Neighbourhood groups strengthen the city

Neighbourhood groups strengthen the city

Did you know, that in your immediate area, there are people working to make your neighbourhood a better place?

There are actually several established community neighbourhood groups that are working together with partners to make your neighbourhood a strong and vibrant place to live, work and play.

In the past decade, many more groups have been established to reach almost the entire geographical area of Guelph. As each neighbourhood in the city is unique and diversified in the make-up of their residents, so too are their leisure and social needs. Community voices in Guelph are strong, and the current and new neighbourhood groups will continue to ensure that a forum is available for those needs to be heard and addressed.

Each neighbourhood group is focused on building healthy, vibrant communities. They create a welcoming atmosphere for residents to share ideas and to solve problems together while reaching common community goals through a consensus decision- making process.

Each group is based on a vision of shared values and principles that are constantly evolving and reflecting the changing needs of each neighbourhood.

Established in 1990, Onward Willow became one of the first neighbourhood groups in the Royal City. Through its involvement in the Ontario government’s Better Beginnings, Better Futures program, this group, like many others, brought together residents to work on building a better life for children, youth, and families and to improve the quality of life in their entire neighbourhood. Onward Willow offers various activities, from recreation programs to family lifestyle support.

Onward Willow, along with community partners such as Family and Children Services of Guelph and Wellington, also established the Shelldale Family Gateway Community Centre. This centre offers a wide assortment of community resources, activities, programs and services for the neighbourhood and links residents to various agencies offering additional support and services on and off the Shelldale site.

Several more neighbourhood groups were then established in different parts of the city and each one works to provide a variety of services to that particular neighbourhood.

Both the Brant Avenue and Kortright Hills neighbourhood groups were established in 1992 by residents who wanted to work together to enhance the quality of life in their neighbourhoods, making them wonderful communities for children and families and building strong, caring community spirits.

The Waverley Neighbourhood Group is made up of dedicated community members working to support children, adults and families by providing social, recreational and educational programs. They also act as a resource, helping link people to other community agencies.

Parkwood Gardens Neighbourhood Group, which serves the area between Paisley Road and Wellington Street, came together in 1996 to address concerns of residents in their area. Their goals are to provide programs for children, youth and adults and to improve the sense of community in the Parkwood Gardens area.

As the city grew, so did the number of groups. From the residents living in the Elizabeth Street and Victoria Road West area forming the Two Rivers Neighbourhood Group, to one of Guelph’s oldest neighbourhoods around Exhibition Park creating its own. As more people chose to live in the downtown area, the Downtown Neighbourhood Association was established. The area between Stone and Kortright roads is served by the Hanlon Creek Neighbourhood Group, while over in the Willow and Westwood roads area the Willow West Neighbourhood Group was established. In the east, we now have the Grange Hill Neighbourhood Group, while in the south there is the Clairfields Neighbourhood Group.

All of these groups are committed to making each area a healthy, safe community that provides opportunities for the social and personal development of all residents.

To help co-ordinate and support the efforts of neighbourhood groups, the City of Guelph’s community services department is shifting to a community development service model that joins other agency partners in the development and support of neighbourhood groups.

Since 1997, neighbourhood groups along with various agencies such as Family and Children’s Services, the Guelph Community Health Centre, Guelph Police Services and the city’s community services department, came together to form the Neighbourhood Support Coalition.

This partnership works to strengthen and enhance program opportunities and to make your neighbourhood a better place for you, your family and all residents living in that particular area.

This unique partnership also works together to achieve mutual goals, share knowledge and expertise, and develop joint programs and collective action.

Strong neighbourhoods make our city attractive to potential business, industry and families. Without the support of the community, these unique neighbourhoods could not function and keep Guelph a magnificent place to live.

It is essential that we continue to support existing neighbourhood groups and future groups being planned in our city, through both financial and physical support to maintain a high quality of life in Guelph and to keep your neighbourhoods safe, strong and proud.

I encourage new and longtime residents to get involved with your local neighbourhood group. It is the best place to really make a difference and have an impact on how you want your neighbourhood to develop.

Help to implement positive change to your city, get involved and help make your neighbourhood an exciting, incredible and energizing place to live, work and play.

Steven Petric is a member of the Guelph Mercury’s Community Editorial Board.

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