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Residents reclaim laneway

RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin Axel Wedholm, 3, paints a birdhouse that will be placed along the fence of Lavender Lane as part of the neighbourhood revitalization project. The residents along the lane gathered for the second phase of the project to reclaim the space and create a greater sense of community. - Rachel Stern photo
RACHEL STERN/The News Bulletin Axel Wedholm, 3, paints a birdhouse that will be placed along the fence of Lavender Lane as part of the neighbourhood revitalization project. The residents along the lane gathered for the second phase of the project to reclaim the space and create a greater sense of community.
— image credit: Rachel Stern photo

South-end residents along Lavender Lane wanted change.

They wanted to reclaim their neighbourhood and create a sense of belonging.

It began with a conversation between a few residents. They started an initiative to clean up a derelict laneway between Needham and Watkins Street in Nanaimo’s South End. The lane ran behind their backyards and residents weren’t happy with the activities going on behind their homes.

Madilynn Rotar, who lives along the laneway, said the area was overgrown and it was attracting undesirable people to the area.

“We thought the only way to deal with that was to reclaim the property,” she said, adding the project allowed the neighbours to get to know each other.

The first neighbourhood cleanup was held in late July, with  neighbours completing the second phase of their project on Saturday.

“We had a derelict laneway, and derelict attracts derelict, and we decided that was enough,” said Angie Eyford, one of the neighbourhood project organizers.

She said the project is creating a huge sense of belonging and a sense of accomplishment for the residents involved.

“We’ve worked really hard on this,” she said.

On Saturday, residents were busy tilling soil, planting lavender and other flowers and painting fences to revamp the lane. Neighbourhood children painted birdhouses all morning to place along the fences.

“It’s all about building community and a sense of belonging,” said Eyford.

Brent Rotar, who was hard at work tilling soil for most of the morning, said the project is about reaching out to your immediate community and bridging the gap of community involvement.

“I think it is something that a lot of communities would like to do but they don’t have a method or tool for bridging the gap,” he said.

He said the project has started a domino effect and there are other residents living along nearby laneways who also want to do similar initiatives.

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