From benches to parks, Londoners vote on citizen-submitted project proposals
Londoners of all ages were invited to vote on citizen-submitted project proposals affecting five communities in the Forest City: northeast London, northwest London, southeast London, southwest London and central London.
Organized by the city, Neighbourhood Decision Making Vote Day started with 226 ideas submitted by residents, neighbourhood associations, student groups and Londoners looking to improve their city.
That number was winnowed down by city staff to the 143 project proposals included on the ballot.
“Some of the ideas just aren’t possible for a variety of reasons,” said Ryan Craven, a supervisor of community development at the City of London. All ideas were reviewed by city staff before being placed on the ballot.
“The main vetting is saying, ‘is this within budget? Is this physically possible?”
“One of the many outcomes we want this program to achieve is greater civic engagement,” added Craven, speaking to the decision to allow Londoners of all ages to vote.
This is the second time around for Neighbourhood Decision Making Vote Day. London piloted the project back in 2016.
“It’s a phenomenon that’s happening in different cities around the world. Toronto does it, New York City does it,” said Craven. “It’s growing.”
“I thinks important to get citizen input,” said Londoner Kerry Benson.
Benson hadn’t heard of the vote prior to Saturday and was pleasantly surprised to see what was happening in the central branch of London Public Library.
Kevin Korner was another Londoner casting his vote on Saturday, a vote that he said made him feel “empowered”. Korner added that one of his votes went towards the proposed “Make Mitches Park a Gem Again” project.
“I’m from the southwest, so the cleaning up of Mitches Park stood out to me,” Korner said. “A park is great for everybody.”
Colleen Naylor was not allowed to vote as she’s from out of town, but was happy to accompany one of the youngest voters on Saturday — her London-born granddaughter.
“I was really surprised that they were allowed to vote on the proposals,” Naylor said. “Hopefully they learn to vote young and vote often.”
The citizen-submitted proposals range from something as small as a bench or a gazebo to some of the larger ideas, such as an outdoor hockey rink in Coronation Park.
Polling stations were set up across all of London’s 15 public libraries on Saturday. To vote online or to see a list of all 143 project proposals, check out https://getinvolved.london.ca/NDM.