The City of Kitchener supports its neighbourhood associations in many different ways. They print our newsletters, pay several support staff to help our associations with planning our events and (hopefully) cutting through red tape and each year they hold a Neighbourhood Summit which brings together many of the associations to meet each other and talk over success stories and plan for the future.
This year's summit was held at the Victoria Park Pavillion on Wed, November 26 and included a nice dinner and dessert. Four members of the MHBPNA executive attended.
The evening began with an address by Michael May, Deputy CAO, Community Services and he discussed the new focus the city would be having on neighbourhood associations. Kitchener will be asking us more questions about what we want and how to provide services.
The Boardwalk NA and Forest Heights CA representatives gave a short presentation on how they were working together and pooling resources since Boardwalk is so new (in fact, it is still not on the City of Kitchener's map of associations).
After dinner we had two 40 minute "table talk" sessions where we broke into four or five groups to talk about specific issues.
The topics included Event Planning, Inclusion, Social Media, Running Programs and a few others. One thing I found most fascinating was the Cherry Park representative who declared that while Facebook and websites were great, they achieved the best advertising by simply planting signs on the ground a week prior to events. People see them as they are walking or driving and respond! Your MHBPNA representatives discussed our own media strategy, the launch of our new website and some of our past events like six years of Jane's Walks.
The final talk was from Glenn Scheels from the Auditorium NA and the topic was the Knollwood Park Rehabilitation. The City of Kitchener was spending $100,000 for landscaping and planting trees to make it a more vibrant and engaging space. The NA felt that a pavillion would really help with community events like baseball and soccer games and anything else that would benefit from shade and tables. But there was not enough money in the city's budget. So the Auditorium NA set about on a fundraising drive which eventually raised $54,000 ($10,000 was from a Festival of Neighbourhoods grant they won and they received a huge cheque for $25,000 from the Kitchener Rangers). This was an inspiring story of many people working together to create a permanent structure for the community.
We look forward to another Neighbourhood Summit in 2015.