FCSS kicks off Saturday Driveway initiative

·3 min read

Hinton’s Family and Community

Support Services (FCSS) is

encouraging Hintonites to get

outside in the spring air and visit

a neighbour as part of the new

Saturday Driveway initiative.

For those who want to participate,

all they have to do is set up some

lawn chairs and maybe a propane

campfire in their front yard and

wait for a neighbour to come by

for a visit. People can freely decide

if they’d like to go walking around

their neighbourhood on a Saturday

afternoon or evening with a curiosity

if they’ll encounter a host.

“The number one goal is always

going to be social connection. We

recognize that we’re having less

in-person conversations than we

probably did prior to the pandemic.

We just appreciate how important it

is to talk to other people,” said Lisa

Brett, FCSS community connections

coordinator.

Secondly, the initiative is

about building neighbourhoods,

Brett added. FCSS hopes this

neighbourhood project will help

strengthen trusting relationships

between neighbours.

“A lot of us don’t know our

neighbours. So this is an opportunity

to introduce ourselves and if we do

know our neighbours then this is an

opportunity to build on that,” Brett

said.

The Saturday Driveway initiative

kicks off this

Saturday, March 6,

and FCSS hopes to

promote it for the

next three months.

Brett hopes the

initiative will help

individuals get

used to the idea

of hanging out in

their front yard on

Saturday afternoons

and evenings, being

neighbourly, and

respecting COVID-19

restrictions.

Hinton’s FCSS

reached out to

St. Albert who

had a similar project early in the

pandemic, and they shared their

positive experience and resources.

Brett noted the initiative can play

an important role in combating

isolation that has become more

prevalent the past year.

“I recognize you can be isolated

and not feel lonely. In other

scenarios people feel lonely where

they’re feeling more empty and

separated and that emotion can be

quite powerful,” Brett said.

Positive interactions among

neighbours can also help individuals

feel safer in their neighbourhood

and realize they can

rely on a neighbour

in an emergency, she

added.

She hopes the

idea will help the

community stave

off loneliness, foster

connection, and

boost happiness

in a time where

everybody is

pulling back due

to government

mandated COVID-19

restrictions. People

can now gather

with a group up

to 10 while social

distancing and wearing masks.

“It’s just really about sparking an

idea in people rather than telling

them what to do. This might only

attract certain people or certain

personalities but the outcomes are

unknown. It’s a hopeful project,

it’s about kindness and being

welcoming to all people,” Brett said.

The Town offers posters to

promote the initiative and also one

that individuals could hang on

their door or mailbox to let others

know when they will be hosting a

Saturday Driveway event.

Hintonites can participate on

their own and self-manage their

driveway event.

“There’s a lot of freedom and

liberty involved as long as they

recognize that we’re still under

COVID-19 [restrictions],” Brett said.

RCMP and Fire Department are

aware of the project and COVID-19

restrictions were also considered

when putting the concept together.

A portable fire pit is permissible

but if someone chooses to have a real

fire, they must read the fire bylaw

link on hinton.ca/fcss and adhere to

its fire safety precautions.

Posters to participate are available

at the FCSS office to pick up or for

print from the Town of Hinton

website.

The principle way to know if

someone is hosting a Saturday

Driveway is that a participant is

visibly set up in their driveway or

front yard welcoming neighbours to

stroll by and have a chat.

Being masked and remaining

six feet apart must be part of the

interactions. Currently, outdoor

gatherings allow up to 10 people.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice