People are the heartbeat of every neighbourhood – and when we bring people together, great ideas flourish.
The Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program began in 2017 with the simple yet powerful idea of supporting connection among neighbours. Grants of up to $500 are provided to bring community projects to life. Eligible projects include those that cultivate connection and belonging in your neighbourhood, build community strength and resilience, or tackle social isolation.
From neighbourhood block parties to community gardens and cultural events, there are many ways to build a thriving community. In 2020 and 2021, the NSG program adapted to become “Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grants” – encouraging community members to find ways to foster neighbourhood connection within the guidelines for physical distancing. In 2021, the NSG program approved 40 project applications, contributing over $18,000 to the Squamish community.
“The onset of the pandemic limited our contact with other people in a way most of us had never experienced. But our citizens rallied and used their creativity and ingenuity to find ways both virtually and in person to avoid social isolation and stay connected. Thankfully, the Neighbourhood Small Grants were there to provide that extra encouragement and support people to imagine, plan, and deliver amazing projects and events that brought us together over the past year“– Karen Elliott, Mayor, District of Squamish.
Here are just a few of the stories from our NSG recipients this past year:
Puppet Show and Party
The Amblepath community hosted a puppet show and parade, beginning with interactive songs and dancing led by a professional performer. Everyone of all ages and abilities was then invited to make their own animal puppets, followed by a Puppet Show from a real puppet theatre. The grand finale was a puppet costume parade around Amblepath, where everyone dressed up and marched to the music.
The event was focused on celebrating diversity, sharing skills, building relationships, and creating a sense of belonging through fun, shared activities.
“Everyone loved the event and had no idea it was going to be so big with live music, puppets and food. It was so amazing to have the Amblepath community participate together in a family-fun event for all ages.” – Eva Srobotnjak, project organizer (August 2021).
Ring Creek Off Grid Skills
An off-grid community located above Quest on Garibaldi Park Road used the NSG grant as a chance to educate their community on fire risk and protecting their water source lines. They purchased equipment and held an event where residents learned how to use a water pump and fire hose using water from their local creek.
“The project helped us open more conversations and build relationships with each other. As you feel more comfortable with your neighbours, you are able to ask them for help and you look after each other more. It is also easier to solve problems when there are more minds working together – strength in numbers!” – Kristen Lowe, project organizer.
Ice Cream Social
In the Meighan Creek Estates complex, neighbours recognized that at least a third of their residents had moved in within the last year. They felt that it would be enjoyable and fun to host a COVID-safe Ice Cream Social so that neighbours, both old and new, could meet, get to know each other as a community, and build new friendships.
“We had a lovely sunny day, so the ice cream was appreciated along with the visits with neighbours and friends. Just seeing the children with ice cream all over their faces was enough thanks for the organizers!” – Shirley Oliver, project organizer (August 2021).
‘Content’ newspaper was created as a community project with the goal to share more positive news with the people of Squamish. Chantelle, project organizer, had the desire to bring a refreshing twist on what we typically know as ‘news’, reporting on positive changes and events and truly inspiring people from our community. She put out a call for content in the fall of 2021, and published the first edition of the paper in early January 2022.
Content Newspaper was delivered in a classic newspaper style format, a piece of enlightening print to share news to make you feel content. An online version is also available.
“When much of the media is full of doom and gloom, instead this print [was] dedicated to fun, independent, local reporting about what is bringing us joy amongst these weathering times.” – Chantelle Matthews, project organizer.
Community Street Art
On this project in Brackendale, the neighbourhood worked to create and share kind messages to drive safely and slowly on their increasingly busy streets. Each home received a poster board and paint to create their own message, which were then attached to family garbage cans and/or local street signs. When the signs were complete, they celebrated with a pizza dinner for all.
“The event ended up becoming child-led! We planned for families to work together to create each sign, but the kids took over and created the coolest signs. Everyone was so happy to be there, it really brought us together to share in caring for our neighbourhood.” – Jen Yates, project organizer (August 2021).
Squamish AR Sandbox
This creative team had the idea to build an augmented reality sandbox to teach people about topography and watersheds. Their aim was to inspire people to think holistically about their surrounding environment, and the impacts they might have on it. While they faced some roadblocks in acquiring building materials and other components, the two leaders persevered and brought the hands-on construction and the technology together. The project will soon be available to the public.
“With Squamish being surrounded by complex topography, it’s impossible not to feel a connection to the mountains. Whether we know it or not, we all play an integral part in the health of our watersheds and the surrounding environment.
“While we were in the garage testing out the system, I realized it was already doing it’s job of bringing people together. It was as cool as I imagined. I knew if three grown men could get that excited about a sandbox, others will too!” – Devin Kiyonaga, project organizer.
These are just a few of the many incredible stories from our NSG recipients this past year. You can read more about each of their stories in the 2021 Neighbourhood Small Grants Yearbook.
Thank you to our supporters!
A special thank you to Doug Hackett and June Kleben, NSG Program Coordinators, for their continued dedication to this important community program.
This program is made possible by our sponsors – the Vancouver Foundation and the District of Squamish.
Thank you to Emilija Dufresne and Rachel Dudley, our resident advisors, and to our program partners, project leaders, and other supporters along the way!
Learn more about the NSG program and how you can get involved.