Sher­brooke citoyen pro­poses par­tic­i­pa­tory bud­get

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL NEWS - By Gor­don Lam­bie

Can­di­dates for the Sher­brooke Citoyen mu­nic­i­pal po­lit­i­cal party gath­ered in front of city hall on Wed­nes­day morn­ing to an­nounce their plan to im­ple­ment a par­tic­i­pa­tory bud­get in Sher­brooke. Un­der the pro­posed plan, five per cent of the city’s cap­i­tal bud­get will be di­vided among the 14 dis­tricts to be re­served for projects com­ing di­rectly from the pop­u­lace.

“We want to de­cen­tral­ize (the bud­get) to the dis­tricts,” said party leader Hélène Pigot. “What we are propos­ing is au­da­cious, in­no­va­tive, and can be im­ple­mented im­me­di­ately upon be­ing elected.”

While stat­ing that the ex­act de­tails of the sys­tem still need to be sorted out, Pigot ex­plained that the ba­sic no­tion is that each district will get a por­tion of that five per cent of the bud­get rel­a­tive to its pop­u­la­tion, start­ing from a min­i­mum of $100,000. Start­ing from an over­all es­ti­mated amount of $2 mil­lion, that means that dis­tricts with larger pop­u­la­tions will get closer to $150,000 to work with.

Cit­i­zens in each district will then be asked to sub­mit ideas of what to do with their area’s piece of the pie. The ideas deemed by the coun­cil to be the most re­al­is­tic will then be re­tained for a vote and the ideas that get the most votes will be de­vel­oped.

“It’s more in­ter­est­ing to us to do this by district rather than for the city as a whole be­cause it mir­rors our pol­i­tics,” the party leader said, ex­plain­ing that while a party could just as eas­ily re­serve $2 mil­lion for one larger project, distribut­ing those funds through­out the city stands to get more res­i­dents in­volved in the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of their own com­mu­ni­ties. “Right now the city is so fo­cused on the down­town that when we visit the outer dis­tricts in Rock For­est, Len­noxville, or Bromp­ton, we get the im­pres­sion th­ese places have been aban­doned.”

Lu­dovick Nadeau, Sher­brooke Citoyen can­di­date in the Pin Soli­taire district, shared party mem­bers con­sis­tently hear ideas from cit­i­zens about how the city could be im­proved and ar­gued that putting the power to pro­pose new ideas more di­rectly into the hands of lo­cals stands to in­crease en­gage­ment in mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs.

“The par­tic­i­pa­tory bud­get will bring peo­ple to­gether,” Nadeau said, adding that there are in­ter­est­ing pre-ex­ist­ing models of the idea in place in cities around the world.

Both can­di­dates said that they feel that, with some over­sight to help guide the de­vel­op­ment of ideas, the new bud­get for­mat will pro­duce con­crete ideas to move the city for­ward.

Claude Dostie Jr., com­mu­ni­ca­tions rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the party, clar­i­fied that un­der the pro­posed plan Len­noxville is treated as one district, rather than giv­ing dis­tinct bud­gets to the bor­ough dis­tricts of Fairview and Up­lands. De­spite that, how­ever, he noted that the smaller dis­tricts of Len­noxville and Bromp­ton stand to ben­e­fit the most be­cause the di­vi­sions have a min­i­mum of $100,000 re­gard­less of pop­u­la­tion.

Asked about what the five per cent would be taken away from, Pigot said that it re­mains to be seen ex­actly how the break­down will hap­pen. She was con­fi­dent, how­ever, that the $2 mil­lion could eas­ily be drawn from other sources within the cap­i­tal bud­get.

The party leader also clar­i­fied that it has yet to be de­cided whether the city as a whole would vote on the ideas in each district or if that would be up to lo­cal pop­u­la­tions, al­though she showed a pref­er­ence for the lat­ter.

“I am in­clined to say it will be the district be­cause it is the district’s project,” the party leader said.

On what would hap­pen if none of the ideas pro­posed in a given district were deemed fea­si­ble, Pigot ex­pressed a hope that fund­ing could be saved from one year to the next. She shared a con­cern, how­ever, that such a process might be more com­pli­cated than it sounds.

GOR­DON LAM­BIE

Sher­brooke Citoyen can­di­dates (back, l to r) Richard Va­chon, Raymond Gau­dreault, Julie Dionne, Chris­tine Labrie, Mo­hamed Barouti, (front, l to r) Ed­win Moreno, He­lene Pigot, Lu­dovick Nadeau, and Eve­lyne Beaudin at the pre­sen­ta­tion of their par­tic­i­pa­tory bud­get plan

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