A multicultural festival, a Chinese garden and alleys turned into "urban trails" are among the ideas that will be funded through a new inner-city process that allows citizens to vote on how tax dollars are spent.

Residents selected 21 ideas as part of the Ward 2 participatory budgeting process this weekend. Of the roughly 19,000 possible voters, 1,024 came out to cast ballots on how to spend $1 million in the ward.

Coun. Jason Farr was happy with the results and said all the projects will be good additions to the ward. His staff will start working with city staff this week on making the projects happen.

"We have to now get into the details of the implementation," he said. "Now we dot the I's, cross the t's and make these things happen."   The turnout reflects about five per cent of eligible Ward 2 residents. But that's not bad, said Norman Kearney, president and CEO of Participatory Budgeting Hamilton.

Porto Alegre, Brazil was the first city to introduce participatory budgeting, he said. And the first time, it failed to garner even a thousand votes.

"Today, however, it is a model of participatory budgeting," he said.

Farr budgeted about $50,000 for this process, although he anticipates the final total will be less than that. More than 100 volunteers assisted.

Among the ideas approved:

  • No smoking signs in city parks ($2,000)
  • Pilot project for a Chinese garden ($10,000)
  • Beautification of James North, including banners and flower baskets ($10,000)
  • An outdoor community oven at Beasley Park ($15,000)
  • A grant for a multicultural festival ($20,000)
  • Ten solar-powered trash compactors that alert city staff when they need to be emptied ($44,000) 35 public benches ($50,000)
  • Reserve fund for a multicultural community centre ($112,000)
  • A pilot project for a network of "Urban Trail" alleys, where two local alleys will be transformed into bright, paved trails ($230,000)

Ward 1 held its first participatory budget vote earlier this year. Residents are asked to submit their ideas for how $1.5 million could be spent at forward1.ca.