Our “Building a people-first future” tagline may be new, but it is one grounded, since our inception, in our commitment to building assured rental housing and developing holistic, transit-oriented mixed-use master-planned communities like Collingwood Village, our first such community in BC, started in 1994.
Over the years we have also expanded what it means to build community. In 2018 we partnered with the City of Vancouver in the Hey Neighbour! pilot project aimed at creating more socially connected rental housing. The pilot ran at The Remington rental building in Collingwood Village where residents were encouraged to organize fun social activities to connect neighbours with each other. It was such a success, we’re now scaling the program across our eleven rental properties in British Columbia and have plans to expand to Ontario later this year.
In 2020, this approach to social sustainability had been identified as a key goal within our Sustainability Framework, and we launched our Community Connectors program, building on our successful experience in the Hey Neighbour! pilot project to reduce loneliness and isolation. We now have eighteen Community Connectors throughout our rental communities in British Columbia. These resident volunteers are working together to co-create community activities big and small to bring neighbours together. We have created a community of “Connectors”, resident volunteers who empower and collaborate with each other to implement initiatives that build social connectedness, especially during this time when it’s difficult to get together.
Our work with partners such as Happy City provides residents the tools to create inclusive activities during times of physical-distancing, and we’ve adapted our approach to include small-scale and remote social activities that focus on building social capital and resiliency. We believe that everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy, and connected community, and following are some examples of how we’re actively applying this ethos across our communities:
- The Westridge. On March 266, the three Community Connectors hosted a live Zoom “Meet & Greet” to introduce themselves to the residents. They created three beautiful Easter baskets to give away to one lucky resident who answered the question: “what types of community activities would you like to see at The Westridge?”
- Fraser Pointe. Two Community Connectors, along with the support of another resident volunteer, created a survey for Fraser Pointe residents asking for feedback on the types of activities they would like to participate in and how they can make the Connecting our Community program successful. To assess community needs, they are also asking residents if they need support during the pandemic.
- Collingwood Village. Five Community Connectors at Collingwood Village will be hosting a “Zoom Speed-Friending” event on June 8, 2021. They will create breakout rooms for participants with fun questions to spark light-hearted discussion and connection. They are also sharing a sharing a survey to introduce the program and themselves through an email campaign.
- The Q Apartments, Victoria. Three Community Connectors hosted a “Zoom Bingo Event” on May 5, 2021. They are also planning to create a recipe sharing board and to host a live cooking class led by a fellow resident chef.
- Capital Park, Victoria. Mother and daughter (age 11) Community Connectors organized an Easter Egg Hunt. Our young volunteer created Easter eggs with jokes inside and hid them on each floor of the building. They are also planning a socially-distanced pancake breakfast this summer and have secured a donation from a local restaurant, Cora’s, to sponsor the batter and syrup.
- 600 Drake. Two Community Connectors organized a spring seedling give away. They asked residents to take a packet and to later share photos of their growing seedlings.