About Strong Neighbourhoods

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A note from the Strong Neighbourhoods team regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

We want to remind people that social connections and support are still very important during this difficult time, as the world grapples with extended periods of isolation and physical distancing measures. We encourage you to find creative ways to connect with your neighbours in whatever form resonates with you and your neighbourhood – making sure you’re maintaining the recommended physical distance.

We have put together a list of ways you can build social connections and neighbourhood solidarity while maintaining physical distance.

From the Strong Neighbourhoods team, stay well and stay connected (from a distance) as we get through this challenging time.

Ways to connect with neighbours while physical distancing
  • Online connections: start a neighbourhood Skype, Facebook or WhatsApp group for virtual chats, dinner parties, workouts, morning tea/coffee or story time
  • Window walks: organize a different window theme each week for the neighbourhood, then go out for a walk or a drive to see everyone’s creativity. Possible theme ideas: encouraging words, flowers, funny faces, animals/stuffies, jokes, Easter eggs, hearts, etc.
  • Leave virtual kind messages/offers of support: a message through e-mail letting people know you're thinking of them
  • Chat in person: have a conversation over or through the neighbouring fence, or from the balcony. Remember to keep your distance.
  • Be friendly: Smile, wave and say hello to one another at a distance
  • Join the caremongering trend: support neighbours by getting food and essentials to those in need.

About Strong Neighbourhoods 

Strong neighbourhoods play a vital role in our residents’ daily lives by making a positive impact on their wellbeing, contributing to economic development and helping residents feel a sense of attachment to our city.

The goal of our Strong Neighbourhoods program is to increase residents’ level of attachment to the community by being a catalyst in inspiring neighbourhoods to foster a culture of connection and engagement. Connection and engagement are two sides of the same coin and it’s only through strong relationships that we can work together to make our neighbourhoods better places to live, work and play.

Sign up for Strong Neighbourhoods e-updates to stay informed.

Since the program’s creation, more than 4,500 residents have participated in 54 neighbourhood projects and more than 82 block socials have been supported across Kelowna.

History of Strong Neighbourhoods

Community engagement

In 2014, the Strong Neighbourhoods project team set out to learn from residents about neighbourhood life in Kelowna. Project staff designed an online survey and brought the survey to 24 community events throughout the city.

More than 1,500 people attended the community engagement events and 290 conversations took place. Event facilitators captured what they heard from residents and analyzed the information/feedback they received. They noticed significant trends in what characteristics Kelowna residents value in our neighbourhoods and what drives attachment to where we live. 

Survey summary

A total of 639 surveys were completed. Although the data gathered through the survey is not statistically valid, survey respondents did represent a cross section of the community in age, gender, years lived in the community, renters and owners, and sectors of the community.

Survey questions gauged levels and indicators that influence connection, engagement and attachment.

  • 73 per cent of respondents indicated their level of attachment as either moderately strong or strong
  • 82 per cent were satisfied with their level of interaction with their neighbours.

Respondents tended to report lower levels of satisfaction with their level of interaction and reported lower levels of interdependency and participation in social gatherings if they: 

  • Lived in their neighbourhoods three years or less
  • Interacted with their neighbours once a week or less
  • Intended on moving in the next five years
  • Were between 20-35 years of age and over 80 years of age

The top three things that respondents who reported being dissatisfied with their level of interaction would like to see enhanced in their neighbourhoods were:

  • Neighbourliness
  • Opportunities to interact
  • Public space in which to interact

Respondents also reported that they would be more likely to interact if they:

  • Had fewer resource constraints
  • Experienced more neighbourliness
  • Had more in common with their neighbours
Pilots to programs

Recognizing that connection and engagement are fundamental in fostering attachment to a community, the 2014 research and engagement data was carefully analyzed in order to determine how best to support residents of Kelowna in connecting and engaging at the neighbourhood level. Three key focus areas emerged through this analysis and formed the foundation on which the pilot projects were developed.

Foster neighbourliness

Kelowna residents’ survey responses indicated that they wished they knew their neighbours better, and part of the reason they don’t know their neighbours is because they are uncomfortable initiating conversations and/or believe they have nothing in common with their neighbours. Current literature and best practices report that providing opportunities for neighbours to come together is fundamental to strengthening neighbourhoods.

Bringing people together for the sake of getting to know each other, initiating conversation and establishing common interests are essential building blocks to neighbourliness. The dichotomy between resident experience and the research on neighbourliness led to the development of the first priority:

Support social offerings that foster neighbourliness

Inspire leaders

During the community engagement sessions, neighbours could identify a current or past neighbourhood leader. These leaders were described as the people who would organize social activities, champion local projects or advocate for neighbourhood needs. Residents noted that if these individuals had moved away, neighbourhood engagement tended to decline and eventually so did the social connection among neighbours.

Learning from residents about how invaluable these organic leaders are to the vibrancy of neighbourhoods, the second priority was established:

Inspire, encourage and support individuals to become initiators of connection and engagement in their neighbourhoods

Empower residents

The community engagement process uncovered key drivers of attachment for Kelowna residents. Since the overall objective of the Strong Neighbourhoods project was to increase citizens’ level of attachment to the community, it naturally follows that any initiative designed to strengthen neighbourhoods would need to address at least one of these areas. Since every neighbourhood is unique, residents are in the best position to know what could be enhanced in their neighbourhoods and often have innovative ideas on how to go about it. 

With these understandings, a third priority was determined:

Assist and empower residents to develop and implement initiatives that enhance neighbourhood aesthetics, safety, leadership, social offerings and/or relationships

Other ways to get involved in your neighbourhood 

Block watch

Creates a partnership between police and citizens that draws on members of the community for help in preventing and reducing neighbourhood crime. It’s a neighbour-helping-neighbour program that teaches citizens to secure their property, be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activities to the police. Contact the Community Policing Office at 250-470-0600 for more information.

NeighbourWoods

A residential planting initiative to encourage you to help grow healthy neighbourhoods and preserve our urban forest. Learn more about NeighbourWoods.

Neighbourhood and residents’ associations contact list

Clifton Highlands Community Association
President: Tara Godwin
Email:  cliftonhigh123@gmail.com
Facebook: Clifton Highlands Community Association

Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain Neighbourhood Association (KDKM)
President: Amanda Poon
Email: KDKMNeighbourhood@gmail.com
Website: kdkm.org
Facebook: KDKM – Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain Neighbourhood Association

Kelowna South-Central Association of Neighbourhoods (KSAN)
President: Susan Ames  
Phone: 778-688-8077 
Email: s_ames@telus.net
Treasurer: Pat Munro  
Phone: 250-763-5367  
Website: ksan-kelowna.ca  
Facebook: @KSAN 

Kettle Valley Neighbourhood Association
President: Len McFarlane
Email: admin@kvneighbourhood.com
Website: kvneighbourhood.com  
Facebook: Kettle Valley Neighbourhood

KLO Neighbourhood Association
President: Paul Clark 
Email: membership@klona.ca
Facebook: KLO Neighbourhood Association

McKinley Landing Residents Association
President: Bob Campbell
Email: mckinleylanding@gmail.com
Website: mckinleylanding.com

Okanagan Mission Residents Association
President: Brent Pay 
Email:  president@omra.ca
Secretary: Tim Butt
Email:  secretary@omra.ca
Website: omra.ca
Facebook: Okanagan Mission Residents Association

Quail Ridge Residents Association
Communications: Laura
Email: qrramembership@gmail.com
Website: quailridgeassociation.com

Rutland Residents Association
President: Peter Pagliocchini
Email: president@rutlandresidentsassociation.ca
Secretary: Sharlene Drohomereski
Email: secretary@rutlandresidentsassociation.ca
Website: rutlandresidentsassociation.ca
Facebook: Rutland Resident Association

*It’s the responsibility of the neighbourhood association to contact Strong Neighbourhoods regarding changes to contact information: neighbourhoods@kelowna.ca.