Published on September 21, 2021

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

Photo Description: Gary Durie stands on Sonora Drive holding his Good Neighbour Recognition Certificate.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, no one was immune to its effects, including the residents of Sonora Drive. The sights of happy neighbours congregating at each other’s doorsteps was quickly replaced with closed shutters and lonely porches.

“It’s funny, you don’t realize how lucky you are until something is gone,” says Gary Durie, a resident of Sonora Drive, when recounting the 41 years of fond memories he has connecting with his neighbours there. 

And as the pandemic progressed, Gary and his wife Lois noticed that their neighbours were struggling. Elderly neighbours were having difficulty making it to medical appointments, due to reduced bus service. Friends were nervous to go to the store to purchase groceries. Classes were getting cancelled. Everyone was afraid. But instead of allowing COVID-19 to push people further apart, Gary and Lois embraced the challenges the pandemic brought on and came up with creative solutions to keep alive that sense of ‘togetherness’ that Sonora Drive was so known for.

Over the months of lockdown, Gary and Lois took on various initiatives to support their neighbours, such as personally driving residents to their appointments, organizing communal grocery deliveries, ordering takeout food for their block, hosting socially distanced events and lending helping hands however they could, without expecting anything in return.

“During a time when we needed social connection more than ever, the world needed us to be apart," remembers Gary.

Even still, he and Lois demonstrated outstanding neighbourhood leadership and became pillars of strength and hope for many.

“I think people take great comfort in knowing that there is someone just a few steps away if they need them,” said Gary. “It’s nice to know we’re in this together."

Good neighbours make great neighbourhoods. Saturday September 25th is St. Albert’s Second Annual Good Neighbour Day. Please join us in celebrating the local heroes, like Gary and Lois, who live next door and make our communities so great. 

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Last edited: September 22, 2021