The Good Neighbour Council
On March 4th, 2021, the businesses on Builders Road, surrounding neighbours and interested stakeholders, virtually met, to start getting to know each other and begin the implementation of the Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) that was signed in December 2011.
Establishing regular communication methods, creating responses to complaints and concerns, addressing safety considerations and building a strong community is the primary purpose of the Good Neighbor Agreement. In addition, opportunities will be provided to Bedford House residents. These efforts can improve their reintegration efforts and bring positive experiences to the neighborhood.
The Good Neighbour Council will be the format for doing this. It is beneficial for all parties and its main goal is to foster communication, build relationships with each other and ensure the effective implementation of the GNA.
The meeting started with each member identifying what community meant to them.
“Community, for me, is a place of communication. It is a place where people can speak to each other without being attacked for their opinions,” says one of the Good Neighbor Council members.
As a generalization, each member defined community as a place one can feel safe, comfortable, and included.
Through two online meetings, the Good Neighbour Council has already formed an understanding of the steps that will be taken if a complaint is made. This is to ensure everyone feels more comfortable speaking out if/when needed.
Updates and Feedback
The GNC, kick-started by an information session held on January 12, 2021, was for individuals to understand what the Good Neighbour Council would be. When most of the same invitees attended the first “official” GNC meeting on March 4th, it was evident that things were on the right track!
Attendees were provided a Bedford House update, and were asked to provide feedback on the GNA’s complaint process. They were reminded that while complaints may be rare, they will still be considered and respected with every intention of finding a solution.
Bedford House’s manager shared their most recent success story which was a “testimony that CJHS is a great operation,” said one of the council members.
After living at Bedford House for approximately a year, an elderly client began looking for senior housing once his parole was over.
At the time, none was available, so he rented an apartment at Bedford House for two months to prevent homelessness, until later finding a seniors housing facility in March of this year.
He woke up crying his first morning away from Bedford, because he missed the place that felt like his home.
“When the men think of Bedford House as their home, that is special,” says the Bedford House manager.
After hearing the success that can, and has, come from Bedford House, the Good Neighbor Council felt confident in the work that was taking place at CJHS and within their community.
“They care about the residents, will protect them and will make sure that they know when their behaviour makes someone uncomfortable and address [those] behaviours,” says one member of the council.
The future of the Good Neighbor Council
Meetings will be held quarterly, and involve all surrounding businesses, as well as a member of the Calgary Police Service, Correctional Service Canada and Councillor Carra’s Ward 9 office.
“I feel welcomed into the community, and that feels really good to me and I really appreciate the City’s involvement as well,” stated a representative of one of the newest surrounding businesses.
Through consensus, the Good Neighbour Agreement will be revised, modified, and adjusted to find the most efficient and effective way to be implemented.
The GNC was eager to engage in the decision-making process, therefore any/all suggestions made will be taken into consideration when the agreement is revised.
Collaboration and engagement within the council showed community building at its finest, by giving everyone a chance to share their opinions.
Due to this, the future of the Good Neighbor Council meetings looks optimistic, because it is a safe space for all members to participate and feel closer to their community members.
“This type of ‘space’, that is, the Good Neighbour Council, brings people together, helps them to talk about the concerns, and the realities of the situation.”