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Seeking Greater Victoria's 'model' neighbourhoods

Nov 11 2012
Sarah Amyot with a book box on Queens street. 

Sarah Amyot with a book box on Queens street.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , Times Colonist

Coming up with a concept for a "model" neighbourhood is one of the goals of an exercise taking place around the region.

The Building Resilient Neighbourhoods Project is based on a schedule of public sessions for residents, businesspeople, representatives from local government, churches and other organizations.

The project began with introductory sessions at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre's Kinsmen Field-house and the Burnside Gorge Community Centre.

The project is being coordinated by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria, Transition Victoria and the Fraser Basin Council's Smart Planning for Communities. It has financial support from the Vancouver Foundation.

The workshops are being held to give individuals and groups a chance to come together "and create communities that can thrive in the face of change," said Sarah Amyot of the Community Social Planning Council.

Changes or challenges to be considered can range from global concerns like climate issues and economic uncertainty to more localized matters such as aging infrastructure and housing affordability.

A key part of the process is urging people to look at the big picture and not focus on any one problem, Amyot said. One way neighbourhoods have done that is by creating vibrant street-level communities where residents get to know one another, she said.

Encouraging new neighbourhood leaders is another of the project's goals.

"One of the challenges that some of the formal community associations say they face is an aging leader-ship," Amyot said. "We're trying to foster a new generation of leadership that can contribute to those organizations."

Looking at ways to maximize use of local amenities such as community halls is also on the agenda.

"Fernwood is a really good example of that, where the community association came together and purchased a building."

Amyot said some neighbourhoods have created shared chicken coops and public book boxes where reading material can be borrowed and returned.

"There's an example from McCaskill Street where the neighbours banded together and bought one freezer that they shared," she said. The freezer allows large quantities of food to be bought and shared by the group.

Emergency preparedness is another popular issue, she said, adding that it can be the "hook" to get people moving in the same direction.

Once the workshops are finished, project proponents hope to have funding in place to work with one

"model" neighbourhood in a more direct fashion. This neighbourhood would be involved with the project for eight to 12 months, Amyot said.

Everyone is welcome to attend the workshops:

? Nov. 15, 6: 30-9 p.m. at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre's Kinsmen Field-house

? Dec. 4 , 6: 30-9 p.m. at the Burnside Gorge Community Centre

? Jan. 17, 6: 30-9 p.m. at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre

Pre-registration is encouraged through resilient-neighbourhoods. eventbrite.ca or communitycouncil.ca.

Contact the Community Social Planning Council at 250-383-6166.

BRIDGES TO TELL WOMEN'S STORIES

Twenty-five years of transforming lives is cause for celebration at Bridges for Women.

The agency, which helps women dealing with abuse or violence, is collecting sub-missions for an anniversary volume to be called Book of 25 Stories. Poems, artwork and photos are welcome.

Just about anyone who has had a connection to Bridges - including graduates, board members, staff and volunteers - is invited to get involved.

The deadline for submissions is Nov. 23. The finished book will be released March 8 at the group's International Women's Day luncheon.

Bridges was created in 1988 with a focus on employment training for women facing difficulties in their lives. Mentoring and long-distance learning are among the other programs offered.

Call 250-385-7410, ext. 23, or send an email to carrie@bridgesforwomen.ca

FOOD DRIVE FOR MUSTARD SEED

The community has been stepping up to help the Mustard Seed Food Bank, which has been scrambling recently to deal with a budget crunch.

On Friday, Poets Cove Resort and Spa is joining with Aureus Vacuum Services for a food drive. Non-perishable food donations will be collected at the Mustard Seed (625 Queens Ave.) from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the most generous contributors eligible for a weekend retreat at Poets Cove or a new vacuum cleaner.

Later in the day, staff from both businesses will prepare a meal at the Mustard Seed for as many as 300 people in need.

TELUS DONATES TO STRONG KIDS

The YMCA-YWCA of Greater Victoria has been given $65,450 by Telus to support the Strong Kids Campaign.

The money, presented during the annual Telus Celebration of Giving - held recently at the Fairmont Empress hotel - will help disadvantaged youth get involved with YMCAYWCA programs and activities. The contribution came via the six-month Phones for Good initiative at Telus, in which the company gave $25 to the cause for every new smartphone customer in the Victoria area.

The Telus Victoria Community Board, one of 11 in place across Canada, will have given $375,000 to local youth charities in 2012.

That total is part of more than $1.1 million being distributed to community programs in Victoria this year.

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT DINNER COMING

Christina Parkhurst is holding a meeting today to get organizing started for the 22nd annual Christmas Spirit Community Dinner.

The dinner will bring together people from all walks of life on Christmas Day for a turkey feast.

Gifts will be given as well.

Today's session is upstairs at the McDonald's at Shelbourne Street and Cedar Hill Cross Road from 2 to 3: 30 p.m.

Contact Christina Parkhurst at 250-472-1040 or xmasdins@telus.net.

On the web: www. christmasspiritdinner.ca

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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