The Role of Neighbourhood Groups in Municipal Governance: A Case Study of Abandoned Buildings in Windsor


  • John Sutcliffe University of Windsor
  • Sarah Cipkar Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto


Neighbourhood groups, Residents participation and municipal decision-making, Windsor (Ontario)


Neighbourhood groups are a feature of municipal politics across Canada yet are understudied in mid-sized cities. They are often portrayed as a mechanism for allowing residents to be more engaged in decisions affecting their neighbourhoods and to improve municipal decisions by incorporating the lived experience of municipal residents into that decision-making. It is therefore important to examine the formation of neighbourhood groups, whether they influence municipal decisions, and whether they are representative of their neighbourhoods. This article examines
these issues through a case study of four neighbourhood groups in Windsor, Ontario. Using interview data as well as analysis of primary and secondary sources, it examines the top-down and grassroots forces that shaped these groups and their involvement in council decisions relating to vacant buildings in the city. The conclusions reached are that there were clear limits to the influence that they exerted on municipal decision-making. These groups did represent the interests of their communities and, when provided with external resources to develop their institutional capacity, they did help promote municipal policy change. This was, however, incremental change at the margins of the policy process.