The City of Canada Bay council convened a Policy Panel of 24 randomly selected citizens to make recommendations about how the council could make the most of community facilities. The policy panel followed the success of Canada Bay's first participatory budgeting in 2012.
Problems and Purpose
The policy panel of 24 citizens from Canada Bay were asked to deliberate on a narrow topic: the lease of council-owned facilities to not for profit organisations. The panel were asked to make policy recommendations about how the council can get the most from its community facilities, what rental subsidies should be offered and who should get them.
The panel's final recommendations were to be received by the council directly, with the final decision sitting with council.
Background History and Context
The policy panel came into being following the successful Canada Bay Citizens' Panel in 2012. The Citizens' Panel was Canada Bay's first exercise in participatory budgeting. The 2012 panel deliberated on the full range and level of council services. As 12 of the panel's final recommendations related to the subsidised use of council facilities, the policy panel was conceived as a follow-up process to focus on this narrower area and guide City of Canada Bay council on which direction to take.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The policy panel was convened and funded by the City of Canada Bay council. It was organised and facilitated by newDemocracy Foundation, an independent, non-profit organisation who also worked with the council on the 2012 panel.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
newDemocracy Foundation recruited the final 24 panellists in a random selection process drawn from an initial sample of 4,000 Canada Bay residents. Panellists were selected to provide a descriptive representative sample of the community.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Due to the narrow topic under consideration, the policy panel took the approach of meeting numerous times over six months, but for shorter time periods. Panellists met once a month for six months from March to August 2014. A single independent facilitator was used to ensure equality of voice during the deliberations.
Decisions were made by supermajoritarian voting (80%+1), following a process of deliberation. All recommendations in the final report by the panel were arrived at through this method.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The policy panel submitted their final report comprising recommendations on fair use of council facilities on August 25th 2014. The report details eight recommendations along with a subsidy scale and eligibility criteria for organisations renting council-owned facilities.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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