Friday, July 8, 2011

The Changing Faces Of St Johns Houses

The St Johns area of the North End is a very diverse piece of property. It seems each street has its own characteristics. When I first started delivering the summer Newsletters along Redwood Ave, I was surprised with the number of boarded houses I was passing.
Then as I got closer to Mountain Ave the boarded houses were replaced with lock boxes and the occasional "For Sale" sign. That ended on the next street over. By the time I made it to the area surrounding Peanut Park and housing St Johns High School and Ralph Brown Community Center and Elementary School I was in a different area again. It seemed to be predominantly single family bungalows with very few fences. I don't know if you are familiar with the Coen Brothers movie "A Simple Man", but they could almost have filmed the movie on those streets, showing the classic row of bungalows and clean cut lawns with no fences to shut people out.
Then I moved another few streets and was back to two story houses, duplexes and four-plexes. Along with the change in housing structure came a slight increase in "For Sale" signs, and a few more lock boxes.
If I were to analyze the correlation between house design and crime, I would have to say the single family bungalows appear to show lower crime indicators. There are fewer unkempt yards and likely higher proportions of owner occupied homes, providing longer term residents who care for their properties to a better extent.
But, no matter what the predominant architecture of the neighbourhood, each area had both good and bad houses. Mountain Ave, with its boarded houses, still had well maintained great looking houses. The movie set area of single family bungalows had the odd house in need of serious loving care. There were great gardens found all through the neighbourhood, as well as wonderful outdoor sitting areas where residents could relax and enjoy the summer.
As I made my way through the neighbourhood, I talked to folks. I heard stories, both good and bad, from the residents. Some have concerns regarding neighbours, others worked in positive ways to make their streets a better place.
In the end, I am glad I spent the week walking through the neighbourhood, meeting people and talking with them. I hope to do more of that in the future. And I hope to see everyone out at our next meeting on August 17. It will be at the Ralph Brown Community Center, 7pm. Daycare will be provided.
I look forward to seeing you all again.

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