About Strong Neighbourhoods
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.
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
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.
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:
- 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
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.
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
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
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
Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain Neighbourhood Association (KDKM)
President: Ray Lewis
Facebook: KDKM – Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain Neighbourhood Association
Kettle Valley Neighbourhood Association
President: Dave Cartwright
Rutland Residents Association
President: Lynn Jack
Vice President: Lorena Mead
Secretary: Sharlene Drohomereski
Facebook: Rutland Resident Association
Please note: it is the responsibility of the neighbourhood association to contact Strong Neighbourhoods regarding changes to contact information. Please email email@example.com.