Speaking anonymously from behind his 6-foot tall cedar fence, a west end resident has raised a number of complaints about the lack of community and neighbourhood charm in his west-end suburb.
“It’s like people pretend they don’t even see each other,” said the man, invisible in his backyard. “It took me almost three months to meet the guy on the other side of me, and that was only because FedEX delivered a package there by mistake.”
Many other residents share these opinions, lamenting the lack of friendliness and the absence of rallying points to generate camaraderie in their areas. Reasons for this barren community landscape include the large property plots and long driveways which make maintenance a chore, as well as a lack of walkable destinations at which locals can meet and mingle.
“Going home, I just drive by house after house. There’s no local shops, or a dance studio or anything, and even if there was, the houses take up so much space only a few people would walk to it. How are we supposed to get to know anyone when our communities are designed as a drive-thru and not a restaurant?”
Some initial steps are being taken by local council representatives, submitting a bill for taller fences that they hope will weave some community cloth.
“The goal,” outlined a supporter, “is to get everyone to have to re-do all their fencing. You’d have to talk to all your neighbours, organize the costs and the scheduling, agree on designs. It’s a pretty major undertaking that would bring people together and start to generate those roots where people get to know each other.”
However, others think that more drastic measures need to be taken.
“Yeah, the fence thing is a good idea,” admits the anonymous voice behind the cedar, “but I think it’s only a band-aid solution. What we really need to do is make this place busier. Maybe make the streets narrower and straighter so that walking is easier. Add a few office buildings and some retail and push the density up. Then people will be walking around, enjoying a lunch and maybe buying some gifts. We could have a pub in the middle for people to go after work. Doesn’t that sound like a lot more fun than what we’ve got now? Why don’t they make communities like that any more?”