inclusion Powell River brightens streets and brings residents together

Murals bring colour to neighbourhoods

Neighbourhoods around Powell River are benefitting from some added colour and personal connection. Through a series of micro-grants awarded last year, inclusion Powell River is brightening up streets where its residents live and giving neighbours the opportunity to meet.

“It was really a great way to do something positive,” said Christine Townley, who helped organize the projects.

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Townley is a community connector for Building Caring Communities, which is an umbrella organization that inclusion Powell River is a part of.

“The grants were kind of an extension of the block party idea the [City of Powell River] had up and running a couple of years ago,” added Townley.  

In 2017, the city applied for and successfully received a $20,000 PlanH Social Connectedness grant, said city community recreation program coordinator Shawna Rahier. The grant supported Powell River as one of four demonstration communities across BC to implement the Resilient Streets program.

Resilient Streets is a program of Building Resilient Neighbourhoods, a collaborative initiative which started and has been operating for several years in the Greater Victoria region. The impact of this program locally was greater than what was initially expected.

“From the launch of the program in June to the end in November 2018, a total of 57 Resilient Streets gatherings and projects were activated within the Powell River region,” said Rahier. “It is estimated that 2,797 neighbours participated in the program.”

The gatherings helped connect neighbours for the first time, increased their sense of belonging and trust within the community, and promoted the potential to help each other in the future, whether it be emergency response or neighbourhood improvement related, added Rahier.

When completed, inclusion’s mural project will take in six locations at Scotia Place, Nootka Street, Golden Avenue, Redonda Avenue, Joyce Avenue and the Jean Pike Centre. It includes a good neighbour box at Redonda House and a garden at Joyce House.

The project provided a morale boost and goodwill at a time when there were some issues surrounding some of the group homes, said Townley.

“This all came about at a time when there was some very serious stuff going on in at least one neighbourhood and it was a really good opportunity to allow the residents to use a grant to get out and know their neighbours a little better,” she added. 

Her hope is now that people have been introduced to their neighbours, positive change will continue.

“I find that there’s a big fear of the unknown,” said Townley. “People don’t know how to talk to people who have a disability. They don’t know what to say. I thought it would be a good opportunity to make that happen so they can just see that they’re average people who are different.”

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