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When do municipalities engage their communities, and why?

Some of the most common reasons are rather uninspiring; because of legal or other requirements; because it is expected; because it seems like the right thing to do.

Are these reasons really good enough? Perhaps the better reasons is because community engagement can help government to do its job and because it leads to better decision making.

Municipalities are not self-sufficient machines delivering services to passive consumers. Expectations have changed, and the challenges that face municipalities are more complex and require more collaboration than ever before.

No one approach is necessarily better than the other; rather, the approach needs to suite the purpose and individuals involved. The goal is to facilitate genuine opportunities for shared learning and dialogue, and find new ways to work together on common goals.

Embracing engagement as a way of working creates better relationships between municipalities and citizens, and increases trust. It breaks down the formality of traditional engagement practices, and focus on working together. Ultimately, it leads to greater citizen involvement, better decision making and an increased sense of civic pride.

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