With budget deliberations a week away, four Windsor neighbourhood renewal groups held a town hall to help break down key issues in the 2018 budget.

"We share a lot of common challenges so we find that it's more effective to come together and have a more united voice. That's why we're here tonight to communicate all those needs," explained Sarah Cipkar with the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative. 

Ford City Renewal, Our West End Neighbourhood Renewal as well as The Initiative: Glengarry to Marentette were also in attendance, along with councillors representing those areas.

"The number one thing is seeing residents that are this engaged and actively advocating for issues and the neighbourhood groups have been great in working with the residents to demystify the budget process," said Ward 3 councillor Rino Bortolin.

The meeting marked the second community organized event in relation to the budget. The first budget strategy session was held in January to identify key issues for each neighbourhood — six were singled out and up for discussion Wednesday night. 

"The reduction in fee for bulk item pick-up was a big one for residents who want to take that up," said Cipkar. "Now it will be $10 instead of $20. That's what council will be debating. So there's a lot of support from our resident groups for that."

Other topics included the alley maintenance program, enhancement to pathways, reduction of the cat voucher program and vacant building enforcement.

"We would like to see the cat voucher program continue. Also with bike lanes, we would like to talk about that and make sure everything is on track with each neighbourhood so we can connect the neighbourhoods," said Gillian Benoit Gonzalez, chair of Ford City Residents in Action.

Attendees also asked questions about how to sign up as a delegate during budget deliberations. 

"I love whenever there's a time to engage with our community leaders, so having the opportunity to have four city councillors here is very rare and it's a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of," said Keely Murdock, a west-end resident.

Budget talks are schedule to begin January 15.

Melissa Nakhavoly