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Making a Connected Grande Prairie

My first week in Grande Prairie did not go well.

Disaster had struck and our new house had tens of thousands of dollars in damage. My new job was proving to be very stressful. And my new city had no disc golf course. I thought I could fix one of those problems.

I went for a drive to scout potential disc golf course locations. I was driving around town when I saw a big group carrying discs. I immediately pulled a u-turn, zoomed up to them, and screeched to a hault. I rolled down my window and yelled “ARE YOU GUYS PLAYING DISC GOLF!?” I probably came off a bit strong.

This group became my first friends in Grande Prairie. We played disc golf on an improvised course. We worked together to form the Grande Prairie Disc Golf Course. We asked the City to partner with us and build a real course. Canfor let us use some of their land. Many businesses donated towards the course, and a bunch of people put in time and energy. Today, thousands of people have enjoyed the Thrill Hill Disc Golf Course.

Disc golf has been great for me. It is has provided me with friends. It has allowed me to work with others to make our community better. It also provides a great picture of connection.

A connected city is difficult to define, but it is something most people want. In a connected city:

  • We know our neighbours
  • We have opportunities to make friends throughout the city
  • We know what is going on in our community
  • We say “I’m going home” when we come to GP, no matter where we grew up
  • We have freedom, resources, and partners to pursue the causes we are passionate about
  • We know what our government is up to
  • We know that our input effects government decisions

Connection stimulates sustainability and livability. When neighbours know each other, a community thrives. Connected neighbours provide each other with help- whether it is building a deck, contributing to mental health, or keeping an eye out for crime. Connected neighbourhoods work together to advocate for good government policy. And connected communities create a climate where the non-profits which deliver vital services can thrive.

In my last post, I talked about connection to City Council. But connection isn’t only something Council does. It is also something Council can foster. It can do this by creating a sustainable and livable city (more on those later). After all, people have troubles connecting with neighbours and community when they are focused on just getting by. Council also creates connection through the spaces and opportunities it makes available to citizens.

I've got some thoughts about how to make Grande Prairie more connected. I'll be sharing those. But for now, I’d love to hear from you.

What do you think it takes to make a connected city? What are some of the best things creating connection in Grande Prairie? What can the next Council work on to help us be more connected? Let me know. Comment on this post, give me a call or email, or post this on Facebook and tag me.