City celebrates good neighbours
Two dozen residents recognized
Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 06:00 am
Shawn Lemay knows the value of good icebreakers. If he isn’t out chatting up the people who live on his block, he’s out there with a chipper trying to give spring a running start.
“When we had the mild weather not too long ago, we were breaking up the ice trying to push the water through the drains,” he said. “We did one side of the street. All of the water was getting jammed. It was an ice breaking day.”
If it’s not the ice, then it’s the snow. He’s the kind of guy that everyone wants as a neighbour: with a snowblower, he can clear several driveways from a daytime snowfall, often before people even get home from work.
“Sometimes I rush home from work to try to beat them. They get a kick out of it!” he says.
Such demonstrations of neighbourliness have earned him nicknames like “the mayor of the street” or “the neighbourhood watch.” He gets a kick out of that.
Lemay was just one of two dozen individuals who were honoured during the city’s Celebrating Good Neighbours event, held on Thursday, March 26. Angie Dedrick, the neighbourhood development co-ordinator with the city’s Family and Community Support Services department, explained that the program is an important way of building a stronger city as it encourages people to be engaged and connected in their neighbourhoods.
Dedrick considers the celebration one of the perks of her job.
“Part of doing that work is sharing good stories when we hear about people who are doing that kind of thing. Sometimes it’s just helping kids get their pant leg unstuck from their bike chain or to fix a broken fence. Sometimes it’s just looking after your house when you’re away. We want to share those stories so that we can inspire others to do the same.”
Avery and Jarod Letendre are the neighbours who put Lemay’s name forward for the appreciation. Having him on the street has been really great, Avery says, because he’s reliable, approachable and always willing to lend a helping hand.
“Shawn is always up to help out. It being a new street, he’s helped a couple of the neighbours – including us – with laying sod. He and his wife have been really active in bringing the community together.”
She added that the Lemays host campfires at their house and Christmas parties for the neighbourhood.
“They’re quite helpful. Shawn is particularly good at promoting safety in the neighbourhood too, putting out a sign on the street that says, ‘Children are playing – drive slowly.’”
As far as Lemay is concerned, good relations between neighbours simply makes life better. It might take a bit more work in today’s busy day and age, he says, but the results make it all worthwhile.
“There are so many positives. When you know who your neighbours are … it does a lot for community building,” he continued.
“It really does work. It does a lot to protect the neighbourhood too, in terms of preventing crime, keeping the neighbourhood clean and safe and welcoming for not only the residents but people that are coming to visit too. You can’t put a price tag on that. It’s absolutely huge.”
“It gives me a lot of hope for St. Albert. St. Albert is a great place to live. I know there are some challenges in every neighbourhood but there are also some really good things happening.”
The city’s website states that the Celebrating Good Neighbours initiative honours “the self-less effort of individuals that help create connected, friendly and safe communities. They might be the neighbourhood handy-person, the senior who takes time to talk to children and youth, the youth who helps mow your lawn or rake your leaves, or the family that takes care for your home when you are away.”