Get to know your Kelowna neighbours with some city financial help - InfoNews

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Get to know your Kelowna neighbours with some city financial help

The City of Kelowna has a number of funding options to help neighbours get together.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/City of Kelowna
March 25, 2019 - 3:04 PM

KELOWNA - From a simple block party to creating a mini-park, the City of Kelowna is encouraging neighbours to get to know each other and is willing to back the effort with financial help.

The contributions range from gift cards and city staff helping organize local gatherings to a Neighbourhood Grant program that contributes up to $1,500 per project.

“Great cities are made up of strong neighbourhoods,” Tanya Sletten, the city’s Community Development Coordinator wrote in a report to city council. “As the City of Kelowna strives to become the best mid-sized city in North America, it is important to recognize the vital role neighbourhoods play in building a safe, vibrant, and sustainable city.”

At its most basic, the city can provide staff, tents, tables and chairs to set up neighbourhood gatherings, aided by a $100 gift card to help pay for food and drinks.

“That helps foster neighbourhood connections through block parties and neighbourhood gatherings so neighbours can get together in their neighbourhood park or in their complex or wherever they deem fit,” Sletten told

Over the past three years, that’s been done 58 times, drawing together almost 5,000 neighbours. Park and Play events have involved 18,000 residents.

The bigger funding option comes through the Neighbourhood Grants program that has contributed to things like a group in Crawford that fixed up the local ice rink, the aeration of Belmont Pond in the Mission or the creation of a one-day park out of a parking space on the street.

Then there are numerous “little free libraries” scattered around the city. Residents get little huts to set up in their yards where people can drop off books or pick up something to read.

“I had a resident in downtown who said he met endless neighbours just installing it,” Sletten said. “People would stop by in front of his home. It’s just a simple way to connect with neighbours. Just a really simple way to get to know one another.”

That part of the program funded 44 projects over the last three years involving 4,600 residents.

Fully funded by the Central Okanagan Foundation, it offered $15,000 a year but has only averaged an uptake of about $9,000 per year. The maximum grant was $1,000.

While it was not fully subscribed, some events, like the Crawford ice rink, are being resubmitted in order to complete all the work they want to get done, such as adding signage.

City council, therefore, agreed to increase the individual grant level to $1,500 per project. There will still be $15,000 a year available.

“Even though they’re small neighbourhood-based projects, the increase to $1,500 would help implement the projects a little bit better just because there are some expenses — such a liability insurance — that residents need to pay,” Sletten said. “It allows for more money to go to the project as opposed to permits and insurance that they may also require.”

In order to qualify for a project, at least three different households in a neighbourhood have to be involved and the money has to be matched either through volunteer labour, in kind donations or cash.

For more information, or to apply for a grant, check out the City of Kelowna website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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