Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Edward Bennett

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Community development has been credited for numerous achievements since the turn of the century. Its premise and theory have been applied to a multitude of settings and cultures. Although the contexts are forever changing, the fundamental philosophy is still the same, to create in each individual a desire to work together for the overall good of the community. This thesis examines one community development project, its context, and process, and evaluates its effects using a qualitative approach. Russet Homes, a rehabilitative cooperative opened its doors to community development in 1985. Transformed from a typical townhouse project into a cooperative, Russet required community development to make it a more functioning community. The specific goals were to increase participation, problem solving and decision making skills, indigenous leadership, organization, and collectivity. Open ended interviews were conducted with thirty randomly selected residents. They were asked questions regarding their perceptions to the community development process. A content analysis was performed on the results of the questions which yielded extremely positive results. Primarily community development made Russet more of a community. There was more spirit and togetherness in activities and members stated their community was one big happy family. Community development increased problem solving and decision making skills. The members were able to successfully identify the cause of the problem and work together to generate possible solutions. They also mentioned their abilities to divide the work, assign tasks, and evaluate their decisions. Community development increased participation in committees, various activities, and at annual general members meetings. In addition leadership qualities never before seen in members (especially women) were evident. Community development increased organization at meetings and in the administrative wing of the community. Finally, the members developed a better attitude toward the community. They were more interested in the future of their co-op and the members desired success. The community development contract made much progress, however, work was still required. Power struggles between the Board and the committees was prevalent. The Board was unwilling to give up their decision making power to the smaller committees. Problem solving and the issue of burn out needs consideration. Specifically, more and more problems are raised thereby creating burn out among those in positions of responsibility. Finally, the community is not 100% satisfied with their leaders. There are autocratic leaders within the community ruled by despotism and an unwillingness to give up power. Housing co-ops and community development have similar philosophies, they both strive to achieve collectivity. Co-ops are a key force in our housing market today because not everyone can afford to own their own home. Co-ops can offer that ownership which in turn gives the individual a feeling of control over their environment, a sense of empowerment. Community development acts as a catalyst to ensure the success of housing co-ops. If more co-ops can flourish with the help of community development, then more families can (for the first time) experience control and ownership. Qualitative studies reveal the unique nature of each community and their experiences. The outcome of each community development project cannot be duplicated to other surroundings, however, the procedures and processes can be replicated. Central to Russet Cooperative Homes, they are still learning and growing, they are a young co-op. I strongly believe their ability to solve problems, and power disputes, and their need for strong leadership are priority items for future development work. With continued dedication and their strong will to succeed, Russet will achieve its goal.

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