The inaugural Neighbourhood Summit was held Saturday.
It brought together about 65 people all eager to learn and explore opportunities for St. John’s neighbourhoods.
“Whether it’s Georgestown Neighbourhood Association that’s well-established but could be reinvigorated by some of the discussions today, or some of the people who just want to start up a group in their neighbourhood and have a little bit more knowledge and connection in order to do that,” said Rob Nolan, board chair for Happy City St. John’s.
Along with the Harris Centre, Happy City St. John’s organized the one-day conference to help people share knowledge and ideas to improve their neighbourhoods.
The conference included a range of presentations and panels on topics ranging from establishing a neigbourhood association to making the city more inclusive.
“One of the strongest messages that came out of it from everyone was ‘nothing for us without us’, and the idea that, in many cases — and Happy City is guilty of this — we think that we’re including everyone, and we have a strong social media presence — as a good example of it — but there are better ways to be inclusive,” said Nolan.
He said many of the ideas that came up through discussions were little tweaks that can make a big difference.
For example, with the city implementing automated garbage, more people are placing their bins on the sidewalk, impeding mobility for people using wheelchairs.
Simple ideas such as placing the bin at the edge of the driveway resonated with those in attendance as easy fixes that will make a big difference for their neighbourhoods.
Another part of the summit was a Bike Network Design Jam led by Memorial University researcher Daniel Fuller.
That session saw people contribute to what a bicycle network might look like in St. John’s.
“Engineering and consulting and all of this stuff is really important, but we also need local knowledge to be able to help us build the bicycle network that we want, if we want people to get on their bikes, if we want people to be more physically active and maybe reduce some healthcare burden,” said Fuller.
An initial design plan that was already created by cyclists was brought to the session where people at the summit could contribute their ideas to improving it.
After the summit, a map and short report outlining the findings will be made available for further public consultation.