Victoria residents invited to vote on funding youth-focused projects

Projects that improve the lives of youth are the focus of this year’s City of Victoria participatory budgeting program.

“This is something I’ve been working on since I was a councillor so it’s nice to see it come to fruition,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.

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There are 16 short-listed projects vying for up to $50,000 in funding. Now it is the community’s turn to weigh in by voting on which projects should receive funding.

“This year the exciting part about it is the whole process is being led by the Victoria Youth Council. So we asked them to take a leadership role,” Helps said. The plan is for the focus next year to be on newcomers — immigrants to Canada — and in 2021 to be “neighbourhood placemaking.”

“That’s what they’ve been doing in Guelph since 1999 — neighbourhoods having to discern amongst themselves what investments are made in each neighbourhood.

“It’s meant to be a process of education as much as anything else,” she said.

This is the second year that Victoria has tried participatory budgeting, giving the community the opportunity to decide how to invest a portion of the city budget.

The idea is to make available a certain pool of funds for projects such as crosswalks or playgrounds and provide an opportunity for residents to come to a consensus on how they want the money spent.

Projects vying for votes include a series of workshops on repurposing used and unwanted clothes, a free Gorge Waterway Expo for youth, and providing free tennis instruction and equipment to children and youth facing financial or developmental disadvantages.

“What surprised me was the diversity of the applications,” said Helps. “I think it’s going to be really difficult for people who are voting to make decisions. There’s everything from homelessness to tennis to food.”

A participatory budgeting “Street Team” will host pop-up voting stations at community events including at Fern Fest on Saturday.

To view all 16 projects and vote and go to cvyc.ca/pb or vote in person at Victoria City Hall through July 19.

The selected projects will be announced in August and get underway in the fall.

Last year the three projects that were selected, out of 28 submissions, were awarded $52,500 after about 4,300 people cast ballots.

The selected projects were:

Next Steps Employment Program, $25,000. To be run by the Our Place Society, the program will create pathways to employment for the city’s most vulnerable.

Urban Alive Pop-Up Native Bee Apiary, $11,500. Border Free Bees, Emily Carr University and Pollinator Partnerships Canada will work together to design and build an apiary to house docile native bees and offer educational opportunities for the public.

Learning Garden, $16,000. Food Eco District and Lifecycles Project Society will build an educational outdoor classroom at the Greater Victoria Public Library’s Central branch.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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