It’s around 3pm and I’m walking to my bus through the crowded streets of downtown Calgary. The snow’s melting. The wind is blowing mightily through the downtown core making it hard to walk straight. I’m trying to not slip and not blow over, two difficult tasks on a day like this.
The chocolate, slushy snow spews out of tires of cars running yellow lights. It sprays as I walk, clinging to my pants and shoes.
On the corner by the C-Train, a group of three 30-somethings finish a crack deal. It seems so bizarre to see that on Calgary’s streets. But it’s true and the problem is growing as housing prices rise and the winter gets colder.
A new shelter is set to open up in the old Brick building on 16th avenue and Centre street much to the chagrin of many Calgary citizens. Not in my backyard, I suppose is the idea behind the controversy.
It will start to nudge the homeless problem out of the core, that’s for sure. But the reality is, there simply isn’t room for Calgary’s homeless population in the city. Shelters continue to turn people out at night – and in the wake of minus 30 weather and increasing wind chill, that’s a deadly recipe.
City Hall is looking for any short term solution it can find – transit centres, warehouses, any building with four wall.
It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds this winter.