Downtown booster Ken Kelly to retire in June

Ken Kelly will tell you he’s always been more of a team player, that the individual can only be credited with so much in any successful venture. But the general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association may be getting some push-back on that premise from those who have worked closely with him.

Former board members and colleagues say Kelly, 67, who has announced he will be retiring from his position in June, will leave a big hole that won’t easily be filled. “He is a pillar of the downtown,” said Darlene Hollstein, general manager of the Bay Centre and former DVBA board chairwoman. “Ken has definitely put his mark on downtown and the revitalization of downtown. He was part of re-energizing our downtown in the early years and getting groups to work as one.”

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Hollstein said it’s hard not to love a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and puts so much effort into doing the right thing.

“He had great balance, worrying about the disenfranchised as well as all levels of business and was able to bring them together.”

“Ken has been an individual force for the DVBA. It was his personal power of conviction and effort that accomplished a lot of things there,” said Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

It’s the kind of endorsement that would make Kelly blush. “No one person does anything,” he argued. “It’s always about partnership and about building on the achievements of the past and building a stronger future together.”

Kelly admits his work, which started with the DVBA in 2005, has been more than a job and it’s only because of his supportive wife, Jo-Ann Roberts, that he was able to be successful. He is also quick to credit a strong group of business and property owners in the core with being able to accomplish so much over the last 11 years.

“We have been blessed with a truly visionary and tight group of creative and committed people who wanted to do something, and they did something about it,” he said. “There’s always been great cohesion around the board table, a shared passion. And that has been a wonderful catalyst for strengthening connectivity around downtown.”

Kelly said establishing the Clean Team, which employs people living on the street to clean up the downtown, may have been his most important achievement. He noted the DVBA’s involvement in court programs, real-time pedestrian counts and improved lighting for alleyways and downtown buildings as highlights.

Kelly is pursuing a vocation as a deacon in the Catholic Church.

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