Community Stories: Meet The New Forest

Community Stories: Meet The New FOREST

Norfolk Housing Association is fortunate to own several commercial spaces in the heart of Kensington. The rents collected from these spaces are one of the important ways that we can maintain our ongoing operations. But more than that, these businesses are another key component of our community, adding to the vibrancy of the neighbourhood, the diversity of our model, and the relationship between neighbours and small businesses.

And as such, we think they’re worth celebrating! So this month, let’s get to know The New Forest a little bit better. It’s been a tough year and a half, and we’re so glad to have these folks as part of our community. We appreciate you supporting ALL small businesses in whatever way you can comfortably do so.

Ok, now let’s get to know The New Forest!

How long have you been renting commercial space from NHA and how did you first hear about us?

We have been renting from NHA for nearly 2 years. To be honest we didn’t know much about NHA, but the location and space were perfect for our needs. We spoke with the owners of InGear, located in the same building, and after giving you such a glowing review as landlords the decision was simple.

What were the key factors in choosing to rent one of our commercial spaces instead of others?

We didn’t really search out an NHA space specifically, but the location and exposure with such large windows was key for us. Having been in business before, we realized the importance of choosing the right location for traffic. Once we learned more about what you do it made us feel great knowing that our rent money was going to such a great organization, not just a random corporation.

Tell us a little about what sets you apart as a business.

What sets us apart is that we really set out to offer pet products that are well made, while being aesthetically pleasing. All of the brands that we stock are developed by people who go that extra bit to think about the design aspect of what they are making.

We also feel that our backgrounds – over 40 years combined experience in retail (the clothing and pet industries) gave us the ability to combine a traditional pet shop with a boutique feel.

We work in the store ourselves everyday, getting to really know our clientele, and what their needs are. It truly is a family business!

What does community mean to you/your business?

Community is very important to us. We live a couple of blocks away from the shop so we understand the importance of supporting the small businesses in the area. Without them it would not be the same experience living in the area. Lots of our customers even live on our street! Getting to know the people that directly support you is key.

We also offer a 15% discount to residents of NHA, as well as employees of the businesses around us. This pandemic has been so challenging for us all, it has never been more important to help out in ways that you can.

“Choosing to purchase something from a small business rather than Amazon truly makes a direct difference to all Calgarians.”

We also give back directly by supporting animal rescue – we donate $5 to the Humane Society from every bag of bulk dog biscuits that we sell.

What’s one thing that community members can do today to support your small business?

One way that the community members can support us is obviously choosing to shop at the store. But there are so many other ways, such as letting people know about the shop when they are at the dog park or doggie day care, posting pictures of purchases on social media and tagging us. Every bit helps in increasing awareness for our little shop!

You can find The New Forest online at or pop in at 1120 Kensington Road NW to check out their incredible range of fur baby approved goodies.

2020 Community Report

2020 Community Report

This past year is certainly one we are all glad to put behind us. While we had grand plans to celebrate our 40th year in operation, the pandemic forced us back to basics; protect our residents and ensure the stability of their homes.

The need for safe, stable, and affordable homes has never been more profoundly demonstrated than during this pandemic. Many of our community members found themselves in precarious positions, loss of employment, and uncertainty about the future.

Understanding this, our staff and board was ever more committed to ensuring that Norfolk buildings were safe, stable, and remained affordable for all residents. We were most humbled by the dedication and spirit of our staff and the many ways they went above and beyond to serve our residents and the community.

Read the full report here.

Community Stories: Meet Peggy

NHA likes to tell stories of our residents’ success! However a huge part of our model is respecting the anonymity of all of our residents. In this series, we’ll keep telling those stories but we will change names and remove details that could point to a particular individual (dependent on each person’s preferences and comfort). We hope you’ll find these stories demonstrate our commitment to serving individuals and families with dignity – wherever they’re at.

Peggy first moved to Sunnyside in 1987 and has called the area home for most of the time since. In 2010, with her children long grown and out of the house, Peggy was newly retired and in need of more affordable housing. Having spent many years in the community, she was aware of Norfolk Housing Association and knew that NHA would be the right fit for her in future. In fact, she’d already met some of her current neighbours and was excited by the idea of maintaining those relationships.

“This community was a real fit for me as it had a lot of people and organizations who worked hard to make this community and city a decent place for working people to live.”

When Peggy moved into NHA, she was paying market rents – owing in large part to the fact that NHA is always conscientious of market rental rates, working to ensure they remain affordable. As her income shifted, so did her rent, and Peggy moved to paying rent geared to her income without having to move apartments or change homes.

According to Peggy, NHA’s unique 50/50 mixed model is a great way of keeping rental housing affordable, especially in an often expensive neighbourhood like Hillhurst-Sunnyside. However, as with anything, it isn’t a model that works flawlessly in every scenario and the market units can see more turnover, especially during times of market flux. Any sort of rapid turnover naturally affects the longer-term sense of community that so many residents hold dear (and will note as a main reason for making their homes with NHA).

Peggy is an active member of the NHA community but also in the broader community, over the years leading the charge on labour rights, women’s rights, running for political office, and upholding the values of community on every level. She never misses an NHA Stampede breakfast, attends most Community Advisory Group meetings with residents, and often volunteers both within the NHA sphere and outside of it. Neighbours will tell you that Peggy is always willing to lend a hand – she is a natural leader and we all gravitate towards her optimism for a brighter future.

When asked about plans for the future, Peggy is, as ever, a tireless advocate for improved outcomes for all.

“I will continue to do all I can to encourage people to empower themselves to speak out and act on their concerns, whether it is the right to affordable housing, the right to public healthcare and education and to make sure the needs of everyone are met.”

Building Healthy Communities