It’s a Thursday evening in mid-January and eight members of the Bedford Residents Association are at Sobeys on the Bedford Highway around a table in the community meeting room. (It’s just past the milk aisle, if you’re ever looking for it). On the white board is a list they’ve created titled Bedford 2020 Vision. Under it are words like “diverse,” “sustainable,” “safe,” “bikeable,” “connected” and “inclusive.”
This may only be the third meeting since the community-directed non-profit’s three-year hiatus, but it’s clear they have high hopes for what Bedford can become. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for residents and encourage a sense of belonging and pride in the community.
In the group’s first incarnation, it tried to fulfill this mission by promoting and being part of community events (holding annual general meetings with guest speakers on safety, Lyme disease and other topics) and acting as an information hub and advocate for issues important to the community, such as the fate of the waterfront.
“It just felt that there was no voice for Bedford, that we were kind of lost within the bigger HRM,” says Kevin Doran, the current director of the association who was also a part of it as a member at large back when it started in the fall of 2010. “So we just thought that maybe a bunch of us can get together so that the community has a voice at community councils or wherever it happens to be, and we can say, ‘Look, we have these issues here in Bedford, and we want to be heard.’”
Bedford-Wentworth Councillor Tim Outhit has worked with the association before.
“They certainly kept my feet to the fire, I can tell you,” says Outhit, who’s also the association’s ex-officio. “I came and presented to them on occasion, and when they wanted more facilities and infrastructure and had concerns about taxation, etc., it certainly was a group that had my attention.”
The members have established four new goals for the recent incarnation of the association: fostering an environment where residents feel connected to the community, becoming a forum to engage residents and raise awareness about important issues, collaborating with local groups and other levels of government, and working with elected officials on issues important to residents.
To realize these goals, they need to hear from people across Bedford and recruit more members to be a part of the voice around this table. “Bedford has become a multi-community,” says Donna Lugar, the past chairperson and one of the key people in getting the association going again. “There’s Eaglewood, Ridgevale, Bedford West, Bedford South. So there’s all these little communities, and now we’re hoping to bring them all together.”
Co-chair Ed Grant agrees. “This is very much an evolution, and we want to continue to define it,” he says before drawing the meeting to a close. “One of the words that’s up on the white board there is “inclusive,” and that’s what we want to make sure we’re doing.”