West Hillhurst was named the most neighbourly in the province, thanks to more-than-a-little community spirit.
The Calgary community won the title after participating in a contest through ATCOenergy subsidiary, Rümi.
Individuals from across the province were encouraged to nominate their community through stories of neighbourly good-deeds, and community connections.
“In our neighbourhood, we have a Facebook group called Friends of West hillhurst, and in the group one of the moms had put in a nomination and shared the contest, and from there it really just went viral,” said Christine Brown, West Hillhurst Community Association (WHCA) board secretary.
“People were posting in there saying, ‘oh, another nomination,’ but they would leave little clues and make it really fun… they would just say, ‘this person shovelled my walk every day when I broke my leg for three weeks, and they truly deserve to be nominated.'”
Rumi said that almost every community in Calgary was nominated for the contest, alongside communities in Edmonton and other Albertan cities and small towns.
Runner-up communities included Sage Hill and Nolan Hill in Calgary, Klarvatten in Edmonton, and cities and towns like Airdrie, Sherwood Park, and Longview.
“We had more than 600 Albertans nominate people in their communities… and we’re amazed but not surprised by by the kindness and perseverance and dedication that people have in making their communities and neighborhoods so great,” said Marshall Wilmott, ATCO Chief Digital Officer and Rümi President.
‘Ultimate Block Party’ to make up for cancelled Neighbour Day event
Rümi, as part of the contest, will be helping West Hillhurst to host the “Ultimate Block Party” at the WHCA.
Brown said that the community was super excited for the block party after their original Neighbour Day plans were cancelled due to the heavy rains at the end of June.
“I think that this is this is something that everyone’s really looking forward to, and with school kicking off, busy schedules starting to happen it becomes a rat race, and and so this is a good chance for everybody to connect again before winter comes.”
WHCA president Cher Jacobs said that the party has also garnered support from other organizations and individuals. Ward 7 Coun.Terry Wong is slated to attend, alongside Hillhurst’s community liaison constable.
“It’s bringing a lot of parts of our community together,” she said.
“People having an opportunity to just informally chat with your counsellor, or their constable, over a beer with some live music in the background is just a great way of expanding conversations.”
Local musicians Prophets of Music will be performing at the party. There will also be food trucks provided by YYC Food Trucks, carnival and lawn games including a 9-hole mini-golf course, and a petting zoo courtesy of Butterfield Acres Farm.
And for the adults, a Tailgunner Brewing beer garden.
The party runs from 4 to 7 p.m. at 1940 – 6 Avenue NW.
Contest a way to reconnect community
Wilmott said that the contest came about as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve all been through a lot over the last couple of years, through the pandemic, and I really feel strongly that Alberta is a great community and and we’ve got a great collection of neighbourhoods—and people really stood up for one another and helped each other.”
“We just thought it would be a great way to celebrate Albertans, and quite frankly as well, the first anniversary of this new business.”
Rumi was created during the pandemic to connect local Alberta home and handyman business to homeowners in need.
Brown said that through the pandemic residents of West Hillhurst kept in contact primarily through the Facebook group that would eventually be used to generate nominations.
West Hillhurst organized contests of their own during pandemic
She said they were able to organize things like colouring contests for kids, alongside socially distanced activities like window decorations.
“It was our St. Patrick’s Day hunt where we just all decorated clovers and put them in our windows. And because people weren’t out and able to get together, we would walk around and look at people’s windows.”
She said it was these little things that when added up made members still feel connected to each other.
Jacobs said that the party would be going a long way to restoring the in-person connection.
“I think that’s really filled a gap. We’ve had a strong history in the community of casino nights, and a lot of like social engagement, and just over the past few years that’s been a big void in the community.”
“That’s one of the things we hear when we do a community survey: people want to have a chance to get out and hang with each other.”
Rümi contest a possibility for next year
Although there hasn’t been any formal announcements made, Wilmott said that they were looking at doing another contest for 2023.
“I think it’s a great, great way for us to participate in the communities within Alberta.”
“We think that engaging with neighbourhoods, sharing experiences and everything that good neighbours do, that’s kind of what we want to be delivering as Rümi. And so I think you can probably expect we’ll be we’ll be doing another similar type of thing next year.”
As for whether West Hillhurst would try for a second title in a row, Jacobs said that the community would be interested in trying.
“I mean, who would pass up the opportunity to be a multi year champion?”