What Is Community Benefits Agreement, Or CBA?

A CBA is a proven way to provide jobs and other benefits for community residents. In many countries, communities demand CBAs when new Industrial-Commercial-Institutional developments occur or when public sector projects are built.

Based on practices in the US and elsewhere, a Community Benefit Agreement CBA is defined by:

  1. A signed, legally enforceable agreement, having clear monitoring and enforcement mechanisms;
  2. Specificity to a particular construction project (rather than an institutional policy);
  3. An inclusive, collaborative and accountable process of leveraging a development project towards achieving a broader range of policy objectives such as equity, poverty reduction, environmental sustainability and local economic development;
  4. A CBA details in writing the specific benefits that a community will receive from a given development project.  These benefits might include equitable hiring practices, funding for training, neighbourhood improvements, support for social enterprises, etc.;
  5. There is substantial community involvement in all phases of the CBA.

(source:  Julian Goss, Community Benefits Agreements: Definitions, Values, and Legal Enforcement, Journal of Affordable Housing, Vol 17:1-2, Fall 2007/Winter 2008.  Also see: Good Jobs First and the California Partnership for Working Families, “Community Benefits Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable,” 2005.)  

The TCBN defines community involvement as going beyond public consultation and into direct engagement on a development project. We expect that an “involved” community group will be recognized by the project’s principle parties (the public sponsor or developer and the contractor) as a partner with roles in the design, implementation, performance monitoring, enforcement and overall evaluation for a development project on matters relating to the community benefits that have been mutually agreed as project objectives.