Building Community Wealth: What Is Possible in Small & Mid-Sized Communities

A new report called Building Community Wealth: What is possible in rural, small and mid-sized communities, from the Windsor-Essex Community Benefits Coalition and United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County delves into community wealth building strategies and uses examples from small and mid-sized cities to illustrate how communities can recover, revitalize, and reconnect by building a more inclusive local economy. Large-scale community benefit projects like the Gordie Howe International Bridge have revealed an opportunity to scale these kinds of benefits down, right-sizing them to bring prosperity to any community, regardless of size.

“Benefits balance burden.”
Community Benefits and wealth building
approaches are designed to lift the human and
local impact of hosting a major development. It
helps bring balance. Often the people closest
to the impact have the best ideas about
meeting the needs of the impacted community.

Mike Cardinal – Chair, Windsor-Essex
Community Benefits Coalition

By including elements of community benefit processes, communities across the country have created local employment and training opportunities, small business supports, affordable housing, better community amenities, and much more. By detailing these processes and providing examples, this report will offer inspiration in smaller communities, providing them with ideas and opportunities for ‘building back better’ through equitable and inclusive development in their own backyards.

The report gives a breakdown of community benefit models in Canada and across the world, along with conditions that support this kind of community wealth building at the federal and provincial level. Best practices in community benefits are explored, and examples of smaller scale projects that have implemented community benefit strategies such as a workforce development project in Markham, surplus land use in Windsor’s Ford City, and a legacy fund in Belle River show how this work is already being taken on locally.

“The Community Benefits Coalition sees Community Benefits Agreements as a means to ensure that all members of a community share in the benefit of infrastructure and development projects. While mega-infrastructure projects in large cities may get the headlines, including Community Benefits components in small and mid-sized communities ensures that residents in those communities benefit from investment in their community through skills and workforce development programs and development of amenities for the community, where municipal resources are often stretched thin.”

Daniel Ableser – Vice Chair, Windsor-Essex Community Benefits Coalition


                            Report Authors: Frazier Fathers and Sarah Morris                                 with Brady Holek and Anam Khan

Report Designed by: Jessica Ward, ELEV8 Web Studio

The authors would like to thank all of the partners
and community members who contributed and
provided feedback on this report. If you wish to
reach out or get more information please contact the
Windsor Essex Community Benefits Coalition
at wecommbencoalition@gmail.com