Calgarians We Love: Jennifer Black

Jennifer Black has led a number of creative walkability initiatives in Crescent Heights and launched the Crescent Heights Village Business Improvement Area to boost business along Centre Street.

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Black

As an urban planner, Jennifer Black understands the importance of walkability for a thriving neighbourhood. It’s why she chose to live in Crescent Heights. After joining the community association’s board, she led a number of creative walkability initiatives, including a street chalk festival, a community asset map, an intersection painting program, a build-a-bench workshop and Calgary’s first augmented reality mural. But she noticed a lack of businesses at the community table, so she began knocking on doors to launch a Business Improvement Area (BIA) to boost business along Centre Street. “It took a lot of work,” says Black, who singlehandedly tackled the application process before recruiting a small team of volunteers. “It took us three years and two tries to get there.”

But it was worth the effort. The Crescent Heights Village BIA now supports more than 110 diverse and inclusive businesses, and few have closed during the COVID crisis. “In fact, we’ve seen a few open,” Black says. “This is a testament to the power of BIAs: helping businesses open and stay open. These business owners live in our community. They don’t pick up and leave when times get tough. We should support them.”

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Black

Learn more about the people and organizations moving Calgary forward with Avenue's Innovation Newsletter.

This article appears in the January 2021 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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