What We Do > Our Expertise > Engagement



One of our core values is to engage and listen, bringing voices and disciplines together to address challenges, seize opportunities and build consensus for positive change. Urban Strategies has a respected track record of designing community engagement strategies and expertise working with diverse stakeholder groups, including community housing tenants, local ratepayer organizations, residents at large, and municipalities. We often design programs specifically for youth or newcomers.

Our public engagement strategies clearly articulate the following:

  • Project Context – what are we engaging on?
  • The Purpose of Engagement – why are we engaging?
  • Identifying Key Audiences – who are we engaging?
  • Identifying the Right Tools and Techniques – how are we engaging?
  • Fitting in to the overall planning process – when are we engaging?

We have been recognized with numerous industry awards for this aspect of our work. Many of our team members are trained in IAP2 and dignity-infused approaches to engagement. We believe in placing residents at the forefront of a project, as those who have both a personal stake in the exercise, and knowledge and lived experience of living on the site – in the reimagining of their home. We believe that equitable and meaningful engagement is as critical as any technical input to ensuring a successful comprehensive planning process. Working through an equity lens, we aim to design and facilitate engagement processes that centre and elevate the most vulnerable populations, particularly those that may face the biggest impacts from the project, creating a process that will work well for the broadest audience possible. Removing barriers to participation and focusing on accessibility of materials, events and outcomes provides an opportunity to include voices that are often left out of traditional planning and engagement processes.


Urban Strategies has a reputation for our ability to break down and communicate complex or technical ideas, bridging gaps between engineers, planners and other agencies, while supporting informed debate by building stakeholder knowledge. This enables us to tap into core concerns and articulate a truly community-based vision for projects.

We are adept at facilitating engaging hands-on events:

  • open houses and town halls
  • design charrettes
  • lecture series
  • focus groups
  • live foam modeling
  • youth engagement programming such as curriculum materials
  • speaker’s corner
  • pop-ups, kiosks, project storefronts
  • street engagement
  • mobile, participatory workshops
  • live graphic recording
  • simultaneous translation
  • collaboration with specialists in Indigenous engagement

In addition to in-person engagement, we utilize a range of remote tools and strategies:

  • interactive virtual open houses
  • project branding and identity
  • websites, including multilingual content
  • online interactive mapping
  • online surveys, polls and collaborative design
  • project newsletters (print and email)
  • videos (explainers, fly-throughs, documentaries)
  • social media campaigns
  • telephone town halls
  • “kitchen table” workbooks
  • AODA compliant (accessible) reports and documents

Urban Strategies’ professional graphic design team works with clients and communications departments to develop logos and brand identities for projects. Branding helps to create immediate recognition and lends consistency and professionalism to all project communications materials, including panels, newsletters, briefing notes, and online content.

We work with our clients to determine the best combination of techniques based on specific project needs and target audiences. Some events follow a carefully organized format focused on specific outcomes; others are more open-ended to foster creativity and engagement. We excel at leading and managing discussions with multiple stakeholders – to understand perspectives, define shared principles, and move stakeholders towards consensus.

High quality graphic elements are an important aspect of our projects and are an incomparable way to “show, don’t tell” the key elements of the concept in its larger urban context. Our graphic design team is adept at creating iconic, easy to understand project materials for print, web, and video, and are well-versed in meeting Accessibility requirements and guidelines. Urban Strategies has a full time team of model makers that are adept at crafting the critical third dimension of developments and master plans.

We use various methods to discover the opportunities and constraints in urban environments. This enables us to use evidence-based methodologies to contextualize, assess, and communicate the performances and implications of change. We develop and apply spatial databases, GIS technology, and visualization to manage information and to facilitate a collaborative approach among all project participants.

Alexandra Park aerial rendering

Alexandra Park Revitalization

2009 – 2021

Urban Strategies worked with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) to develop and implement a revitalization plan for the Alexandra Park neighbourhood. This is an 18-acre social housing development built in the 1970s in Downtown Toronto.

Our public engagement events are not only about communication, they are about collaboration. We engage communities from the very beginning and throughout the full program. The objective is to ensure that by the end of the process the plan belongs to the community.