CIVIS: Urban Governance and Citizenship


The goals of this research cluster are to bring together scholars and members of the community who are actively engaged in the consideration of urban governance in Canada. There are several distinct major research projects at York, on various aspects of governance in cities and city regions, and several community-based research initiatives are also underway. This cluster will support conversations among them in informal and formal ways, provide a platform for organizing events that bring in other scholars and experts to share their knowledge and insights, as well as support the development of future research and community projects, including external funding applications. Our first step will be to develop and maintain a website to showcase on-going research, and use this as a basis for sharing knowledge and inviting scholarly and community engagement. One of the key goals will be to use our collaborations to directly inform policy initiatives with the Federation of Canadian municipalities and with individual city and regional councils.



The definition of urban governance, and its relationship to local, regional, provincial and federal governance in Canada, is in flux. The unilateral reduction of the number of councillors on Toronto’s City Council in 2018 was more than a local issue. Immediately, there were statements of concern from mayors across the country, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has sought to advance a stronger role for and greater independence for city government. Jurisdiction over land-use in cities and city regions is complex, with ownership by private citizens, corporations, and all levels of government.

Who will make the decisions, and how those decisions are made, are equally important questions. Urban citizenship concerns the fundamental question of who constitutes the city. Processes of urban governance reform are underway in Canada, but they need to be shaped by inclusive consultation, and specific structural proposals need to be informed by practices of public consultation. For example, considerations of Indigenous governance, as well as the participation of non-citizen residents, racialized communities, the queer community, and the disabled community, must all be part of the conversation. This cluster will offer frameworks for grounded, human-centred policymaking on these questions of urban governance.



*For those interested in learning more about CIVIS please reach out to the project leads above.