Participatory budgeting bringing infrastructure to Rustic

The third and final phase of the City of Toronto’s Participatory Budgeting Pilot Project will kick off in early-September 2017.

In the final phase of the pilot, Rustic has a lot to look forward to. Several light posts, along with water bottle filling stations, will be coming to both Rustic and Maple Leaf Parks. Some of the more “fun” ideas voted in include a movie wall, which was championed by local youth, in Maple Leaf Park, and a ping pong table in Rustic Park.

Rustic, one of York South—Weston’s six Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (N.I.A.s) (formerly known as Priority Neighbourhoods), was chosen as one of the three areas in Toronto for the pilot to take place in. Rustic is located in the northwest end of the riding, bounded by the 401 to the north, Culford Road to the east, Lawrence Avenue West to the south, and Jane Street to the west.

Participatory budgeting is exactly what it sounds like; it lets members of the community decide the allocation of city funds for infrastructure. While this is the City’s first time officially trying participatory budgeting, it has been used by other cities such as Boston and New York. Toronto Community Housing also has a Participatory Budgeting program for tenants.

In Rustic, $150,000 was allocated to the N.I.A. for the project’s first phase, and $250,000 has been allocated for each of the final two phases.

Before participatory budgeting came to Rustic in 2015, most of its parks were dilapidated with worn out playground equipment and a dire need for more lighting.

The City of Toronto’s Participatory Budgeting team at the 2017 Falstaff Summerfest.

Once the final phase of the project is complete, a report will go to City Council on whether the City should continue with the project or not.

Weston should keep an eye on participatory budgeting. Like Rustic, Weston is home to several different demographic groups, and is always looking for new infrastructure. Participatory Budgeting can promote social cohesion and community relationships, but it can also expose decades-old community divisions. When involving ourselves in civic engagement, we should look to what makes the community—and city—more liveable for everyone as opposed to what might make it a little bit better in the short-term for ourselves and a few of our neighbours. This is the lesson that participatory budgeting teaches.

If you want to see the full list of ideas or if you live in Rustic, you can submit ideas here.

Nunziata votes to censure Mayor Ford

Frances Nunziata, our councillor and the Speaker of Toronto City Council, rebuked Mayor Ford today. She joined an overwhelming majority of city councillors who asked the mayor to take a leave, apologize to the city, and cooperate with police. Frances Nunziata has been one of Ford’s most steadfast friends and loyal supporters.

Nunziata also had a tough day as Speaker. She drew the fire of Robyn Doolittle, the reporter who broke the crack story, who said, “Councillor Frances Nunziata is widely disliked in the role of speaker. Councillors believe she lets the Fords off and is partisan.”

She was also criticized by twitterers and redditors for not quieting down the Fords quickly enough on a number of occasions. At one point  sure to make the evening news, Doug Ford repeatedly demanded of Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong—the instigator of motions against Ford—whether he had ever smoked pot, as if that were equal to Ford’s crimes.

Doug Ford’s shouting about pot went on and on while people yelled “Frances! Frances!” presumably begging her to use her powers as speaker shut him up. Yet whether she did him a favour or disservice by allowing him to continue is debatable.

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Ford twice moved quickly—and, if you ask me, a indecorously, if not aggressively, toward Minnan–Wong, and at one point blocked his way. Nunziata tried, unsuccessfully, to get Ford to apologize. He refused at length. When he said in protest and only to Nunziata, “Madam Speaker, I’m sorry…”, she cut off his microphone and said, “Thank you, Mayor Ford…. That’s all I wanted you to say.” Even he laughed a little at having  the rug pulled out from under him.