Better Districts is a collaborative project between citizens and administrative authorities for prioritizing and distributing funds for new projects on a smaller scale and projects of maintenance in the districts of Reykjavík. The project is intended to enhance public participation in deliberative democracy and democratic decision making and is based on experience from previous years.
Better Districts has been running since 2012 in cooperation with the Citizens Foundation which runs the website Better Reykjavík for the City. The project has resulted in hundreds of minor projects that have been executed by the municipality. These projects have started as ideas which individual citizens or groups have submitted online and then voted on in online public elections. The project was awarded as a Nordic Best Practice Challenge in the category Public Communication at the Conference of the Nordic Capitals which took place in Reykjavík on May 7-8, 2015.
What kind of ideology is Better Districts based on?
The project is based on ideas on deliberative democracy, participatory democracy, participatory budgeting – promoting public participation in democratic discussions and decision making beyond what is normally seen in a representative democracy. The project is a further developed edition of Better Districts 2012. Previous years’ experience is used as a foundation as well as expert services and information from other cities all over the world that have experience with participatory budgeting.
The budget and district distribution
The budget assumes a total of 300 million ISK, which is divided between districts in accordance with a fixed sum on one hand and the number of residents on the other.
What kind of ideas?
The projects in question are projects to enhance the quality of the residents’ surroundings and increase possibilities for recreation and social gatherings, to improve equipment or opportunities for games and leisure, to encourage cycling or improve conditions for pedestrians and public transportation users.
How much can a project cost?
The projects can be small or large but the cost cannot exceed the amount each district has been assigned. A team of experts from the City of Reykjavík‘s Environment and Planning Division estimates if projects are practicable and prepares and informs of a cost estimate.
When could ideas be submitted?
Ideas in this cycle could be posted from October 8th to November 7th 2014. The cycle started in October 2014 and will run throughout the year 2015. Citizens can participate in and follow the project on the consultation forum www.betrireykjavik.is , on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Betri.Reykjavik or through their district service centres or district committees.