The downtown population is growing quickly.
As downtown Kitchener booms with unprecedented growth, a group of residents are reaching out to find ways to create a sense of belonging and community.
They’re looking at setting up a downtown neighbourhood association, that could do everything from make it easier for people to get to know their neighbours, to help provide residents with information about changes happening downtown.
The downtown population is growing quickly, with new developments like City Centre and 1 Victoria adding residents in the core, along with more established developments like the Eaton and Market Lofts.
A lot of the growth has been in highrises, notes said Sarah Brown, one of the people looking to start the new neighbourhood group. “Sometimes (in a highrise) it’s a bit harder to connect with your neighbourhood than if you live in a traditional cul-de-sac with houses right next to one another.”
Downtown, with its many highrises, its high number of renters, with people living next to shops, restaurants and businesses, is quite different than many other parts of the city, and its residents may have different needs, she said.
What the group does will be shaped by residents themselves, she said. They might advocate to to make sure the core remains affordable and welcoming to all, they might argue for amenities needed by highrise dwellers, like public parks or a downtown dog park.
The new association aims to serve people living in the area roughly bounded by Victoria, Weber, Benton and Joseph streets. “It’s brand-new,” Brown said. “It doesn’t really officially exist yet.”
They’ve organized three drop-ins this week for people to meet their neighbours and for people to offer ideas about living downtown, and what a neighbourhood association could do for them: Tuesday Feb. 5, 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the downtown community centre; Wednesday Feb. 6 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Open Sesame; and Saturday 9-11 a.m. at the Kitchener Market.
“If the only thing that comes out of this is that somehow we meet enough people so that a year from now, more people downtown look you in the eye and are saying hello, to me that would be a success,” she said.