Toronto Community Housing�s Participatory Budgeting (PB) program helps instill a pride of place among residents by giving them a say in how capital dollars are invested in their communities. Now in its twelfth year, PB has been given a $5 million investment out off Toronto Community Housing�s $128 million 2014 capital repair budget.�
Resident and eight-time Participatory Budgeting participant Sheikh Mohammed said that what he loves most about the process is, �the democracy, of course. There�s a vote, and people can choose and support each other and prioritize their needs.�
Resident �Sheikh Mohammed reviews safety projects before going to vote
On June 19, 2014, residents from 52 communities came together at the safety allocation day and chose �23 safety-related projects to receive funding. Projects include new fencing to prevent trespassers, improved lighting at building entrances and exits, and the installation of new key FOB systems.�
PB provides residents with an opportunity to get involved and this year many first-time participants came out to advocate for projects in their community.
�When we get home, we�re going to yell out that we won!� said Naomi, 14, after learning that the safety project she presented with two other youth from the Kingston Galloway community would receive funding. �This shows that not only adults can come out to present and vote for projects in their community, youth can do it too!�
From left to right:�Deandre, age 11,�Naomi, �age 14, and Kiandrea, age 14 show off their safety project display�
After the successful projects are chosen, residents can continue to support the process by joining the PB Central Monitoring Committee.
�The monitoring committee is made up of residents who volunteer from various communities and go back to staff throughout the year to review the progress and the scheduling of projects,� said resident delegate Ken Bedford.
Participatory Budgeting allows residents to have a real say in decisions that affect their lives and their community.
�PB is important because it gives us a voice and shows that tenants can make a change if they get involved,� said Bedford. �I get a lot out of participating�there is both community gratification and self-gratification.��
Participatory Budgeting is about more than including residents in decision-making. By placing residents at the heart of the process, it helps target resources to resident priorities, and build vibrant communities and a renewed sense of place.
�Resident members of the PB Central Monitoring Committee Ken Bedford and Charmaine Roye read out ballots
�To me, safety is about protecting your community,� said resident Charmaine Roye. �It�s about making our communities a good place to live.�
Toronto Community Housing�s buildings are rapidly aging, and will require $2.6 billion in capital repairs over the next decade to remain in a livable state. Together with the City of Toronto, Toronto Community Housing has secured one-third of that need and is now calling on the provincial and federal governments to also invest in social housing infrastructure.