The Williamsburg Neighbourhood
If you follow Fischer-Hallman Road and turn west on Bleams, you’ll discover something special. Or rather, someplace special.
What you’ll find, is Williamsburg, one of Kitchener’s loveliest neighbourhoods. In the corner of southwest Kitchener, Williamsburg is growing rapidly – to be sure, the entirety of southwest Kitchener is – yet it has managed to retain its almost quaint, village-like ambiance.
Developed by Schlegel Urban Developments in the 1980s, the Williamsburg Town Centre was indeed planned based on a ‘Village Concept,’ which promoted both social interaction and the local availability of services and amenities. But Williamsburg itself is not the primary subject of today’s article.
Today, we here at WRX Property Group will be discussing the Williamsburg Community Association.
First of all, we’d like to thank Laura Shaver for taking the time to discuss the community with us: thank you, Laura Shaver! Shaver moved to the Williamsburg area in 2004, and at that time, her part of the neighbourhood had not been fully developed yet.
In the years since, Shaver has witnessed the neighbourhood grow and expand, as more and more families, individuals, and businesses fell for the Williamsburg charm. Shaver serves as the Williamsburg Community Association Program Manager.
Williamsburg Community Association
Let’s introduce today’s acronym (there’s always at least one, isn’t there?): instead of Williamsburg Community Association, from now on it’ll be simply the WCA. So – what is the WCA?
Throughout Kitchener-Waterloo, there are multiple Neighbourhood (or Community) Associations, which serve the residents of particular neighbourhoods with a variety of offerings and facilities.
The WCA formed in 2008, making it one of the newer Neighbourhood Associations in Kitchener-Waterloo. Getting at the heart of the WCA’s purpose, Shaver says, “Our goal is to develop closer relationships among the residents.”
And isn’t that what turns a neighbourhood into a community; a house into a home?
The WCA works with residents, businesses, and partners to foster a sense of community, and to provide the best quality of life for everyone in the neighbourhood.
One of the ways they ensure this is by providing an open forum for community members to voice their opinions and concerns: everyone in Williamsburg has a voice, and every voice matters.
Board meetings are open to the public, and they are held at the Williamsburg Community Centre.
WCA & City of Kitchener
Like all Neighbourhood Associations, the WCA works in partnership with the City of Kitchener. As Shaver says, “We plan our own programming and our own budgets, but the City graciously let's us use the facility that we use for our classes.” Furthermore, it was a City of Kitchener initiative that got the WCA started.
Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock was first elected to the City of Kitchener Council in 2006, representing Ward 5. She was instrumental in forming the WCA and securing its current headquarters and primary facility, the Williamsburg Community Centre.
Galloway-Sealock sent messages out to the community and recruited a team of Williamsburg volunteers, who set to work establishing by-laws and policies, and determining the WCA’s Executive Board.
Since 2008, the WCA has truly blossomed, and notably, several current board members were among the initial 2008 founders.
As Shaver says, “We definitely have a committed volunteer base.”
As noted, the WCA runs primarily out of the Williamsburg Community Centre, which is located at 1187 Fischer-Hallman Road, in the Williamsburg Town Centre (Hours: Monday 9:00 – 8:45; Tuesday-Thursday 9:00 – 7:45; Friday 9:00 – 6:00; Saturday & Sunday vary).
Some programs are held here, and it is available for private rental for meetings or special events. There are also two, public-access computers here. The Williamsburg Community Centre is notably smaller than many other Community Centres – it is essentially one large room (and the room is not a gym).
But the WCA is resourceful. Shaver says, “We actually use all three schools in our neighbourhood for our programming.” The WCA rents gyms from each of the schools, ensuring that programs can run throughout the week.
What sort of programming do they offer? I’m glad you asked!
The WCA works in conjunction with the neighbouring Huron Community Association on two special programs. The first is a babysitting class, and the second is a home-alone safety class. For neighbourhoods like these (perfect for families), it’s great to see family-specific, safety-oriented classes.
For the most part, the WCA’s programs are run separate from Huron, though. The WCA has programs for residents of all ages. They offer kids’ sports (basketball and soccer), karate, and even Zumba Kids.
Both children and adults (ages 10+) can take part in guitar lessons, both beginner and intermediate (see how to play that C chord, whether you’re a grownup or A minor).
Indeed, there are plenty of general interest classes to choose from, including: chess club; the Artful Storybook (create your own story!); More than a Princess (young girls dressed as princesses participating in not-so-princessy activities); Ballet; Math assistance and Homework Club; and much more.
Adults need not feel left out, as there are various Yoga classes (from Prenatal to Power) to a ‘Get More from Your iPad’ class. There are free ESL programs for residents looking to either improve their English skills or learn the basics.
The WCA has also featured a Discovery Walk to explore different City Parks and nature reserves within Kitchener-Waterloo. What Shaver says is true: “We try to offer as wide a range as we can.” And by the looks of it, they’ve succeeded.
WCA Going Forward
What does the future look like for Williamsburg and the WCA? Well, in a word, it looks good. For starters, a new Community Centre is in the works: the City of Kitchener has plans and the proposed location for a full-size, fully-equipped community centre, which will likely be shared with the Huron community.
Councillor Galloway-Sealock is working to bring these plans to fruition. Also on the horizon are a brand-new park with a splash pad and sports fields, a library, a pool, and even more sports facilities. With the new community centre in particular, the WCA will truly be able to offer spectacular community programs.
For now, the WCA is looking to expand its current event offerings. One successful event, recently, was Neighbours Day, which saw Williamsburg residents participating in a neighbourhood-wide garage sale in the morning, park activities in the afternoon, and movies and a food truck in the evening.
As Shaver says, “free fun” – a great way to bring the community together. So if you’re looking to move to one of the fastest growing parts of Kitchener-Waterloo, check out Williamsburg, and their ever-active Community Association.
Full Interview With Laura Shaver of WCA
Written by Will Kummer