City of Powell River’s Resilient Streets program has been bringing neighbours and neighbourhoods together.
City manager of recreation Neil Pukesh outlined the program at the June 4 committee of the whole meeting and said he wanted to highlight it for the committee because it shows how well the program has been received in the community.
“The purpose of my report is to talk about the outcomes of the Resilient Streets program that the department of parks, recreation and culture launched in 2018,” said Pukesh. “We received a pretty big grant and took up a year of our staff time so I wanted to share information.”
The city put in application in 2017 for funding to deliver the Resilient Streets program and Powell River was one of four communities in BC selected.
“At the time, we made a decision to focus on our block party program,” said Pukesh.
He added that resilient communities are proactive, they build local capacity and help ensure essential needs are met in the community.
“Connected neighbourhoods have many advantages,” said Pukesh. “They make your community safer, they become more prepared for a local emergency, such as the wildfires that are happening across Canada. They make your community healthier. You have more fun, you are more active when you get to know your neighbours and your community. It improves your quality of life. We felt this was a great motivation to move forward on the project.”
Powell River received a $20,000 grant to implement the project and it was sponsored by the city and its parks, recreation and culture department, with staff delivering the program.
Pukesh said local toolkits were developed for the program to assist residents with planning. When people applied for a grant application to host a block party, they would receive the information and it would show them what they could do as part of their local event. There was a $50 planning fee allocated and a $200 grant to implement the project.
“With the $20,000 we were fortunate enough to purchase a community event trailer, so we now have this as a valuable community asset, fully stocked and loaded with chairs, tables, event tents; we have a portable PA system and a barbecue,” said Pukesh. “We can now pull up to these neighbourhoods and drop it off; ‘here’s your kit.’”
Also included are barricades and signs that help neighbourhoods block off and facilitate events.
Pukesh said the city’s parks department did a great job last year of delivering the trailer to events throughout the community. Sometimes it became overbooked if more than one event was planned for the same day.
Pukesh said it was a great purchase and it is available free of charge when a block party is booked.
He said the department found, once people completed their parties, that they had a greater sense of neighbourhood pride and there was more of a can-do attitude. People can provide mutual assistance because they know each other and what they can help each other with, he added.
“They feel connected and that’s what it’s all about,” said Pukesh.
In 2018 there were 57 gatherings held and it’s estimated that more than 2,700 people were connected. Pukesh said that is more than 20 per cent of the city’s population.
“It’s pretty impactful,” said Pukesh. “We feel, with this number alone, that it was valuable.
“Now, we are rolling this out in 2019, continuing our block parties, where we have 11 applications in the mix. We can hold maybe 20 to 25 events this summer. It’s probably going to sell out by the end of the month.”
Information on block parties is available at powellriverprc.ca/arts-culture/blockparties/.