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NEWS: Plan to protect Kensington Market (May 2024)

June 14th, 2024 · No Comments

Land trust aims to preserve affordability of unique neigbourhood

By Merideth Poirier

At Cafe Pamenar, located in the heart of Kensington Market, community members came out in droves to support the Kensington Community Bond Campaign. 

The Kensington Market Community Land Trust had weather on its side on Monday, April 29, as they hosted their Community Bond Campaign launch party on the lovely back patio at Cafe Pamenar, a mainstay cafe and bar in Kensington Market. The Kensington Market Community Land Trust (KMCLT) is an organization with the simple goal of “protecting the social and economic diversity of the neighbourhood.” 

The KMCLT comes out of the Friends of Kensington Market organization. Friends of Kensington was founded by Dominique Russel, co-chair of KMCLT, in 2013. The Friends of Kensington and the organizations that have come since are run by community members who simply want their neighbours to have safe affordable homes to live in and to keep big corporations out of Kensington Market. The energy and drive of the KMCLT comes from fighting for neighbours and residents, but also working to build support and momentum. Dominique Russel shared some history of the work.  “Initially it [the KMCLT] was really around the commercial, we [wanted to] protect the vibrant commercial part of the market, and then some of our neighbours got their doors ripped off. The housing crisis just reached into the neighbourhood, [as did] Airbnb and displacement and [the] violent disruption of people’s lives.” 

The housing crisis in Kensington and the almost overnight changes are what caused the KMCLT to start to focus on residential properties as well. 

In 2019, the KMCLT was supporting neighbours living at 54-56 Kensington Ave. who were being threatened with eviction. The KMCLT, along with the Friends of Kensington Market, Kensington Bellwoods Legal Clinic, the provincial MPP at the time, as well city councillor (at the time) Mike Layton fought on behalf of the residents and told them not to move. The tenants didn’t move, and two years later (2021), the building went up for sale and was bought by the KMCLT. This building has 12 residential units and five commercial units. 

The KMCLT is looking to raise $2 million to be able to acquire another property in Kensington Market to continue their mission; however, support is needed from the community to raise these funds. This is where the Community Bond Campaign comes in. The KMCLT is offering neighbours and community members the opportunity to purchase a bond to invest in the purchase of the property. Their purchase of a bond will be an investment and will put money back in community members’ pockets once the piece of property is acquired. A community bond is a unique and innovative way for non-profits to get support from those who have the financial ability to contribute. The community bond can be purchased by individuals or organizations, and they will earn a fixed interest rate. , Promotors of this initiative say it’s a way for people to invest in their communities while earning income. 

A range of people were at the event at Cafe Pamenar. The crowd of about 60 was composed mainly of twenty-somethings and folks over the age of 60. Everyone was abuzz with excitement around this new campaign and many connections were being made between people of all ages and backgrounds. 

Declan Inghan, 28, a community member and a union researcher with CUPE, spoke about the importance of this event and why he chose to attend. “I’m excited about the decommodification of housing and property in Toronto. I feel like our city is sort of under an onslaught of a housing crisis that makes it increasingly unaffordable for working people to live. I was really excited about what the land trust is doing.”

Attendees were willing and eager to do what they could to help with the campaign. A donation jar was passed around and people gave their spare change and bills to make donations to the campaign. More importantly though, many attendees spoke to staff members of the KMCLT to figure out how they could purchase a bond and make the best financial decision for them. 

James, 25, an IT worker in Toronto spoke about what community members can do. “So, the most immediate and obvious opportunity is to invest and purchase bonds if you have the means available to you. Volunteer efforts are always appreciated, and always important. But at the end of the day, this is a game of money and having the money to purchase sites to invest in the land trust is what makes this thing run.”

The KMCLT has two full-time staff members: Zack Bradley, development manager, and Angela Ho, community investment manager. Zack and Angela were incredibly busy throughout the launch party, speaking to community members and sharing their excitement about the Community Bond Campaign. 

Angela shared the campaign’s status and hopes for the future. “I’m really excited for where we’re going to go with this campaign. It seems really promising. We have already raised $100,000 in investments so far, and almost $300,000 [has been] committed from community members. So, it’s really exciting to see, you know, where this campaign will take us. And I’m hopeful that we will be able to buy a second building in the fall.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Kensington Market Community Land Trust or the Community Bond campaign, check out the KMCLTs website at:


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