Neighbourhoods Alive! worth the cost

By Rob Altemeyer - MLA for Wolseley

As published in The Metro

January 16, 2017

Have you ever had a great idea on how to improve your neighbourhood? For over 15 years, the Neighbourhoods Alive! program has helped turn those local dreams into reality.

It was actually my predecessor, the Hon. Jean Friesen, who started Neighbourhoods Alive! when she was the NDP MLA for Wolseley and Manitoba’s Deputy Premier. She recognized that the best community development ideas usually came from people in the community, and that core funding for local "renewal corporations" plus grants for specific projects were desperately needed.

Unfortunately, funding for Neighbourhoods Alive! has been frozen by the government while the program is "reviewed". Three different neighbourhood organizations in the Wolseley constituency are impacted by this decision. All of them offer a wide range of programs, and their accomplishments to date and their positive vision for the future should convince the government to restore full funding as quickly as possible.

At the Spence Neighbourhood Association (spenceneighbourhood.org) for example, youth programming has been a key priority. The SNA now offers a 24-hour Safe Space for Youth service, the Building Belonging after-school program and the First Jobs for Youth program.

At the West Broadway Community Organization (westbroadway.mb.ca), which like the SNA was one of the original organizations supported by Neighbourhoods Alive!, hundreds of new housing units have been built and many hundreds more successfully renovated to improve living conditions for local residents. The Good Food Club program helps address food security by connecting participants with a farm just outside the city limits where they work to earn food credits and learn about healthy diet and food preparation.

When the time came to expand Neighbourhoods Alive! to more communities, I was very proud to successfully lobby for the creation of the Daniel McIntyre-St. Matthews Community Association (dmsmca.ca). Housing fix-up grants, safety, and green initiatives such as community gardens and the Orioles Bike Cage are key priorities, as are several new neighbourhood festivals that bring residents together to build community from the grassroots up.

Some people might ask, "Can we afford all these great programs?" But when we empower communities to solve their own challenges with funding like Neighbourhoods Alive!, the costs to government in areas such as health care and justice can drop dramatically. A better question to ask is, "How could we possibly afford to cut these great success stories?"

Have you ever benefited from one of these programs? Let me know at Rob.Altemeyer@YourManitoba.ca, on Twitter @RAltemeyer or call my office at (204) 775-8575.