Good 'grassroots' government, a millennium model for Winnipeg

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Knudsen, Kathryn M.
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Local government is often cited as the 'level of government closest to the people'. This reference comes from the recognition that the functions provided by local government, for the most part, have an impact on the every day lives of citizens. Given the fiscal constraint being experienced in all levels of government today, and the need to rethink what, how, and if services are to be maintained, it is logical to assume that citizens would be interested in the decision-making processes that are occurring. Yet, the level of political literacy appears to be on the decline, and citizen apathy towards local government continues. Indeed, this apathy is often attributed to a lack of citizen knowledge and awareness of the issues, which concern local government. In its final form, this apathy translates into an attitude of mistrust and dissatisfaction with how our communities are governed. This thesis presents an opportunity to examine the concept of public participation, as well as the historic and current mechanisms for citizen involvement in local government. It explores the concept of the 'neighbourhood' as an organizational framework for citizen engagement and decision-making in local governance structures. This thesis develops an innovative neighbourhood model for local government that seeks to re-engage the citizen; to provide authority and decision-making power at the level of the neighbourhood; to strengthen community capacity; and to renew citizen faith and trust in government.