About the how-tos

This beta toolkit was co-developed with planners at the City of Toronto. Throughout the spring of 2021 we conducted co-design workshops and surveys to identify key stress points which planners wanted more tools to address. These stress points were then consolidated into a series of five how-tos. These how-tos form the primary organizational criteria for this online toolkit. These how-tos are not exclusive to any type or stage of a planning process - they also have several overlaps. 

The how-tos are:

How to set goals and measure impact
How to reach a more diverse public
How to identify paths to community ownership and power sharing
How to lead an equitable meeting
How to communicate with communities

These how-tos were also informed by immersive research done in the previous two years with City of Toronto Planning staff, engagement practitioners, and community organizations.

The how-tos presented on Making Space enables practitioners to start anywhere (not have to move through a linear process), access specific and applicable tools that help them begin to interrupt conventional processes, and build on the good work that is already out there by adding some specificity and context on how to use some of these best practices. 

This toolkit is meant to introduce accessible entry points for Planning staff, and does not provide systems-level interventions to overhaul public consultation. It supports staff to work within situations of limited time and resources to still be able to deepen the impact and outcomes of consultations they deliver. Note that this version is a 'sacrificial prototype', meant to beta-test both design and content.


Be relational

The work of engagement is about dialogue and meaningful co-creation, which can only happen when trust has been built. In every interaction with community, prioritize relationship-building by understanding and learning about the people you’re speaking to.

Be transparent

Wherever possible, be clear and honest about the process, what is possible to influence, and what is more difficult to influence. Work together with communities to build a shared language that everyone understands, so that the processes and outcomes are clear to all. 

Flip orthodoxies

Where possible, identify barriers to meaningful engagement that exist only because they’re “business as usual” defaults, not rules. These conventions can be as modest as changing elements of the setup of a room, to challenging the notion that more people in a room means a more successful engagement.

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