An evaluation of public participation theory and practice: The Waterloo Region case
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At the end of the 1960s, public participation became an important issue where citizens and academics questioned the influence of power in the decision-making process. Since that time, the theory of public participation has raised many questions, but the issue of power remains the main challenge in the practice of public participation. The thesis collects facts and data from experience, insights, and ideas of practitioners from Waterloo Region, and academics in the planning field across Canada. The intention of the research is to identify the theory-practice gaps by comparing and contrasting the data from the three main sources. A literature review along with online surveys was undertaken to examine the theory of public participation. Waterloo Region is the case study community where semi-structured interviews were conducted with the key informants for identifying the main challenges of applying theory to practice. The findings suggest that practitioners and academics need to collaborate to better understand the challenges and difficulties associated with transition of theory into practice. Furthermore, this thesis provides recommendations and potential solutions to closing this theory-practice gap.