An online community forum in the Ottawa Valley has become the place to turn to for local information.
The Facebook group, What’s Up, Arnprior marked 10 years of existence this December and has become known as the community hub for anything and everything in the town.
“I really started it as a place that locals can go and talk about things that matter to them,” said Chris Couper, the group’s founder and now an Arnprior town councillor.
“I noticed a lot of people were using our local buy and sell groups for conversations.”
Over those 10 years, What’s Up, Arnprior has become known for being a vehicle that drives community change, such as helping to locate a lost child or fundraising for the local movie theatre for it to stay in business.
The group is also well known for being the home to the ugly side of the internet: gossip, arguments and local drama.
The group has now become so active, it takes a team of five to run it.
“We’ve really transformed it from an open sandbox where anyone could step up to the microphone and talk about whatever they want, to more of a community support resource,” said Couper.
Couper is helped by fellow administrator Scott Catterill, and moderators Taylor Holmes, Mike Bennett and Paul Thompson.
“It is very tough,” said Catterill when speaking on the effort that goes into moderating the group.
“On an average day, we get 70 to 75 posts submitted and 50 see the light of day in the group. Five people support the group, so it’s a significant team effort.”
The size of the Facebook group also dwarfs the physical community it represents.
Heading into 2024, What’s Up, Arnprior had just shy of 29,000 members. That’s nearly triple the population of the town.
“Engagement wise, it’s always much higher than any other group that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Holmes.
“As a community member I will always go to What’s Up, Arnprior first.”
The same holds true for many of its members for weather, power outages and local events.
“Parades and new restaurants – it keeps us up to date,” said group member Tara Cloutier.
“It is pretty much our news.”
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