Inspiring Strong Neighbourhoods spent nearly $100,000 on parks, benches and other community additions

Members of the Castleridge/Falconridge action teams conduct a walkabout in January 2013. This is required to determine the initial needs of each participating community. A report on Calgary's $225,000 Inspiring Strong Neighbourhoods initiative was held until after the election.

A Community and Neighborhood Services report to the priorities and finance committee was schedueled for the Sept. 16 City Council agenda, but was removed because key aldermen were absent, according to Laura Lobsinger, assistant to the director of community and neighbourhood services with the City of Calgary.

The Inspiring Strong Neighborhoods Initiative is currently underway in 12 selected communities:

1. Cedarbrae
2. Skyview Ranch
3. Crescent Heights
4. Forest Lawn
5. Wildwood
6. Westgate
7. Spruce Cliff
8. Rosscarrock
9. Beddington Heights
10. Bankview
11. Dover
12. Falconridge/Castleridge

The one time funding of for the initiative was first provided through the Council Innovation Fund in November 2012. According to the report, the objective of the initiative is to help "residents to identify opportunities and make recommendations to The City about municipal programs and services that improve the quality of life of their community."

"The overall goal of the Inspiring Strong Neighbourhoods initiative is to implement the community development approach into every community across the city," said Karen Young, director of Community and Neighbourhood Services.

The report to council describes what has been done with $96, 814 of the funding. Some examples of the projects funded include: a new playground in Forest Lawn, dog park dispensers in Skyview Ranch, picnic benches in Cedarbrae and a community garden in Dover.

Young said in an email that 75 per cent of the proposed community projects are underway or have been completed. A list of the completed and current projects is available for the public on the council agenda.

The report asked council for the go ahead to spend the remaining $128,186 on pilot projects.

The Inspiring Strong Neighbourhoods project is slated to continue the work of the action teams, which consists of city services members, in the 12 communities. The initiative also encourages residents to continue their involvement in neighbourhood projects.

According to the report, the initiative's next step is to evaluate the success in each pilot community and summarize this into a series of "lessons learned" presentations.

Members of each community "action team" consists of members from each department of city services, such as Parks & Recreation, Animal Bylaw Services, Calgary Fire and Police Department and Alberta Health Services. Members of each community "action team" consists of members from each department of city services, such as Parks & Recreation, Animal Bylaw Services, Calgary Fire and Police Department and Alberta Health Services.
Photo courtesy of Ward 5 Photo Gallery, calgary.ca
The initiative is also developing a new model for the project.

The new model is proposing criteria for selecting additional communities of high priority to be added to the project for 2014. The report added that the model will take into account community needs, state of readiness and overall resources.

The report stated plans to incorporate any future budget gaps into a regular budgeting solution for the project. These plans will be presented to the next elected council for approval.

Any current and additional information about the project can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions document.

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