Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Colleen Loomis

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Engaging citizens in decision making has long been understood as part of the democratic process, most commonly recognized as electoral votership. In recent decades, the benefits of providing citizens a variety of opportunities for community engagement (CE) have been documented. Currently, few studies have explored the role of municipal government in engagement processes, and how engagement should be contextualized within municipal policy structures and practices. The City of Kitchener, located in Ontario, Canada is in the process of formalizing engagement practices through policy. In partnering with the City of Kitchener, five interviews were conducted with four Canadian municipalities and one Region (N = 5), in order to gain a local perspective (City of Cambridge, Region of Waterloo), to explore municipalities with existing CE policies (City of Edmonton and City of Calgary), and to learn more about municipalities with innovative engagement methods (City of Guelph/Participatory Budgeting). The following research identified community engagement principles, strategies and policy structures that have been employed with proven success. The current study found two types of “best practices”: 1) theoretical mechanics of change which includes a formalized policy (values, principles, framework) and deliberative attention within the policy to diversity and empowerment; and 2) facilitation processes and resources of implementation that put theory into practice (e.g., community partnerships and champions). These findings inform the work of the City of Kitchener directly and have implications for a model of successful community engagement within municipal settings that articulates how to develop and deliver community engagement.

Convocation Year