There are particular Canadian neighbourhoods which exude extra character and charm. From the quaint main street of Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, to the inviting West Point Grey in Vancouver, certain communities have created charming character-filled neighbourhoods. Some neighbourhoods are immediately recognizable as being alive and welcoming. If you know where to look, you will find those rare amazing places where neighbours know each other, where kids play together in the park, and where people have worked hard to create something special. These are the desirable neighbourhoods, not because of the size of the homes, but because of the warmth and care of the community.
I was recently given a tour of the Highlands neighbourhood in Edmonton and was surprised at how deeply people cherish each other and their community. The historical society has put plaques on most houses and people take pride in their history, even offering pamphlets for visitors to walk and to learn some of the quirky stories from the past. Neighbours host gatherings and people sit out on their front porches to chat with each other – I saw it first hand.
Recently in Victoria, BC, I spent time walking through the neighbourhood of Fairfield. This historical neighbourhood boasts seaside views and lush gardens. However there was one small feature that really captured the sense of care that people have worked to bring to their neighbourhood. As I crossed a street, embedded into the curb, was a tile word, “Wellington.” It was the name of the street in pretty blue ceramic.
It struck me that this neighbourhood does something which so many neighbourhoods in Canada sometimes miss – they make a ‘big deal’ of their place. They have a sense of pride in the neighbourhood where they live. Most people would not go through the work of arranging to have tile letters set into the concrete of the sidewalk on their street, but the people in this neighbourhood did; and it was inspiring.
Each day we put care into cars, hairstyles, and clothing. We celebrate accomplishments, family, and friends. Yet there is a movement in some neighbourhoods that is re-embracing a deep care for the places where we live. There is a growing sense that our streets and sidewalks and homes are not just incidental, but valuable and beautiful. In cities across Canada neighbours are starting to make a ‘big deal’ of their communities – creating character, charm, and building an amazing sense of place.
How can we make a ‘big deal’ of our neighbourhoods here in Chestermere? How do we extra take pride in The Cove, or build rich community in Rainbow Falls? How do the residents of Kinniburgh create outstanding culture in their neighbourhood, and what creative and unique ideas could the residents of West Creek embrace?
It takes a remarkable kind of passion and imagination to shape the character, charm, or unique identity of a neighbourhood. What is your first step to making a ‘Big Deal’ of the neighbourhood where you call home