Applications are now being accepted by the City of Kelowna from residents with great ideas to help the city build stronger neighbourhoods.This is the second year that Neighbourhood Grants will be awarded to deserving citizens who could use funding to help enhance the quality of life in the Kelowna neighbourhoods in which they live.
The Neighbourhood Grant, first implemented in 2015, supports residents with matching grants of up to $1,000 to fund neighbour-building projects in the summer. Deadline for this is April 1. An example from last year would be the transformation of a boulevard in Kelowna’s downtown Knox Mountain community into a colourful, drought-resistant eco-garden, also known as an xeriscape. Spirits were lifted as the community came together to develop the garden. This was just one of 12 projects that got off the ground in 2015 in Kelowna. Others were Kelowna’s first registered little free library, neighbourhood barbecues and dinners where skill-sharing clubs were discussed, park cleanups and neighbourhood entrance improvements and seniors programs. There was even a dinner in a back-alley, designed to connect neighbours who share the alley but never have an opportunity to talk. Last year, 900 volunteer hours were invested by the 875 people that participated in Neighbourhood Grant activities.
This year is Year Two of a three-year partnership with the Central Okanagan Foundation.
This marks the first year that the Youth Development and Engagement Grant is available for young people 13 to 19 years of age, with the similar goal of neighbourhood improvement and citizen engagement. The deadline is April 15, and the matching grant money available is also $1,000.
More information on both of these opportunities can be found on the City of Kelowna website.
The Neighbourhood Grant funding provides enough funds for citizens to embark upon neighbourhood enhancement on a small scale. In thinking of a project, Kelowna residents should take into account projects which foster a sense of neighbourliness, inspire community leaders and provide residents with a sense of empowerment to effect change and influence attachment to the neighbourhood.
The April deadlines are the first of three opportunities to submit applications to the City of Kelowna for the Neighbourhood Grant project.
Feedback from 2015
Feedback following last year’s neighbourhood projects was 100% positive. All grant recipients were required to submit a follow-up report and all recipients complied. Everyone said their particular activity increased resident engagement and 83% of respondents said they were highly likely to organize something else in their community as a result of their positive experience.
All respondents were asked if $1,000 was enough to fund their small-scale community project and all stated that it was, with a few going so far as to say that $500 was enough.
The Neighbourhood Grant program has also increased collaboration between departments at the municipal level. The Parks department, Active Living and Culture, Roads, Policy and Planning, Communications plus Bylaw and Community Policing had to share information, look to each other for guidance and support while solving problems and doing risk assessments.