Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy
London, Ontario’s Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy (SNS) has been created by Londoners for Londoners. The five-year strategy, initiated by the City of London, was developed based on a series of meetings with over 100 community members and organizations. To ensure the priorities identified in the meetings were reflective of local experiences, the City of London organized a Residential Task Force to represent each of the 42 London neighbourhoods, permitting each neighbourhood to share their unique needs and priorities. An assessment of each neighbourhood was conducted to feed into the development of the strategy.
The data collected from meetings and neighbourhood assessments identified two common themes that have shaped the priorities of the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Work Plan: People and Places. Within the Work Plan, peoples and places were then divided into subthemes, which were then used to categorize specific priorities and actions.
The Work Plan is being used to guide the implementation of actions for each of the subthemes. In addition to the Work Plan, the SNS also provides a flow chart indicating how People and Place within neighbourhoods are interconnected, and highlights how each action can have an impact on both people and place.
Due to the layout and multi-sectorial focus of the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy Work Plan, it has been transferable to a variety of sector specific initiatives and organizations. For example, the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy Work Plan was used in the environmental awareness work of the Thames Region Ecological Association (TREA). TREA is a non-profit organization whose goal is to raise environmental awareness among its members and the general public within the London area.
The President of TREA, Maryanne MacDonald, has been greatly involved in the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy process. As a citizen, Maryanne participated in the initial focus groups and helped to shape the Work Plan. In addition, she found the SNS to be useful within TREA’s own environmental work as it contains a number of environmental priorities such as community walkability, bike lanes, safe road biking and green spaces. "The Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy has fit nicely into TREA’s objectives and it has been greatly beneficial in TREA’s work on renewable energy", says Maryanne. "With the assistance of the SNS, TREA has been able to connect with communities and individuals at the neighbourhood level who are already working on initiatives involving solar, wind and renewable energy renovations within London."
In addition to the workshops on renewable energy, Maryanne also highlighted the Walk and Shop initiative; a direct result of the priorities identified in the Work Plan of the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy. The Walk and Shop initiative has three main goals which are directly connected to the people and places themes of the Strategy. Mary Ann states "the Walk to Shop initiative not only has environmental benefits, such as lower air admissions, but also has community and health benefits while at the same time strengthening neighbourhoods. It is a nice way for people to visualize what [Walk to Shop] really means, because everyone understands walk to shop, and can get out of the car and meet local retailers and businesses…it’s not just about the people and the place, it’s about the people in the place.”
In participating in the Strengthening Neighbourhoods process, Maryanne found that the most powerful element of the process was community cohesion, the fact that over “100 people could come together in a room, come to consensus on a vision and there was power in the fact that so many people were on the same wave length.” Furthermore, as the Strengthening Neighbourhoods actions are interwoven into all elements of community, based on input from the community itself, they are able reach the broader community while focusing elements of both people and places.
To learn more about the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Strategy please visit: http://www.london.ca/d.aspx?s=/Community_Vitality/Neighbourhoods/Strengthening_Strategy/default.htm
To view the Strategy document please visit: http://www.london.ca/Community_Vitality/Neighbourhoods/Strengthening_Strategy/FINAL_Strat_Dev_Document.pdf
To learn more about TREA please visit: http://www.trea.ca/
Posted May 13, 2011