The Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) continues to grow community economic development through engagement in their community. Quentin Sinclair, Executive Director of the Association, says that “historically, the culture of this community has been one of activism.” A quick look at their website shows just how focused the HSCA is on creating a sustainable and vibrant community and local economy. Truly a Community Economic Development superstar in Calgary, the HSCA has had a busy few years: they’ve started a Winter Farmers’ Market, piloted a second summer market, created community gardens, and expanded into new businesses.
By far the biggest project of 2015 was a new social venture. HSCA acquired the tenant-run day care that had been in the building for decades. They were able to come to an agreement with the existing business and began implementing the plan over the second half of the year. With the acquisition, HSCA has doubled the child care staff and increased their engagement with neighbourhood families. Sinclair pointed out that the service was already there, but HSCA was able to grow it in size – and ensure that residents would be placed at the top of the waiting list. “We were also able to align our programs, interests, and business model” through the acquisition, added Sinclair, while also providing value to the community.
HSCA also piloted a Saturday Farmers’ Market in 2015 for eight weeks during the summer months. As a result, there were two outdoor markets at HSCA per week for a short duration. “It brought out more residents,” said Sinclair, “the community came out to support it.” The fantastic success of this eight week trial has lead to HSCA adding the Saturday Farmers’ Market as a staple in 2016, with a full 20 weeks scheduled this summer. With this economic endeavor, they’ve been able to expand their customer base and support more local vendors, while at the same time engaging the community and city.
As for what else 2016 has in store, Sinclair says that HSCA is taking steps to become more sustainable, looking at a triple bottom line approach and new methods for waste management. They plan to hold focus groups with residents before moving forward, as they want to ensure they have the support of the neighbourhood before making any decisions. There is also the ongoing Flea Market, Farmers’ Market, and of course the continuing merger of the day care program. It may seem like a lot to have going on in one neighbourhood, but Sinclair pointed out that “ambition exists within the community and the staff have fed off of that.” When it comes to the community and programming within it – “when they see something that’s important, they make it happen.”