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BIG CITY, BIG IDEAS | Funding Democracy: Participatory Budgeting in Canada

May 5, 2016 @ 4:00 am - 5:30 pm


One of the most pressing challenges facing today’s cities is how to involve the public in the machinery of government and its fiscal decisions in a meaningful way. Participatory budgeting, a model derived from the Brazilian experience, gives the public the right to propose, deliberate, and vote on a part of the city budget. Does participatory budgeting actually improve democracy, transparency, and accountability, or is it simply another consultation tool in disguise? On May 5, IMFG hosted a panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges of implementing participatory budgeting in Canadian cities.


Josh Lerner is the Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, the leading non-profit supporting participatory budgeting in the US and Canada. His work has been recognized by the White House as a model for open government, and by the Brown Democracy Medal as the best practical innovation advancing democracy around the world. He is the author of two books, Making Democracy Fun: How Game Design Can Empower Citizens and Transform Politics (MIT Press, 2014) and Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy? (Cornell University Press, 2014).


  • Shelley Carroll, Toronto City Councillor for Ward 33 Don Valley East
  • Alex Mazer, Co-Founder, Better Budget TO


Peter MacLeod, Co-founder and principal of MASS LBP, and one of Canada’s leading experts in public engagement and deliberative democracy


This event was part of the “Big City, Big Ideas (BCBI)” lecture series, organized by the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the University of Toronto, in collaboration with its BCBI Partners: The School of Public Policy and Governance (SPPG), the Department of Geography & Planning, the Innovation Policy Lab (IPL), the Global Cities Institute (GCI), the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI), and Urban Strategies Inc.


May 5, 2016
4:00 am - 5:30 pm


Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance


Campbell Conference Facility
Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, 1 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K7 Canada
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