The annual Kaleido Family Arts Festival has been giving Alberta Avenue an opportunity to shake off the past.
Following City-funded improvements to the area including adding wider sidewalks, trees and benches, Ward 7 Councillor Tony Caterina said it was worth celebrating the community.
“This is sort of a celebration not just of the arts in the community but the fact that these are new people coming to the area and seeing that maybe what they thought of it 10 years ago isn’t necessarily the fact anymore.
“They made a decision five, six, seven years ago that they were going to take back their community and they weren’t going to leave it the way it was.”
The festival is celebrating its 9th year on the Avenue and organizers said it has been incredible to watch it grow.
“I started the festival nine years ago in my living room with a group of great artists,” general manager of Kaleido Christy Morin explained.
“I don’t think any of us had any idea about the magnitude or impact this festival was going to have on the community.”
According to Morin there were 800 people that took in the festival in its first year, compared with over 55,000 last year.
“It is a lovely, lovely festival that people are just embracing and calling with suggestions and wanting to be involved. It is great.”
Those in the business community told CTV News the economic effect has also been positive.
“When I first came on the scene here there were over 30 empty store fronts. Right now our resting rate is about half a dozen at each time,” executive director for the Alberta Avenue Business Association Joachim Holtz said.
“Developers and real estate investors are also taking a look at Alberta Avenue for the first time in a long time,” he added.
“We have a mixed-used property that is going to be going up here shortly.”
Caterina said the success of the community was largely due to the residents.
“As much money as the City puts in, it is invaluable to have the community buy in and their longevity to make sure that they don’t quit on projects. And this community has shown that they are not quitters.”
The Kaleido festival runs from September 12-14.
With files from Amanda Anderson