Neighbourly Neighbours

“There are too many homeless people in this neighbourhood.” Or so said the long time resident across the street from where I live. I responded by saying that there are too many bars, too many Bar Stars, too many frats, too many sororities and too many homeless people with not enough supports for the homeless in this neighbourhood. It would appear that after my response the “neighbourly” resident of mine will go back to ignoring me and to be honest, I’m OK with that.

Yes, I do admit that I have an axe to grind with the current Edmonton Council led by Mayor Mandel V2.0 AKA Mayor Don Iveson. I also still have an axe to grind with the former mayor Stephen Mandel and his city council. Both millionaire mayors and city councils effectively kissed the ass of Oilers owner, billionaire businessman by building their Roger’s Place downtown. Now I don’t know if they did it consciously or not but I saw the writing on the wall for the homeless people living in and around the downtown core. City council effectively evicted the homeless from in and around the Ice District and Roger’s Place, where most of the services are located. I don’t know about you but I certainly felt a chill in the air because this seemed pretty cold to me.

Not only that but both city councils lacked the foresight to see where street people go, they go where the money is, in this case the next closest money pit is Old Strathcona where I have lived and played for well over 30 years. Contrary to popular belief I don’t have a problem with the homeless. I have a problem with the City of Edmonton not growing a pair and building more services and affordable housing in and around Old Strathcona. Most of the residents of Old Strathcona that I talk to want nothing to do with the homeless, let alone services for the homeless. They want to see homeless get help, but just not where they live thank you very much. Help or no help it would appear that a good portion of Old Strathcona residents resent the homeless anyway. That’s why I say city council has to grow a pair and build more services for street people in this area whether residents like it or not. In fact the whole city needs more services for street people whether the whole city wants it or not, thank you very much. If this sounds like a gun to your head then that’s pretty near what I felt like with Roger’s Place/Ice District being plunked downtown. Thank you very much.

In January 2009, Edmonton launched an ambitious, yet attainable, 10-year plan to end homelessness in the city. Now its 2018 and guess what? This plan to end homelessness has been moved back. Maybe city council should have budgeted better and allocate funds towards the homeless before they went and bent over for the current billionaire owner of Roger’s Place & the Oilers. As of March 2017 there are 15,000 Albertans waiting for affordable housing with a sizeable chunk of them living in and around Edmonton. This shouldn’t be a news flash to Mayor Iveson because Boyle Street Co-op and other services for the homeless have been ringing alarm bells for years. Yet here we are in 2018 with city council throwing pennies at homeless services and hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted on The Ice District and…a funicular. Yes you heard me right; a funicular is a higher priority for Edmonton city council than the homeless.

So the next time a homeless person isn’t very neighbourly to you for you not giving them your spare change, keep in mind that said homeless person probably feels a wee bit slighted by the likes of Stephen Mandel, Mayor Iveson, The Edmonton city council and not to mention YOU. Edmonton residents like you and I should have stood up to Stephen Mandel, Mayor Iveson, The Edmonton city council and told them, no wait, demanded that they should end homelessness first and build white Elephants second. Make no mistake that had the White Elephants been put on the back burner then our homeless neighbours would probably be in a more neighbourly mood.