There’s more history to Kensington than what the Roasterie’s people-watchers chat about or poets profess at Pages.
With all of this buzz, it’s easy to forget Kensington isn’t a community but rather the business district joining Calgary’s Hillhurst and Sunnyside northwest communities.
Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), says, “We feel like we’re creating a place where people want to come to.”
MacInnis moved from the Maritimes in 1981 to Kensington because everyone told her it was the “cool place to shop.”
“This felt like a small town and was much less intimidating than other areas of the city,” she says.
MacInnis now works with the businesses she always loved. She says the community is strong, and the business owners look out for one another, volunteer for BRZ events and attend annual general meetings to stay involved.
Kensington’s day-to-day traffic, MacInnis says, is three-pronged: Teenagers and 20-somethings hang out at pubs, coffee or tea shops; empty nesters stroll sidewalks towards spas, salons and restaurants; and middle-age parents take kids to nearby schools then go to lunch spots as a family on weekends.
Ald. Druh Farrell has been a resident of Hillhurst for 27 years and Ward 7’s alderman since 2001. “The demographic is very diverse,” she says. “A real mix of socio-economic groups, however it is becoming a bit gentrified.”
Originally, she says the neighbourhood was quite affordable — full of students, artists, professors and teachers. But, the lack of rental suites and change of apartments to condominiums has affected Hillhurst and Sunnyside’s eclectic group of residents.
In spite of increased property costs, she describes Hillhurst/Sunnyide as “very progressive” with community gardens and the city’s first community orchard.
“It’s a cool place to hang out,” says artist Katie Selbee, 20, who is a freshman to the neighbourhood. “It’s like a little community, like a little home.”