Reading the Community Tea Leaves

Seeing the Future of a Successful Business District: Community and Commerce

Did you know the Kensington Business District was the location of one of the highest participation events in the launch of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, the latest from the Land of Harry Potter? There were Harrys, Hermiones and Dumbledores taking over the streets of Kensington as they lined up to get the new book from Pages bookstore.

Such an event is embraced and celebrated by Jonathan Kane, a local tea vendor and owner of The Naked Leaf. As President of the Kensington Business Revitalization Zone, Jonathan has a clear vision of how a BRZ can serve its member businesses by creating community in the district and on the streets.

The direction taken by the BRZ is to make Kensington the place to be, not just because of what you can buy, but because of who you will see neighbours, friends and fellow Potter fans and what you can do dress up, watch movies, hang out with your dog and a coffee.

Kensington BRZ has been on the front line of prototyping a variety of community engagement campaigns;

Shop the Neighbourhood 2015

Christmas in Kensington 2015 (4 weekends)Christmas-in-kensington-64

Harry Potter Diagon Alley

August Outdoor Movie Nights

Beakerhead Installations

Valentines underwear promotion

Mothers Day cocktail and jewellery party

Kensington BRZ also advocates for its members when the City government comes calling, whether it is coordinating road works or prototyping the creation of a complete community (something the City is interested in supporting).

In the current sidewalk improvement project, you will notice that all businesses are open and accessible during the repairs. There are wooden bridges to each doorway where the sidewalk is gone and a “doorman” (my words not Jonathan’s) to direct people safely over the hazards to their destination.This was negotiated by the BRZ for its members to mitigate the effects of construction and is now a precedent for other BRZs.


Keeping with the themes of reading the tea leaves and magic, NewScoop asked Jonathan if he were to be magically transported 5 years into the future and Kensington had become all he could hope or imagine: What would it be like, what would there be more of and what would be new and wonderful?

His comments were that, Kensington would be a cultural shopping hub. It would be more like a European city where the streets are alive. People would be standing around outside of shops talking to each other. Nearby residents, those within walking distance would do their shopping in Kensington. When people come to eat they also stay to shop – thereby enabling the local business to be financially sustainable and the district to be a funky and attractive place.

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