Five Characteristics of a Great Neighbourhood

Creating sustainable communities often requires a multi-faceted approach. Urban planning, transportation, and accessibility form the outer layers of a neighbourhood’s ecosystem. At its core are the people who live and work within the community. Thriving businesses, spaces to gather, culture, and social inclusion are characteristics that cultivate healthy communities.

When deciding what house to purchase, one of the first questions we ask is – where? The answer is not merely based on geographic location. People consider the following intrinsic traits of a community that could affect their family’s overall experience within the neighbourhood.


Fences, adequate lighting, proper exits and entrances, and accessible alleyways are some of the physical components needed for a safe neighbourhood. Another aspect involves feeling safe and having the peace of mind to let your kids play outside or take a stroll down the block. Knowing your neighbours and encouraging community connections are vital in fostering safety and security within the neighbourhood.

One of the leading safety concerns in established neighbourhoods is the increasing number of abandoned and derelict properties. The goal of the Edmonton Community Development Company’s (ECDC) Project 10 initiative is to address this safety issue by demolishing these buildings and eliminating the potential fire and criminal activities that transpire within these properties.

Community Involvement

Residents are empowered when they feel they are a part of something. Social cohesion speaks to the truest sense of community as people come together for a common purpose. Gathering spaces and neighbourhood activities are essential in promoting community engagement and allowing residents an opportunity to create positive relationships.

The story of The Piazza is a testament to the power of what social cohesion can accomplish. Residents often called the Edmonton Police Service to the problematic strip mall to address issues such as drug trafficking. With the support of ECDC and the determination of the McCauley residents, over $1.1 million were raised within 20 days to turn this strip mall into a rejuvenated commercial property. This shows the incredible trust the community members have for one another, the strong commitment they share to improve their neighbourhood, and the willingness of people to put up their own money for a shared purpose.


Many communities are composed of people from different ethnicities, income levels, ages, and family dynamics. A good neighbourhood ensures there are programs and activities that cater to everyone. People want to feel welcomed into their community regardless of their background. 
The Alberta Avenue Community League, one of the communities ECDC supports, has the mandate to ensure that all its programs cater to residents from all walks of life. Their success can be attributed to their commitment to their vision - “a caring and inclusive community where everyone is empowered to shape their future.”


Long commutes are thieves of time as people are starting to gravitate towards the convenience of their location. They want to be able to move around the neighbourhood and find everything they need within a short distance. Whether it’s a trail to walk the dog, a supermarket to stock up on groceries, or a restaurant for a night out, a good neighbourhood has all these amenities within a 15-minute perimeter.

Inner-city neighbourhoods such as McCauley and Alberta Avenue have excellent walkability scores, where most errands can be done by foot or bike. Leaving less carbon footprint and increasing physical activity are some benefits of having many amenities within walking distance. It also promotes a greater sense of community spirit as residents enjoy more time within their neighbourhoods and shop local businesses.

Housing Options

For those with different lifestyles and family dynamics, a good neighbourhood should offer a mix of housing options, including low-rise apartments and single-family homes. Additionally, this will allow people to find a home within their budget range.

The ECDC’s Project 10 initiative strives to deliver more housing options as they demolish problem properties in underserved neighbourhoods and build new homes for families to purchase. They currently have two front-to-back duplexes in the market and a four-plex under construction in Eastwood. As the ECDC acquires more problem properties, they plan to build basement suites in each unit so people can have them for extended families or rental income opportunities.

Community economic development is the building block of creating a neighbourhood people want to live in. Supporting the neighbourhood residents is just as important as investing in their infrastructure. The environment in which these residents live influence their quality of life. With their community-driven approach to redevelopment, the ECDC aims to uphold these five qualities in the mature neighbourhoods they work in, such as McCauley and Alberta Avenue. 

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