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Despite Inflation and Other Barriers, Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal is Supporting Low-Income Families

From Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal's Facebook - the Strong Towns event, a joint effort from the Reimagine the Elmwood initiative and the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association to provide an opportunity for residents, local businesses, and community leaders to gather and discuss strategies for enhancing the local community.

For many in Winnipeg, there is anxiety and fear, with stories of violence and crime often feeling like the norm. There isn’t much to feel optimistic about with crumbling streets, failing businesses, and reduced funding for community initiatives and projects. 

However, Winnipeggers aren’t taking this lying down with grassroots movements of individuals and organizations who are enthusiastically engaged in improving the quality of life for their neighbours and communities. Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation (CNRC) is one such organization, working to support in whatever way they can. 

Located in Winnipeg’s Elmwood community and based out of the Elmwood EK Active Living Centre, CNRC supports the residents of Chalmers and the broader Elmwood area through revitalization efforts, green and efficiency services, safety patrols, and community engagement events. Leilani Esteban-Villarba, CNRC’s executive director, says the organization started as a Neighbourhoods Alive! project, a “long-term community-based social and economic strategy” for urban revitalization established by the Manitoba Government in 2000.

“Neighbourhoods Alive! looked into the communities that were most at risk and most vulnerable and created designations. We’re one of those designations from about ten years ago. So we’re one of the newer renewal corporations.”

Since then, Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation has been steadily growing, creating safer, more beautiful communities, developing active transportation, and other needs within the area. 

“We’re talking about prevalent needs. We’re talking about food security, we’re talking about housing, we’re talking about neighbourhood revitalization and safety concerns, and we’re talking about climate,” says Esteban-Villarba.

In terms of energy efficiency, CNRC is reducing greenhouse gasses through the energy efficiency program. This is in partnership with Efficiency Manitoba and operated by CNRC’s energy efficiency advocate. This role supports the community by helping it achieve its sustainability goals and connecting communities with experts and initiatives that help lower energy consumption and empower citizens. Amy Wood, CNRC’s energy efficiency advocate and community connector, says there are still a lot of barriers to overcome, and awareness of what’s available is a big one. 

“One thing I’ve been looking into recently with Efficiency Manitoba is everyone in the Chalmers neighbourhood is able to get a free house assessment and possibly get free insulation brought into their house. That will help bring down energy costs. But it’s an offer that sounds almost too good to be true. There are people on Facebook who are asking if that’s true and asking if I should trust these people. That sort of thing.”

There are some homes in the area where a reduced energy bill could go a long way, so Woods is looking at ways to best connect with the community and inform them of what is available. 

Food is another significant area of programming CNRC focuses on. “We’ve got better access to groceries, which addresses our food security issues,” says Esteban-Villarba. Food initiatives are incredibly important for low-income communities. As prices surge, fewer people can access high-quality, healthy foods and begin to look towards cheaper alternatives. These alternatives may not be best for the individual. The Chalmers area is a food desert where most people do not have grocers within walking distance, a significant barrier for those who are mobility challenged, don’t have access to a car, or can’t take the bus. The Better Access To Groceries program provides the community with options at their convenience. As prices increase, it’s becoming increasingly tricky for CNRC to meet the food needs of the community. 

But Chalmers Neighbourhood renewal is making efforts to meet people where their needs are and engaging individuals to create a safe and inclusive space, a solution to making a community better. 

According to Charity Strange, CNRC executive assistant, they’ve recently completed a five-year action plan, a plan that gauges community feedback to develop exactly the programs the community needs. One of those needs is increased connectivity and unity. So, for the first time, CNRC will be celebrating Pride Month, but that’s just the start, with several businesses and organizations coming together to revitalize the area, taking an abandoned gas station and turning it into a community space. 

With events on the way, plans to plant dozens of trees, and show the community what is possible if they work together, the Chalmers Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation team is optimistic things can change. 

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Community Focus: Manitoba Filipino Seniors Group Promoting well-being among both the young and elderly members of the community while preserving Filipino culture is a key aspect of the Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg (FSGW). FSGW hosted the first Seniors Sports Fest last March, featuring popular games, including pool, darts, chess and Filipino Sungka. The efforts promoted socialization,Continue Reading

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