That inclusivity pump is going to need some priming – but there is water in that well. Front Yard BBQ’s are good for all of us.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 23, 21012  The Inclusivity Team did their best to show the city how to hold a Front Yard BBQ – it was a start.  The best thing about the poorly attended event was the attitude and enthusiasm of the team of people who want to make this happen.

Lead by Inclusivity Advisory Committee chair Joanne Matthews and city hall Committee Clerk Andrea Holland, the team has taken a good idea and struggled with time constraints and basically no budget to get the idea from their desks into the public consciousness.  Not an easy task.

At times there were more waste recycling bins than people at the Front Yard BBQ event held at city hall - but this was just a first step. The enthusiasm of the Inclusivity team will take them beyond this first step.

The turnout  at city hall was – well,  let’s say that at one point there were more waste containers than there were people.  They did make up 200 hamburgers and there were plenty to take home.

The Mayor made an appearance and a number of staff people came out of city hall to get in on the free lunch..

From here it is onto the next step which is to get groups of people in the city to decide they want to hold a Front Yard BBQ and maybe expand it into a Streetfest – with traffic blocked and everyone on the street invited to show up and meet a neighbour.

They’ve got a lot of rules around these things – can’t walk across the street with a beer in your hand; need a street closure permit in some place and you’ve got to call city hall to find out where a permit is needed.

It would make a lot more sense for the city to produce a map for each ward and tell people that for this day or couple of days you can close the street but you have to let the police know.  And then set out the main thoroughfares that cannot be closed.  Most people know what is possible.  City hall needs to be part of the making it possible.  Council members have a small community budget – why couldn’t they use some of those funds to pay for the permits needed to close a street?

The Inclusivity Team from left to right: Judy Hyland; Susan Biggs; Ancilla Ho-Young; Andrea Holland; Isabelle Ekoko; Joanna Matthews. They brought energy and enthusiasm to the project.

Then this idea, a good idea, needs a bit of help Dave Auger, who tweets on behalf of CMD- Community Media Burlington – suggested that the real estate agents might be recruited to help get this idea off the ground.  An agent could pick a part of town they have done well with as agents and give something back by offering to help coordinate and get things going..  M&M Meats was a sponsor at the city hall kick-off event – they might be convinced to offer deep discounts to groups that plan a street event.

It can be done and if you take the enthusiasm that Holland and Matthews bring to idea – a couple of years from now the Inclusivity Committee can look back and admire the change they were able to bring about.

This is something new for Burlington.  Most people tend to stay in their back yards, BBQ with their friends and family and,  if there is a pool enjoy the day with the sounds of kids screeching away as they splash.

Moving that BBQ to the front lawn isn’t all that easy for many – they have the gas line hard wired into the BBQ – the things don’t move.

Bur these are all small hurdles that can be overcome with the right kind of community enthusiasm.  And that for Burlington is part of the problem, perhaps its biggest problem.  We are not unfriendly people – but we have let the suburban life style shut us away from our neighbours.

We will be following this one and supporting it.

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