Gathering of Gatherings 2019

26th Annual Celebration

November 17, 2019, 1-3 pm
Kitchener City Hall Rotunda

2019 Celebration Poster

Neighbours connected and shared skills and ideas at 26th Kitchener’s annual Festival of Neighbourhoods Celebration. The Festival Season has encouraged and recognized once again this year a wonderful range of neighbourhood gatherings large and small, totaling 69 in all. Neighbours have taken the initiative to organize and attend gatherings at which they meet one another, exchange ideas and strengthen the fabric of our community. 

Citizens from neighbourhoods across Kitchener, city councillors & staff, and representatives of various supporting businesses and agencies came together in a spirit of celebration to share ideas on how to make their neighbourhoods stronger, and to be inspired by the stories of others. Participants struck conversations while enjoying ice cream and snacks, and visiting informational stations that highlighted the key aims of the Festival and recognized the energy and efforts of participants. The Celebration was organized as a “gathering of the gatherings”, staying true to the overall aims of the Festival for bringing people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to meet and engage with one another.

The Victoria Commons Neighbourhood and Chicopee Neighbourhood were the recipients of the Festival’s two $20,000 capital grants, provided by the City of Kitchener. They will work side by side with the City in the coming months to make improvements in their neighbourhoods.

Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock drawing the capital grant neighbourhood recipients

The Williamsburg, Sprucedale Crescent, Stanley Park South, Victoria Commons and Chicopee neighbourhoods were highlighted by the Festival and the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region for holding neighbourhood gatherings that strived to be as inclusive as possible. These neighbourhoods have worked to identify barriers to participation and have found practical and innovative solutions to participation in the spirit of the Festival’s motto: Reach!

The Trudy Beaulne Award, from the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region, was presented to the North 6 Neighbourhood in order to provide support for engagement and community development activities that strengthen social connections and capacity throughout this neighbourhood and community. The newly formed North 6 neighbourhood, centred in the Westmount and Ottawa area, looks forward to the possibilities.

The Ward Challenge went to Ward 10 (Councillor Sarah Marsh), with 22 registered neighbourhood gatherings. The “Neighbourhood to City” station highlighted how a neighbourhood becomes stronger when neighbours come together, and how city councillors & staff can offer support to citizens to make their neighbourhoods even greater. The Ward challenge is a fun way to highlight areas of the community where registered participation in the Festival is especially strong.

After a Neighbours Day Picnic, the organizers felt the positive changes in Chicopee neighbourhood. In the words of one participant: “I noticed after our get together, people are smiling more and saying hi to each other. The children feel safe playing outside.I see some residents talking to each other on a daily basis. It has become a warm and pleasant environment.” 

Victoria Commons held their first Block Party in June.“Many people made new connections, and people seemed more inclined to be walking in the neighbourhood saying hi after the Party”

This year’s Sponsors of the Festival and its aims include:  Boehmers Brampton Brick, Steed and Evans, the Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association, Alejandra Ivic Re/Max Twin City Realty Inc., the Grand Valley Society of Architects, Swansons Home Hardware Building Centre, the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, and the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

The supporters at this year’s Celebration were Tina’s Zentangle, Articulate Photography and Four All Icecream!

Festival of Neighbourhoods is a joint initiative between John MacDonald Architect and the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region, with support from the City of Kitchener.

26th Annual Celebration

If you are a neighbourly spirit, come and join the 26th Annual Celebration of the Festival of Neighbourhoods on Sunday November 17th, 1-3pm at Kitchener City Hall Rotunda. Regardless of having registered gatherings with the Festival this year or not, come and explore with neighbours from all over the city to fill up your Neighbourhood Loot Bag with ideas that are fun, surprisingly simple, empowering and within your REACH! If you haven’t yet, RSVP by November 7th the number of adults and children to come: or 519-579-3800

Stronger Neighbourhoods the Fun Way

September 2019 E-Neighbour

As you build stronger neighbourhoods the fun way, we support your REACH by gathering insights into the evolving nature of neighbourhoods across the city. FoN intends to expand its support and resources such as Neighbourhood Activity TrunkActivity Guide and Reach! Inclusion Challenge. Also, this year’s Celebration will introduce a new era, in which Festival of Neighbourhoods will encourage everyone to meet their neighbours, explore the richness of experiences and interests we share across diversity and feel the joy of being in the centre of our own neighbourhoods. If you want to know how, do not forget to register your neighbourhood’s gatherings and to join the Annual Celebration on Sunday November 17th at the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda from 1pm to 3pm. Read more in our September e-Neighbour!


Festival of Neighbourhoods, Invaluable Resource

We can’t help but notice places near our homes that could be improved with a small change, or how our growing city could potentially impact our neighbourhoods. How to harness all the great ideas is best done by sharing and recording them through neighbourhood gatherings. On that journey, the Festival of Neighbourhoods has proven itself to be an invaluable set of tools and resources. Read more in the July E-Neighbour about the Schneider Creek story: “Making our Neighbourhood Great!” and take the Event-in-a-Trailer survey by July 8th to let us know how we can create even better tools and resources for you.

Neighbourhood Resiliency in Emergencies

Natural disasters, such as floods and fires, hitting communities far and near have been featuring prominently in the media as we talk more about the climate crisis. What, as neighbourhoods, can we do to be more resilient in the case we are hit by such an event? Trust among the neighbours is the not-so-secret ingredient.

“It is extremely important that you get to know your neighbours beforehand, so that you know who is elderly, who has young children, pets, may have a disability.”

Steve LaRochelle, Emergency Management, City of Kitchener (May E-Neighbour)

Neighbourhood Connections

The Neighbourhood Connections Award has had a deep impact in neighbourhoods across Kitchener. Festival of Neighbourhoods, in itself, seemingly a simple approach, has contributed enormously in building close and loose ties among people in our community. They are our lifeline of access to information and opportunities. However, the Neighbourhood Connections Award, introduced in 2000 by Social Development Centre, helps us work through equity issues to build community capacity. Read about this unique process, welcomed by the Victoria Park neighbourhood in 2019, and more in our March E-Neighbour.

Having Fun in the Neighbrrrhood?

We have seen some cold spells this winter and we cannot have them discourage us from spending time with our neighbours! Yes, we shovel together, and de-ice our sidewalks together, sure, some people bond and have fun this way. There are many paths to take in neighbourhood winterland. Some ideas are in our Winter E-Neighbour, including the 2018 Annual Celebration Inclusion Recognition Recipient neighbourhoods: Doon South, Schneider Creek, Auditorium and New Doon. Next time you organize a neighbourhood gathering in winter, think of the ways to be inclusive of everyone who cannot skate or walk through snow.

25th Annual Festival of Neighbourhoods Celebration

It is time to come together and celebrate! We are expecting you at Kitchener City Hall Rotunda on November 18, 1 to 3 pm. We will share stories and recognize the accomplishments of the neighbours who made their gatherings even more inclusive. Inclusion Challenge Recognitions will be made by the Independent Living Centre Waterloo Region, and we will draw two Neighbourhood Improvement Grants! There is a special announcement regarding the Neighbourhood Connection Award:

Reaching out across the diversity in our neighbourhoods is not easy but is so worth the effort and will enrich the community life in Kitchener

Trudy Beaulne

Wonderful supports received this year to make our celebratory event even more special:

  • Boehmers Hargest Block
  • Steed and Evans
  • Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association
  • Alejandra Ivic Re/Max Twin City Realty Inc.
  • Grand Valley Society of Architects
  • Strassburger
  • Mumbly Insurance
  • Swanson’s Home Hardware Building Centre
  • Freure Homes
  • Waterloo Regional Police Service
  • Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region

Great Neighbourhoods and the People Behind Them

You and your neighbours are invited to enjoy a fun afternoon with neighbourly people like you once you have registered a neighbourhood activity with the FoN. Read more in our September E Neighbour about the great Kitchener neighbourhoods and the people behind them! Whether your get-together was simple or elaborate, as long as it was inclusive of all your neighbours and allowed them to interact face to face, it is eligible for prizes and awards. To ensure that your activity qualifies your neighbourhood for the $20,000 capital improvement grant draws just give us a call or email. Register qualifying neighbourhood activities held between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018 with the Festival of Neighbourhoods before October 5, 2018. Join us at the Festival Finale at Kitchener City Hall on November 18 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm, when the draws for the $20,000 neighbourhood grants will be held and the winners announced.