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Liveability and Citizen Engagement, Two Sides of the Same Coin

Liveability and Citizen Engagement, Two Sides of the Same Coin

12/3/18

The term ‘Liveability’ gets thrown around a lot and has a seeming myriad of classifications. Generally speaking, the concept covers elements of the home, neighborhoods, and municipal spaces that impact safety, economic opportunities, health, convenience, mobility, and leisure time within a city or municipality.  

Given this definition, it is understandable that the term gets used a lot, it speaks to something that is deeply important to us all, the health of the places where we live, work, and raise families. Essentially, the condition of our local community.  

Liveability is a thing that every city and municipality wants. It is a significant characteristic for attracting talent, new business development, investors, entrepreneurs, students, families, etc. This attractiveness makes a positive contribution to a city’s economic growth and resilience. If a city or municipality can improve liveability, then they have one of the essential ingredients for growth.

This, however, presents a real challenge for cities and municipalities the world over. Improving liveability is immensely difficult, it is not simply done overnight. Designing and implementing strategies that serve all the various stakeholders can be a nightmare for any city government. Different stakeholders want different things, conflicting interests, conflicting visions, conflicting approaches are all issues that must be considered. Simply determining what the elements of liveability are and how they should be measured is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that municipal governments must contend with.

Fortunately, these challenges can be traversed and managed by way of utilizing and implementing robust and diverse citizen engagement practices and tools. Which allows any local government to inform, consult, involve, listen and respond to the various stakeholders in the community. When robust dialog is established with citizens there is the potential for trust between the local authority and the community. This trust and dialog allows local authorities to circumvent design challenges and streamline implementation of liveability improvement policy. In fact, citizen engagement itself can be considered an element in the liveability of a city or municipality.

Leveraging citizen engagement practices and tools is a serious way to mitigate and respond to stakeholder skepticism and empower policymakers and residents together. The more inclusive the system for citizens to be apart of the decision-making processes is a sure way to expand the liveability and attractiveness of any community. When residents feel socially connected and included a more resilient and liveable environment is sure to follow. 

For some great resources and ideas tune into Bang The Table's Podcast to hear from engagement professionals as they journey through planning, implementation and measurement of community engagement projects around the world. Also take a look at the post 3 Way That Citizen Engagement Drives Development for a closer look at why cities do engagement.

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