The business of community building

When you take a walk in your old neighbourhoods, your mind inevitably turns to memories from years gone by. The convenience store where you spent way too much money on candy as a kid. The coffee shop where you took your first date. The burger joint where you had your first summer job.

Small businesses are part of the fabric of any good neighbourhood. They provide employment, they bring liveliness and activity, and they support local causes and teams. These roles mean they tend to feature into our memories and routines.

Historic Portsmouth Village and the surrounding area has several great small businesses: from salons and spas to restaurants, from convenience stories to drug stores. These entrepreneurs and their businesses are strong additions to the community. But there’s a need for more.

If a Portsmouth-area resident wants to get groceries, for instance, or go to a medical appointment, they’ve got to leave Portsmouth. Now, if you’re able bodied and have the time, or you have access to the right kind of transportation, this isn’t a big problem.

But if you’re looking to get in some exercise with a quick jog or cycle to get where you’re going, or trying to reduce your environmental impact, or just need to save time and energy, then you need the right resources to be in the area where you live. It’s part of creating what are called ‘walkable communities’ – areas where residents have access to everything they need within about a 15-minute walk.

We can’t guarantee that Union Park Kingston will bring the full list of businesses that Historic Portsmouth Village and the surrounding area currently desire to the site. After all, that’s up to the entrepreneurs and companies who want to lease the space and be a part of what we’re doing.

But what we can say is that the first two phases of our plans would add about 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail space which could accommodate medical clinics, a restaurant, a convenience store, or similar uses. There may also be a couple of spots for businesses within the senior’s retirement complex such as a hair salon or spa.

The third phase – part of the Block A building that we are still defining – could also have space for a number of businesses. We have planned more neighbourhood commercial space in that building because of its visibility and proximity to the major intersection of Sir John A Macdonald Blvd. and Union St.

Arriving at the decision to include commercial space, and how much, involved careful study and consultation – much like our other plans around open space, the height of our buildings, and our residential plans for the site. We hope the businesses that decide to locate on-site will both prosper and prove to be great resources for the broader community through jobs, important local services, and those great neighbourhood memories.