“This is wrong and we will support you”: The (restricted) role of resident-led neighbourhood-level planning teams in residential displacement


  • Mela Pothier Department of Geography and Planning, The University of Toronto
  • Kayonne Christy Department of Sociology, The University of British Columbia
  • C. A. Klassen Department of Geography and Planning, The University of Toronto
  • Sarah Wakefield Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto


Resident-led planning teams, Hamilton, Ontario, Gentrification, Displacement, Social inequalities


Using qualitative data collected from 2013-2017, this paper investigates how resident-led planning teams working within Hamilton, Ontario’s Neighbourhood Action Strategy (NAS) responded to gentrification and displacement. Highlighting case studies of three neighbourhoods, our findings reveal that resident groups can act as both sites of support for gentrification and sites of resistance to residential displacement. Our findings complicate the common narrative that posits residents as powerless in the face of gentrification, showing how residents resisted coercive displacement
efforts. The case studies expose concrete strategies used by residents: engaging directly with City Hall and developers, countering exclusionary neighbourhood attitudes through community dialogue, and supporting tenant organizing. However, findings also highlight how differences among residents (particularly class, race, and length and type of tenure) shaped both the nature and effectiveness of resistance in this municipally-supported initiative, and identify the need for more attention to preventing displacement within formal planning processes.