Lille: The people of Lille have chosen to make Avenue du Peuple-Belge a large park
And in the middle will not flow a river. Opened on May 2, the popular consultation on the requalification of Avenue du Peuple-Belge, in Lille, ended on Monday. An unprecedented form of participatory democracy, based on electoral lists, nevertheless mobilized nearly 15,000 Lille residents in one month. The participants in the ballot had to choose between four scenarios, from the transformation of the avenue into a park to its complete restoration of water. Here’s what voters chose, and what it means.
“It’s even less than the difference of 227 votes for the municipal elections”, launched ironically Martine Aubry when she announced the scores of the consultation on the Belgian People. Because few voices separated each of the different scenarios, we deduce that the 14,596 participants were very divided. However, there could only be one winner, and it was project no. 1, the large park, which came out on top with 27% of the votes, ahead of the partial replenishment of water (26%) and the total replenishment (26%). It is also the least expensive project, 25 million, and the one whose construction will last the shortest. “To tell the truth, I am disappointed”, recognizes the mayor of Lille who was in favor of a return from the Deûle to the start of the avenue.
“This choice of a park illustrates a concrete and immediate need”
With a participation rate of 11% of Lille residents registered on the electoral lists, the mayor of Lille welcomes the “great success” of the consultation. Logically, it was the inhabitants of the districts most directly concerned, namely Old Lille and the city center, who voted the most widely. On the other hand, most working-class districts, such as Moulins or Faubourg de Béthune, were not very mobilized. What also emerges from this consultation is that the financial side was not a decisive criterion: “this choice of a park illustrates a concrete and immediate need to put greenery in a neighborhood where there is not enough”, analyzes Martine Aubry. She adds that this scenario “is not irreversible” as that of the impoundment would have been. “Nothing says that the next mayor, in 10 years, will not re-consult the people of Lille on this subject”, she launches.
The vote of Lille residents, therefore, determined an orientation, “it remains to be seen now what we are going to put in this 57,000 m2 park”, continues Sébastien Duhem, the deputy mayor who is carrying the project. Developments, cycle paths, games, reduction of car traffic, vegetable garden, fountain… The city will once again turn to its inhabitants to collect their complaints. “Depending on the responses, we will employ landscape and urban planning professionals so that they can make proposals to us”. Will they be subject to a new vote? Maybe. Be that as it may, don’t plan on walking around this park in the short term, as delivery of the work is estimated for 2026.
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