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Participatory budgeting in north america: the case of guelph, canada

Elizabeth Pinnington (University of Toronto)
Josh Lerner (Department of Politics)
Daniel Schugurensky (University of Toronto)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 1 March 2009



In 1989, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre initiated a model of budget participation known internationally as "participatory budgeting." In this process of diagnosis, deliberation and decision-making, city residents directly decide how to allocate part of a public budget, typically at the level of municipal government. During the past two decades, hundreds of cities in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Africa have adapted this model of participatory democracy to their own contexts. In this article, we explore one of the first Canadian experiments of participatory budgeting. In Guelph, Ontario, a civil society organization called the Neighbourhood Support Coalition uses participatory budgeting to allocate of public and private funds. We discuss the Canadian context for this experiment, as well as the history and evolution of participatory budgeting in Guelph. Based on four years of interviews, ethnographic observation, and primary and secondary literature, we identify several lessons learned through the Guelph process, as well as the conditions that have enabled its development and posed challenges for its success.


Pinnington, E., Lerner, J. and Schugurensky, D. (2009), "Participatory budgeting in north america: the case of guelph, canada", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 454-483.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009 by PrAcademics Press

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