FREDERICTON – In a move to foster better resident engagement, the City of Fredericton held its first public consultation to develop its 2013 budget last night. Similar to Saint John’s ServiceSJ in scope, the meetings are designed to gather input towards city priorities while providing plenty of information on the breakdown of revenues and expenditures. There are three meetings remaining.
In a unique use of the platform, Fredericton is also using a Facebook event for the public to leave their comments about the services and priorities they want action on. The event is open for feedback till September 30th.
While not a novel idea, even in Canada, this is a different approach for Maritime cities. But are these concrete steps towards Participatory Budgets? That remains to be seen, but any open and democratic process that enables residents to directly challenge, shape and support allocations is to be supported.
While the participatory process itself can be messy, participatory budget programs foster solidarity towards the common good. Politicians and bureaucrats must not manipulate the process to ask residents where they want service cuts or to serve to legitimize their decisions or worse, ignore any progressive input gathered.
Fredericton and Saint John are to be commended on at least starting the conversation, how about the others? Are you listening Moncton? Are you listening Halifax?
What: Design Fredericton – public meetings on 2013 budget
When & Where:
• Tuesday, September 18, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the STU Conference Centre, Forest Hill Road.
• Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the Johnson Avenue Senior’s Centre, Nashwaaksis, Johnson Avenue.
• Wednesday, September 26, 2012 at 7:00 p.m., in the Community Room at Willie O’Ree Place, Cliff Street.
• Thursday, September 27, 2012, at 7:00pm, in the Stepping Stone Seniors Centre, Saunders Street.
photo by Ryan Lebel