ page here
Click here

2016 Funded Project List

To check out the projects that were funded through Community Voting (formerly known as Participatory Budgeting) in 2016
Click here

 

 

An explanatory video from 2016 Participatory Budgeting