Developing relationships with the people living around you has many advantages

Do you know your neighbours? Do you know what they look like? Do you know their names?

Since moving to Coventry Hills six years ago, Cindy and Micah Johnstone have developed friendships with their neighbours.

When the married couple first moved in, a neighbour came by and said hello. It was through that one friendly encounter that Cindy and Micah met other neighbours on their street.

When the Johnstones moved in, the community was still under development. This encouraged the neighbours to pitch in and help each other out.

“Over the course of the summer we had deck parties, we helped build fences and we held dinner parties,” Cindy said. “There were 10 or 12 of us bouncing around the different houses.”Cindy Johnstone not only knows her neighbours, but considers them to be good friends.
Photo: Corinne Sato

Acting Sergeant Stu Simpson, Calgary Police Service crime prevention team, said that knowing your neighbours has many advantages.

“It creates friendships,” he said. “It’s a form of crime prevention, and it helps people grow a sense of community to look after each other.”

He said the police encourage people to know what is going on around their homes.

“We don’t consider people being nosy – just observant,” Simpson said, adding that he advises people of being aware of who is in your neighbourhood.

“When someone looks out of place or suspicious, call the police,” he said.

Micah recalls having a neighbour phone him once about people around Micah’s property.

 {acepolls 10}

“I think the neighbour two houses down was a stay-at-home mom, so she was around all the time,” he said. “She noticed that there was an odd car in front of our house, and saw someone coming in and out of our house. I think she called and said, ‘I noticed a different vehicle parked in front of your house. Is everything okay?’”

Micah said he told his neighbour that everything was fine – the different vehicle was owned by his parents, who happened to be visiting.

Simpson said that the police advocate preventative measures – knowing your neighbours is a tool to prevent crime.

“By taking the time and making an effort to meet your neighbours, you’re creating a strong sense of community,” he said.

Knowing your neighbours can also be advantageous when requiring assistance.

Tim Haney, an urban sociology professor at Mount Royal University, agreed.

“Knowing people in your neighbourhood is important, particularly when you need something,” he said.

On the Johnstone’s street neighbours rely on each other for help or advice.

“We puppy sit for neighbours three doors down, and they puppy sit our dog,” Cindy said.

Brad Creamer, a friend of the Johnstones, said, “My neighbours will shovel my walk and watch over the place when I am out of town.”

In a crisis situation, it is even more important to know your neighbours.

“In catastrophes, crisis and disasters, one thing that we find quite common is that when people are better connected, they have better outcomes through a crisis situation,” Haney said.

“Living in a well-connected community helps you get through an event quicker and better,” he said.

With all the support the neighbours give to each other, it’s no wonder that Cindy and Micah like living on their street.

“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” said Cindy.

csato@cjournal.ca