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Series: Old East Village Community Association

Old East Village Community Association

The Old East Village lies just east of downtown London and some of the city’s other core neighbourhoods like Woodfield and SoHo. The area was developed in a short period of time at the turn of the twentieth century as a residential community supporting nearby industry, and it blossomed in London’s industrial era, but fell on harder times during the city’s suburbanization. Partly to address the lack of organized community support in early revitalization efforts, the Old East Village Community Association (OEVCA) was formed as a residents' association in January of 2003 “to aid and empower residents of the neighbourhood” through advocacy, education and community engagement. Its Constitution and Bylaws were passed at a general meeting in January, 2004. 

Programming and Initiatives

The association immediately became an active contributor to community development efforts like the Old East Village Community Improvement Plan, -- work started by the City and the area’s BIA -- and helped to expedite recognition of the Old East Heritage Conservation District (2006). It also went to work on greening efforts in the neighbourhood and still maintains a tree nursery in partnership with ReForest London, heads up the neighbourhood’s Clean & Green efforts, and has sponsored two boulevard ‘blitzes,’ promoting decorative boulevard gardens in 2005 and food gardens for sharing with the community in 2015.

With the support of the City, the BIA, and the nearby Western Fair District, the OEVCA continues to work on area redevelopment, helping to bring positive change to Queens Park, the Boyle Memorial Community Centre, and the Carson Branch Library. Currently, it supports the work of the OEV Safety Team, a working group arising out of a neighbourhood consultation, and is playing a role in the redevelopment of a local school site after a famous but lost battle to save Lorne Ave Public School. It also continues to consult on the McCormick Area Secondary Plan and to speak for the community in larger, citywide consultations like the London Plan and Shift, the city’s rapid transit initiative.

The OEVCA also remains an active promoter of social engagement with hundreds of members helping to mount annual social events like the much-loved Old East Village Block Party and the Old East Village Community Yard Sale, London’s largest multi-family yard sale. It also supports other grassroots initiatives in the neighbourhood like the OEV Walking Group, the Old East Village Riding Group, the London Tweed Ride, and Musical Chairs!, a live entertainment series at a local watering hole.
In the meantime, the OEVCA dedicates itself to creating better connections among residents. Quarterly, the OEVCA publishes the OEV News and delivers it to 2500 homes in the neighbourhood, mostly chronicling and promoting opportunities to get out into the famously walkable neighbourhood and meet neighbours or support neighbourhood businesses. Now, well into the age of digital and social media, the OEVCA also recreates its porch-talk culture through accounts on Twitter (@oevNews) and Instagram (@oevca), an eponymous Facebook group (Old East Village Community Association), and a community calendar on its website. The ‘I Heart OEV’ wordmark and the #OEVldn hashtag are now recognized throughout the city and region as the marks of a proud and connected community. In 2014, the OEVCA tested its pride and connectedness by entering the Great Places in Canada contest sponsored by the Canadian Planners Institute  and was voted the People’s Choice for Great Neighbourhood.

Specifically a residents’ (rather than homeowners’) organization, the association also welcomes the participation of ‘friends’ from outside the neighbourhood – as volunteers or as members -- and gets support from nearby residents in Woodfield, SoHo, Carling, and the areas just west of Highbury. Annual household memberships for voting residents or non-voting friends are $10 per year, but membership isn’t required to volunteer at events or sit on association committees. A year’s membership is also offered free of charge as a part of the welcome basket the OEVCA delivers to new residents on their arrival. Membership is also available free of charge on request for anyone who finds it a hardship.

Community Partnerships

The association is a member of the Urban League of London and has the benefit of many partners in the area besides the City and the BIA. The Boyle Activity Council is a grassroots recreational organization offering affordable activity to children and adults of the area and an active player in the OEVCA’s Healthy Hearts Festival. The OEVCA continues to support BAC initiatives like mini-soccer and an annual OEV Scarecrow Festival. 
The Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market and Western Fair District are also active supporters, and the OEVCA has partnered with LIFE*SPIN on initiatives like the Dundas Street Mural project, bringing together members of the community to improve a Dundas Street facade. 
The London InterCommunity Health Centre has also provided ongoing support and is a major partner with Ontario SEO in what could be the OEVCA’s most transformational project to date: the Old East Village Community Exchange is being developed as a web-based skill-swapping network allowing Villagers to pay for services with other services.

Getting Involved

The Old East Village itself is bordered to the west by Adelaide Street, to the south and north by the CN rail lines at and CP rail lines and to the east by Ashland Ave on the north side of Dundas St. and the CN/CP feeder lines at the former Kellogg plant on the south side of Dundas St. Online, it can be found at www.oevca.ca. To get involved, email oevcasec@gmail.com or oevcapresident@gmail.com.


This article is part of a series on neighbourhood associations in London, Ontario.

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