by Yule Heibel on February 10, 2005

Let’s say you’re newly elected to a neighbourhood association board, and you learn that ~70% of residents in your neighbourhood are home-renters, not home-owners, and that your neighbourhood association membership consists of just a very few home-owners. (All those mansions the neighbourhood is famous for were converted to apartments long ago, and we all live cheek-to-jowl now, renting, mortgaged, owning, whatever! Yet keep in mind that the eagle-eye of the developers is on communities like this: we’re practically right downtown, and we have lots of curb-appeal…) Now, let’s add that you learn that membership in your neighbourhood association is only somewhere around 10%. To reach the residents (owners and renters), you have a newsletter, and you have leafletting. You have a website, too. Any ideas specifically for convincing renters to claim a stake, or even for getting their attention in the first place?


maria February 11, 2005 at 2:40 am

Well, I am really tired tonight, so I might just be rambling here, but I think that one way to appeal to both homeowners and renters is to make them aware of some threat to their status quo. To remind them that if they don’t get involved, they may not be the ones in charge to control (or decide about) the ways in which changes in the neighbourhood will affect them. Make them aware of the threat of change and remind them of their power to direct it.

Of course, this has to be put in brief terms to them, with just enough punch to get them motivated.

I don’t know if this helps … and, without the specific issues involved, it’s hard to be more on target in terms of strategy for this one. But, I ahve a hunch, that stressing who is in control might be the ticket…

Yule Heibel February 12, 2005 at 5:53 pm

The control issue is definitely a point of entry, with the only caveat being that the neighbourhood association itself has no political control, as such. What it can do, however, is provide information — act as a clearing-house — which in turn gives power to those who then choose to act on that information, indirectly offering them some mechanism of control in their lives.

I’m still not sure how to engage more people in this association. Even the home owners are cool to tepid, at best. What we’re threatened by is on the one hand development, and on the other, a kind of laissez-faire attitude toward bylaws. Yesterday, a neighbour told me that the over the xmas interval, city had arbitrarily redefined “bus” to mean vehicles over 28.5 feet long, which meant tourist buses marked “grayline” and measuring 28 feet long were allowed to cruise past her house on Joan Crescent on their way to Craigdarroch Castle, even though that road is supposed to be (according to bylaw) off-limits to bus traffic. That’s the sort of thing Victorianites get all the time: the city asking us, in the name of accomodating the tourism industry behemoth, to take it up the backside. Next to government (Victoria is BC’s capital), tourism calls the shots around here. It makes residents really angry. That, and development which doesn’t take neighbourhood plans into account. Victoria (unlike Vancouver, say) doesn’t seem to have fast & binding neighbourhood bylaws, just individually circumnavigable “variances,” and it drives many people nuts. The renters, squeezed by an 800-lb. gorilla of a real estate market, are too shell-shocked half the time to get worked up over what they perceive as basically NIMBY issues, alas. 😉

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