Paris awaits result of referendum on how to spend €20m of city budget

in The Guardian: “Given €20m (£15.5m) of taxpayers’ money, what would Parisians do to improve their city? The final answer is expected after voting closes on Wednesday in the French capital’s first “participatory budget”.
City-dwellers of all ages and nationalities were given the chance to choose from 15 projects, including walls of vegetation, pop-up swimming pools and mini “learning gardens” in schools. The most popular will be included in the 2015 city’s spending plan. Work will begin on them in January.
The city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said allowing people to decide the destination of 5% of the city hall investment budget every year from now until 2020 was “handing the keys of the budget to the citizens”.
Parisians were given a week to vote, either online or at mairies (council buildings) in each of the city’s 20 arrondissements.
As voting ended on Wednesday, the most popular choices reflected concern with the environment and the shortage of green spaces in the city centre, and a desire to breathe new life into its gloomiest corners.
A €2m project to cover at least 40 “blind” walls with plants to cheer up local areas and create a “microclimate and biodiversity” had received the most votes.
The second most popular was a €1.5m scheme to use derelict and abandoned areas around and under the périphérique – the city’s ring road – for concerts, exhibitions, film projections and other community events.
Third was a €1m project to introduce “learning gardens” in all infant and primary schools….
There are similar “participative democracy” schemes in hundreds of cities, including Toronto, Canada, and Porto Alegre in Brazil, which was the first to introduce it, in 1989, as well as in smaller communes in France. However, nowhere else is believed to have allotted such a significant sum of public money.
Hidalgo said the idea was “a new tool for citizens to participate allowing all Parisians to propose and choose projects that will make the Paris of tomorrow. They can have a real effect on local life. I see it as a major democratic innovation.”