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10 Good Reasons to Choose Citizen Mediation

Do you have an issue in your neighbourhood, and would like to resolve a conflict with a neighbour? Whether it’s a noisy neighbour, an interpersonal conflict, bothersome animals, or other quibbles, you can benefit from the many advantages of citizen mediation. Here are a few of them.

1- Take advantage of a free service

Few people know it, but in 12 cities and municipalities served by the alternative justice organization Mesures Alternatives des Vallées du Nord (MAVN), mediation services are offered free of charge to the public. These municipal partners fund the citizen mediation service “Vivre ensemble”, provided by MAVN. Currently, citizens of Lachute, Mille-Isles, Mirabel, Piedmont, Prévost, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs, Sainte-Sophie, Saint-Hippolyte, Saint-Jérôme, Saint-Sauveur and Wentworth-Nord can use the neighbourhood mediation service at no cost.

2- Better to be safe than sorry

You don’t have to wait for a conflict with a neighbour to escalate before going through a mediation process. In fact, the opposite is true. The sooner you act, the more likely you are to defuse the situation and find a solution that suits everyone. This is one of the main advantages of citizen mediation, which is in fact a preventive approach.

3- Avoid legal costs

As mentioned, citizen mediation is a free service offered to residents of a dozen cities served by MAVN. Better still, this alternative justice solution makes it possible to avoid lengthy legal proceedings, lawsuits, lawyers’ fees, judges and courts. There is no better way to settle a conflict with a neighbour at low cost! Citizen mediation makes it possible to settle a dispute… differently.

4- Enjoy a better quality of life

Cities and municipalities that invest in citizen mediation want to offer their population a better quality of life. No one enjoys conflict with a neighbour. Stress mounts. Tension rises. We feel anger or frustration. When we don’t know what to do, annoyance builds up and it can affect our mood. It can even end up preventing us from sleeping! An alternative justice solution, which helps defuse crises before they get out of hand, is an effective way to improve quality of life.

5- Encourage good communication

It is well known in the world of citizen mediation: lack of communication is often at the heart of conflicts between neighbours. When we are upset or irritated by a bothersome situation, our emotions take over. We blame each other, we accuse each other, we blame ourselves. In such a case, our tones rise, we speak foolishly, or we shout at each other instead of talking. Citizen mediation is a process in which everyone does their part to defuse the crisis. It offers an opportunity to express what is bothering us in a safe, respectful and confidential atmosphere. By speaking frankly about what bothers us about our neighbour, we learn to express ourselves in a healthy and constructive way.

6- Preserve harmony

The advantage of settling a conflict with a neighbour through citizen mediation is that it helps to preserve harmony in the neighbourhood. Rather than building frustration while doing nothing or quarrelling to the point of legal battles that often only result in stress and unhappiness, we learn to speak to each other, to understand each other and to compromise. At the beginning, people involved in a citizen mediation process may feel stressed, angry, distrustful and look downcast. Often, they end the process with a smile on their face and shake one another’s hands. Harmony is restored!

7- Help everybody win

One little-known aspect of citizen mediation is that we do not engage in this a process to “win”. Rather, we seek to be equipped and supported to resolve a conflict with a neighbour. In the traditional justice system, there are often only winners and losers. In an alternative justice process, solutions can be found that suit everyone. We give ourselves a chance to find peace, and there are only winners.

8- Get the tools to resolve conflicts better

One of the objectives of the citizen mediation process is for each participant to take responsibility for resolving the conflict that concerns them. This requires communication, listening, respect and open-mindedness. Mediators who specialize in citizen mediation make sure to provide each participant with the tips, tools and means to find their own solutions. Each participant becomes the architect of their own success and feels better equipped to resolve other conflicts that may arise in the future.

9- Promote good citizenship and civic engagement

Since citizen mediation is based on open-mindedness, respect, listening and healthy communication, it allows people involved in a neighbourhood conflict to practice good citizenship. It helps develop the reflex to act autonomously and responsibly, without aggression, to resolve conflicts while preserving harmony. As each participant becomes better equipped, they can become actively involved in the resolution of a problem, present or future. In this way, mediation encourages civic engagement.

10- Benefit from an impartial listener

When we experience a conflict, we often feel the need to talk about it to relieve stress. Parents, friends and colleagues do their best, but they are inevitably biased. Sometimes, instead of calming us down, this serves to make us angrier, push us over the edge and worsen the conflict. The mediator specialising in citizen mediation, on the other hand, offers us an impartial, neutral and benevolent ear. This person is able to hear both points of view. Above all, they can accompany the neighbours involved in a conflict until each side can express to the other, in a polite and respectful manner, what is upsetting them. Talking to an impartial person about what we are experiencing allows us to see the problem from a different perspective and to sort out facts from perceptions.

One call is enough!

How can you take advantage of the benefits of citizen mediation free of charge? For citizens of the 12 cities and municipalities served by MAVN, all you have to do is call 450 436-6749, ext. 104, or visit www.mavn.ca/services/getting-along-together/. This is an excellent way to develop civic-mindedness and promote pleasant neighbourhood life for all, so we can live better together.

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