Agreement Benefits

In many cases, where real estate developers have obtained a zone permit or grants in the absence of a Community agreement, they have accepted the costs of the CBA in order to avoid or reduce the risk of the government delaying or rejecting their project (Baxamusa 2008; Parks and Warren 2009; Salkin and Lavine 2008). As community coalitions succeed in maximizing developer concessions, CBAs represent the price developers are willing to pay to avoid risk. To benefit community investments, CBAs are able to extract this award from private developers if city governments do not. Service agreements give the customer less concern on the subject – a document determines the schedule and details of the service. In this way, the maintenance works seamlessly, as there is no need to fill in information about the order each time. Fortunately, the shape and function of CBAs act as the distinctive products of a certain matrix of historical conditions, but CBA processes also act transformatively on this matrix. Organizing a community coalition leads not only to a CBA, but also to the concentration of previously unassembled power, from which additional efforts can be launched (Parks and Warren 2009). The unified voices of many community members and leaders of different organizations have proven powerful enough to bring developers to the negotiating table. Community coalitions have used the power of their unified voices to secure millions of benefits for their communities. They have carved a space in the debate on urban development and in practice for the interests of their communities. By accepting the CBAs as a victory, but not as a conciliation, local coalitions can continue to devote their power to campaigns in the ongoing struggle to transform the dynamics of urban development. The agreements on Community benefits were born in the form and function of the result of a number of historical circumstances.

Understanding this story provides an important corrective to considering CBAs as an ahistorical phenomenon or a neutral development tool. The discovery of CBA in this historical context highlights the logic behind the form they took and the functions they performed. This understanding, in turn, highlights the consequences of the dominant urban political economy and suggests how CBAs can contribute to the restoration of urban power dynamics and modes of governance. While local governments were working on their responsibility to design models of land development and use, the community benefits movement emerged to challenge conventional thinking and offer a broader vision. In the context of smart growth and environmental justice, the community benefits movement aims to ensure that the main objective of economic development is to make measurable and sustainable improvements in the lives of the people concerned, particularly in income-income neighbourhoods and communities of colour.