›› Michael Hill

It’s almost spring and time to start thinking about improvement projects! While for many of us that means projects around the home, there may be something you can do to make your neighbourhood a little ­better. The My Great Neighbourhood Grant program opens on April 1 and it could be the perfect fit for funding your ideas.

The program was launched in 2016 to encourage projects in the community that add to the quality of neighbourhood life and help build stronger social ­connections. Since then, over 250 projects have been completed through the program. If you have ideas for improving spaces (e.g. a mural) or strengthening community resiliency (e.g. food hamper program) you could qualify for up to $5,000 in matching funding. If you prefer to organize an activity (e.g. ­reconciliation event, your first block party) you can apply for up to $1,000.

Fernwood has completed many projects with the support of the grant. The lights over Fernwood Square and Gladstone Avenue have brightened up nights in the village and several murals were installed last summer during the Fernwood Mural Festival. You don’t have to take on a big project to participate in this program. If you want to put up a modest little library on your block, you may only need a few hundred dollars and a weekend workshop with your neighbours!

A good place to look for ideas is the City’s ­VicMap. It includes a map showing many of the placemaking projects funded through this program—go to vicmap.maps.arcgis.com and search for ‘Placemaking Grant Projects’. You will find photos of projects and where they are located in our neighbourhoods. You can see that there are tried and true ideas, as well as examples of creative projects to stimulate your imagination.

The City has also recently introduced a Placemaking Toolkit which has loads of ideas, inspiration, and guidance for doing projects in neighbourhoods. The guide includes a catalogue of City-approved outdoor furniture, paint, and lighting options that might make your planning a little easier. You can find the Toolkit at engage.victoria.ca/placemaking-toolkit.

If you are interested in exploring this opportunity, contact me to discuss it at mhill@victoria.ca. I am happy to work with you to find a way to bring your idea to fruition. We want you to be successful in bringing another community project to your neighbourhood.

Residents must match the funding request with volunteer time and in-kind donations. Applications are reviewed monthly and funding is usually provided a few weeks after approval. The application period closes on October 31, but you have a year to complete your project so don’t let the application period pass you by!