This blog post will talk about neighbourhoods and neighbourhood associations
I used to live on a busy street, across from a church. My house was in the middle of the block and I had neighbours on both sides. Over the years, I got to know my neighbours on both sides, but not very well. We would stop for a chat if we were both out doing yard work: gardening, raking the leaves, shovelling the snow, that sort of thing. But we didn’t have much in common and the cars whizzing by would be a distraction to a prolonged conversation. This was the first house that I bought in Canada. And it was a great house in a good school zone. The school was Empire and the busy road was Westmount. We didn’t realize what we were missing until we moved.
For nine years we lived in that house on that busy street. And we were very happy there. But then we bought another house and we moved. We moved about 900 metre. That is the length of nine football fields. We moved to a narrower, much less busy and much quieter street on the other side of the same neighbourhood that we had been nominally part of for the past nine years. We moved closer to Uptown Waterloo but are still in the same school zone.
That changed everything, moving off a busy street did.
Most people don’t realize what they don’t have until they see others that have it. Most people don’t notice what isn’t there. What we had been missing all those years was a sense of community. What we were missing was neighbourhood. You don’t realize it when you live on a busy street, but you are not part of the neighbourhood. You are the way into the neighbourhood. A good example of this happens at Halloween. Whereas my neighbours around the corner on the quiet residential streets would get 40 or 50 kids to their doors, we would get ten or a dozen. Kids would trick or treat up one side of the quiet street and down the other. They would not turn the corner. They would not go around the block.
Even though we had kids and a dog, and people knew and liked us, we were always the forgotten neighbours.
Neighbourhoods are very important to real estate. I think you should choose your neighbourhood first and your home second. I used to say that you can improve your home but you can’t improve your neighbourhood. That’s not exactly true. Neighbourhoods can be improved and they have been improving all over town often through neighbourhood associations.
Kitchener has been focusing on a neighbourhood strategy. City council recently approved 32 neighbourhood associations. Here is a complete list. The goal is to create more vibrant communities which lead to better living experiences for everyone.
My neighbourhood association this week organized an outing to a local business that might be suffering under the LRT construction. It will be a get together for us, a chance for a late winter reconnect with neighbours we haven’t seen as winter keeps us indoors. Throughout the winter, we have organized activities nights for the kids in a local church basement. It is simple but it builds a sense of community for us.