Buying a house in Calgary? Look at the fence for community engagement

When deciding on a community to buy your house in, look to the fence to find out how connected the neighbours are.  I never gave it any thought until I heard a speaker talk about it and how it relates to community.

I was at Cornerstone Youth Centre’s 10th anniversary dinner which showed appreciation for all the volunteers who helped in the past 10 years. The Cornerstone is a building in the Mayland Heights community which is a go-to place for teens to get help with homework, hang out, enrich their skills and form friendships. It’s a great community just for teens.

At the event, we had Pat Nixon, founder of The Mustard Seed, a place for people without homes, as one of the speakers. He brought up a very important point about fences and how it affects community.

Way back when, properties were enclosed with picket fences. These were about 2.5 to 3 feet high and you can see through the slats into your neighbour’s IMG_5253yard. Heck you can see over the fence, call your neighbour over and have a conversation. Way back then, neighbours knew neighbours, they knew their kids and sometimes (unfortunately) knew their problems too. Kids could go to the neighbours to play with their kids or to the parents if they needed help. That was great, since that’s what happened in the community.

Just recently, I called someone in to give me a quote on redoing my fence. I told him I wanted it 6 feet high with no space in between the slats, also called a fortress fence.  I wanted privacy and maybe if the little dogs next door can’t see me in the back yard, they won’t be barking at me all the time. Besides, most of my neighbours had the nice cedar, 6 foot fence and well, I guess I need to keep up with them, don’t I?

Well, at the dinner, Nixon made a very important point about our new choice in fortress fences. The high fence with tight together slats provides privacy, although it also creates a barrier to getting to know your neighbour. He said that 96% of people don’t know their neighbour. When you don’t know your neighbour, how do you help build community?

At the Cornerstone Youth Centre, Nixon said that since this connection is lacking where they live, this is the place they can get it. This is where they can play with other kids, talk about their problems and feel connected.

Where my house is, I know my neighbours across the street and across the alley. I know my neighbours to the east, since their boy loves to come over and play with mine. And the neighbour to the west I’ve yet to meet since they just moved in. I’m still going to get my fortress fence, although I’ll be sure to invite my neighbours over to the other side of this great wall to create community.

So when buying a house in Calgary, remember to look at the fence!

Post comment