Civic crowdfunding has evolved into an incredibly beneficial tool for enhancing public participating in municipal and community affairs across Europe and North America.For those who are unaware of what civic crowdfunding is or how it works, it is a process which allows individual citizens or civic minded groups to raise donations towards a specific community cause or project via the internet. These online fundraising campaigns typically involve setting fixed donations tiers paired with goals and in some cases rewards. Crowdfunding has grown from an online tool primarily used by artists and entrepreneurs to become a rewarding mechanism for humanitarian groups and municipal governments to fund projects such as bridges, parks, and even new transit routes.
This source of revenue for community projects has become even more important in an age when municipalities struggle to balance the competing needs of their budgets. As a result community projects often must be delayed in order to undertake higher priority obligations, leaving citizens feeling ignored or overlooked.
After learning about these conflicting issues, and hearing from many residents that they lack appropriate tools to help them advocate and promote community projects, I have introduced this bill which, if enacted, will lead to the establishment of a province wide online crowd sourcing platform for municipalities and community organizations to use to raise funds for community improvement projects.
By providing citizens with a method of actively engaging in the development of public projects, they are given the opportunity to take part in and see the direct benefits of community investment. I believe that a crowdfunding platform accessible to all municipalities in the province will enable local governments to secure finances and gauge interest in public projects, while simultaneously empowering citizens to be more involved in community affairs and development.
What makes the platform proposed in Bill 77 so unique compared to existing crowdfunding websites is that it is designed to not only raise funds, but to actively encourage public engagement in the community development process. Presently, there are no civic focused crowdfunding platforms operating within Ontario, and crowdfunding websites that do exist force campaigns to compete against a plethora of other non-civic products and services. Having civic projects listed on a single tailor made platform would not only promote the accessibility needed to enhance participatory forms of governance, but would also ensure that campaigns may be conducted in a manner which meets the specific needs of municipalities no matter their size.
By enabling participatory forms of governance such as civic crowdfunding we enhance consideration of public input, and allow for a more accountable and representative decision making process that can utilize collected data for more effective public planning.
You can view a full copy of Bill 77, "Kickstarting Public Participation Act" below