A project has recently gained attention on social media, hoping to create a dialogue about vacant buildings and empty lots in Windsor.
Showcasing images of properties in various states, from well-maintained to blighted, the Facebook group ‘Windsor’s Vacant Buildings and Lots’ was created by resident, Kathryn Tisdale, who hopes to make the community more mindful of the connection between continued urban sprawl and the increasing list of city vacancies.
“I believe that we’re in denial as a community about how many holes we have in our city right now,” said Tisdale.
“All of a sudden, we seem to be starting to talk about more expansion. There’s the proposed mega hospital, there’s the big box development on very fragile, very important land near Ojibway, and I think we need to look at the consequence of expanding before we do any more of it.”
The group has a call-out for photos of as many properties as their volunteers are able to find. They aren’t asking for professional photos, just evidence and information of core and suburban vacancies, whether they be commercial, residential, or industrial.
“Our population isn’t growing, and it hasn’t grown for years, but the boundaries keep getting pushed out. Even though we already have too many buildings we’re still trying to put up more...” states a post on the group’s Facebook page.
“At the same time, we take on the never-ending costs of all the usual city services – roads, sewers, water, buses. The vacant buildings act as dead zones, sucking all the economic energy and human vitality out of the street they are on. The longer they sit empty, the more blighted they become.”
Tisdale believes that we need to be more aware of the consequences of expanding, before further growth is allowed to happen. She’s concerned about the economic dampening effects of the holes, mixed with the increased cost of infrastructure of the sewers, roads and amenities that are necessary to serve the new areas.
“I just want to get the discussion going. To be aware of a problem is the first step in solving it. We keep talking about the expansions, if we don’t do something to change it, it’s going to lead to a city shaped like a doughnut.”