Edmonton neighbourhood Laurel gets its own community league

·2 min read
Pawan Khurma and Ricardo Casanova in a park in Laurel. Casanova is the president of the new Laurel Community League that was established on June 2.  (Tara McCarthy/CBC - image credit)
Pawan Khurma and Ricardo Casanova in a park in Laurel. Casanova is the president of the new Laurel Community League that was established on June 2. (Tara McCarthy/CBC - image credit)

Laurel, a newer neighbourhood in southeast Edmonton established in 2007 mirrors every other newer suburb on the city's outskirts.

Rows of mostly single-detached houses, the occasional park, lakes and ongoing construction on new-builds.

At the heart of the community are its members who have dedicated time, energy and ideas to make this neighbourhood the best it can be for its residents. Two such residents, Pawan Khurma and Ricardo Casanova have created the neighbourhood's own community league for future generations.

The Laurel Community League officially became a member of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues on June 2.

Casanova, who is president, said community leagues are important for building communities and making them safer.

"Just getting to know your neighbours and increasing that quality of life. So I really believe in community leagues and the EFCL, so I just wanted to be a part of it and help show a bit of leadership," he told CBC's Edmonton AM on Tuesday.

With Laurel, Edmonton now has 162 community leagues. Colin Johnson, the federation's deputy executive director says community leagues can be very beneficial, especially in suburban areas like Laurel that have very little amenities and places to gather.

"It provides a place for neighbours to gather and share their opinions," he said. "And alongside that comes the funding from the city for building that infrastructure, those amenities, and for running the programs."

In Edmonton, community leagues receive $15,000 from the city.

Tara McCarthy/CBC
Tara McCarthy/CBC

Casanova moved to Laurel just a few years ago from Terwillegar. Having previously served on the Meadows Community League, which covered his new neighbourhood Laurel, he reached out to the league again with an offer to help.

"They said 'actually Laurel needs their own community league and we need someone with board experience' and I was like 'ah, crap. OK, so, I guess that's what I'm doing now,'" he said.

Casanova is joined by Pawan Khurma, his vice-president and interim secretary. Khurma is one of the earliest residents of Laurel, having moved there in 2010, back when the neighbourhood was still large swaths of empty land.

"I have seen a lot of changes. I have seen the houses being built when there was like one-tenth of these houses in Laurel," he said.

Casanova said the beauty of the community is that it has people from all cultural, racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. He pointed to the field on 24th Street and 20th Avenue where he said there are often, "kids playing soccer; the uncles sitting around on the benches just chatting.

"It's a very vibrant community and family-focused," he said.

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