Guiding principles for community engagement

  1. Inclusive: The City designs engagement processes that allow all community members a reasonable opportunity to contribute and to develop a balanced perspective. The City builds relationships with stakeholders by using a range of activities to engage diverse participants.
  2. Early Involvement: The City involves the community as early as possible in the engagement process so stakeholders have time to learn about the issue and actively participate.
  3. Access to Decision Making: The City designs processes that will give participants the opportunity to influence decisions.
  4. Coordinated Approach: The City coordinates community engagement activities to use community and City resources effectively.
  5. Transparent and Accountable: The City designs engagement processes so that stakeholders understand their role, the level of engagement and the outcome of the process.
  6. Open and Timely Communication: The City provides information that is timely, accurate, objective, easily understood, accessible, and balanced.
  7. Mutual Trust and Respect: The City engages the community in an equitable and respectful way that fosters understanding between diverse views, values, and interests.
  8. Evaluation and Continuous Improvement: The City evaluates engagement activities to ensure engagement processes are effective.

Community Engagement Team responsibilities

The Community Engagement team is responsible for implementing the Community Engagement Framework across the Corporation of the City of Guelph. The role of the Community Engagement team is to:

  • Participate in an initial project assessment with the project team and the Corporate Communications team
  • Work with you to develop or review appropriate Community Engagement Plans
  • Work with you to ensure your Request For Proposal / Tenders include effective community engagement activities
  • If you’re working with a consultant, liaise with the consultant to provide oversight of community engagement work
  • Work with you to ensure the Corporation has effective systems to monitor, record, coordinate and evaluate its community engagement activities
  • Evaluate and update the Community Engagement Framework based on clear performance measures, employee feedback and emerging practices, on an annual basis
  • Provide Council and employees with annual performance reports regarding the success of the Community Engagement Framework and Policy
  • Work with Human Resources and City employees to develop and implement appropriate community engagement training and supports for City employees
  • Work with Corporate Communications to provide timely information to residents and other stakeholders about the Community Engagement Framework and Policy

City Employee responsibilities

City employees who are responsible for the design and implementation of community engagement processes will:

  • Pursue community engagement with the belief that involving the community leads to better decisions
  • Ensure that community engagement activities comply with the Community Engagement Framework and Policy, its processes, worksheets and tools
  • Develop project charters or project plans that provide adequate timelines and resources for community engagement
  • Notify the Community Engagement team of any planned community engagement activities
  • Design engagement processes that reflect the promise made to stakeholders according to the level of engagement
  • Design engagement processes that reach out to vulnerable populations
  • Ensure all community members who want to be involved are included
  • Ensure all communication is clearly presented, balanced and understandable to the target audience
  • Ensure that participants are aware of their responsibilities in the engagement process and support participants to fulfill those responsibilities
  • Foster long-term relationships based on mutual trust and respect
  • Ensure the project report accurately reflects all the feedback received
  • Ensure decisions and recommendations acknowledge the needs, values and desires of the community
  • Ensure consultants or external organizations undertaking community engagement activities on behalf of a City department comply with Community Engagement Framework and Policy

Participant responsibilities

Successful community engagement processes require respectful and constructive contributions of participants. Participants are responsible to:

  • Pursue community engagement with the belief that community involvement leads to better decisions
  • Focus on the decision to be made or the question to be answered
  • Recognize the City must consider the needs of the whole community
  • Strive to reach sustainable solutions
  • Request alternative ways of participating if required
  • Listen to understand the views of others
  • Identify concerns and issues early in the process
  • Participate openly, honestly and constructively, offering ideas, suggestions, alternatives
  • Work in the process in a transparent, respectful and cooperative manner
  • Stay abreast of the project, engagement activities and related issues
  • Provide input and feedback within project timelines
  • Encourage others to become engaged, and offer input to the project and engagement activities
  • Provide contact information as requested, to receive updates about the community engagement process

Council responsibilities

As key leaders within the City, the support of City Council is important for successful community engagement. Council is asked to:

  • Review information gathered through community engagement processes to inform Council decisions
  • Consider appropriate project timelines and resources needed for community engagement

Thanks to the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph for the following reports:

Report – Community Engagement Policies in National and International Municipalities

Report – Community Engagement Policies in Australia, the United Kingdon and the United States of America

Report – Community Engagement Policies in National Cities

Report – Community Engagement Policies in Comparator Municipalities