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Our Block Party Meet & Greet held on July 29, 2018, was a HUGE success! A great turn out and so much fun. Ours is a brand new Block Watch area comprised of townhouses and detached homes with residents with a wide range of ages and residency experience in Canada. Like many neighbourhoods, residents tend to drive home at the end of a busy day and not interact with each other. Our general objectives were to build good connections with a sense of community and accountability to the neighbourhood, to strengthen positive relationships with the policing community, and to increase proactive involvement in safety and security initiatives like Block Watch. We are ecstatic to report that all objectives were more than met!
Games, arts and crafts, food, information sharing and handouts were popular parts of this event. Probably most gratifying, though, was the friendliness and inclusiveness of all participants – neighbours meeting neighbours new and old, children playing with children they had never met before though they live only a driveway or few doors away, plans being made to get together again soon! Even a woman speaking no English came and stayed until the very end. Everyone agreed that this party has improved their sense of belonging, security and pleasure in being part of this neighbourhood. Since members of an adjacent Block Watch group also attended our circle of friends can only expand!
A real highlight of the day for many was that we had not one, but two (!!!) police officers show up! Constable Varney on his motorcycle in the morning, and Constable Hogan and his cruiser in the afternoon. Both had plenty of interaction with the children and their parents – not sure who were more excited. The officers helped educate residents about safety and security and invited people to sit in their vehicles for photos while they answered the seemingly endless questions – we all learned a lot. Best of all, Constable Hogan helped finish the party off by escorting the start of the children’s decorated bike parade up Arbutus St to 49th and around the corner to the Arbutus Greenway – flashing lights and the occasional siren sound making it even more exciting!
Kevin Mo and Volunteers Lia and Ari also attended as part of Project Garage 529 and registered many bikes. We appreciate that they gave up their Sunday to stay the whole time and Kevin even spontaneously borrowed a very small bike to join the tail end of the bike parade!
We would like to give huge thanks to the Vancouver Foundation for the Neighbourhood Small Grant and to Kits House for administering it as without this support this amazing event would not have happened. Our Block Watch Liaison Constable Mattu and Leah Marlay also deserve special thanks for their role in arranging the participation of the policing community and providing some goodies for the children!
This Block Watch block party was such a success that our 10 core volunteers are already generating ideas for the next get-together and project which will likely happen before the end of the year!