Planned upgrades to Sandhills Park in ward 9 currently involve a process new to the City of Kitchener: participatory budgeting. This process invites resident involvement in decision making by first allocating municipal funds to a particular project, then letting residents decide the shape of the final outcome.
The city sought input from residents through three different public meetings as well as online surveys and voting. Priorities for the park were identified through this process. Those involved in the Sandhills Park improvements chose a natural playground, perennial gardens, as well as a community event space.
It is exciting to see Kitchener willing to utilize innovative processes such as participatory budgeting. I believe participatory budgeting helps create the type of city I want to see, one that is inclusive, engaged, and supported. By offering a variety of ways for citizen involvement in this budget allocation process, the city hears and includes a wider variety of voices and opinions. Engaged neighbours provide input, feedback, and vote on next steps. The city supports residents by funding the new park improvements.
I applaud the city’s participatory budgeting pilot. Continued feedback from residents about the process will help guide its effective use and possible expansion into a wider range of future projects.