EMC News – A Sandy Hill community association is crediting the overwhelming success of its annual fall barbecue to the work of a new committee dedicated to fostering better relations between residents and university students living in the area.
The Sept. 15 barbecue, organized by Action Sandy Hill, is a means to introduce homeowners, renters and students to one another and to keep everyone up to date with the goings-on in the neighbourhood.
At the association’s monthly meeting on Sept. 24, the fall barbecue committee reported a record breaking 1,179 hamburger and hot dog were consumed at the event.
Action Sandy Hill board member Claire MacDonald credited the success of the barbecue to a door-knocking campaign the week before the event which saw the association, community partners, police, bylaw officers, Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury’s office and the University of Ottawa out in the neighbourhood spreading the word to students about safe behaviours, being a good neighbour and the dangers of alcohol consumption.
“You can see in the numbers we got at the barbecue that the campaign was effective,” MacDonald said.
The campaign is the product of a new pilot project, called a town and gown committee, which formed to address issues in the university neighbourhood.
The fall campaign was part of the committee’s September strategy, which was all about educating the students about the neighbourhood, the city’s garbage schedules and bylaw information.
The fall barbecue is just one of the methods the association uses to reach out to new and returning students in the neighbourhood.
In the past, association president Christopher Collmorgen said the board would conduct a door-knocking campaign, but this year was the first time the campaign involved 20 students from the university. That peer-to-peer communication was something the board said was missing in the past.
“The success of the barbecue is evidence of our momentum,” he said.
The barbecue is funded through donations from local business, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa and the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre. The rest is covered by the association.
The effect of a larger turnout at the event this year was absorbed by the association.
“We need to think about more donations next year,” said François Bregha, secretary for the board.
“It was an impressive event, but we need to think about setting a budget because this is the kind of success that could bankrupt us.”
Board members committed to setting up a permanent committee, with a budget and check list for next year’s event.
The town and gown committee plans on meeting three times a year, with sub-committees meeting more frequently. The next official meeting for the committee is set for November.