Local citizens, elected officials and other active members of the NDG community gathered on Dec. 1 to discuss how to improve the quality of life in the neighbourhood. This decennial meeting was part of the Quality of Life Conference hosted by the NDG Community Council, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
“Even in 1942 it was felt that so many organizations and people had such good intentions, but there was often a need to work more closely together, to be more effective and to look at the long term,” said NDG Community Council board member and former president John Richardson. “That was the case in 1942 and it is actually still the case today.”
For over seven decades the council has supported and encouraged residents to voice their concerns about social and economic issues such as housing, food security, urban planning, and health and recreational services. In 1973 it hosted its first Quality of Life Conference, where two hundred residents and community stakeholders discussed challenges and solutions for numerous issues like community services, raising a family in NDG, and helping immigrants adapt.
These meetings have become important forums to gather people together and identify the key priorities that need to be dealt with. NDG resident Sharon Leslie was one of the many active citizens on hand at the decennial conference. She’s a firm believer in citizens and community organizations having both the right and the responsibility to help shape their communities. “That’s why I’m here – because I believe in the contributions that citizens can make to improving the quality of life in their local neighborhoods.”
This reflects precisely the council’s intentions. Richardson and current board president Ruth Weber are also big advocates of facilitating citizen participation. “This is about the local resident, and about the local resident being involved and able to influence how things are in the community,” they explained. “For the council, that’s really what we want. We want residents who are active, who want to change things and be involved in the whole process of how things are decided.”
The daylong Quality of Life Conference looked for a strategic plan for the 2013-2016 period. Its agenda was twofold. The first part of the day was devoted to the presentation of collected neighbourhood data on a number of key issues: economic development, employability, transportation, housing and community spaces. The second part of the day offered participants the chance to build an action plan, complete with their objectives and how to attain them.
“There’s bound to be tons of good ideas today – the real work is what happens afterwards,” said Leslie, whose main concern is the lack of social housing in the neighborhood. “I really hope that there are people who continue to come to the follow-up meetings and work on planning strategies.”
More information on the NDG Community Council and its quarterly table meetings can be found online at ndg.ca.
/ Sarah Geledi /