it's not just "funding" that is a question mark when it comes to the planning and implementation for the quarters.
Originally Posted by booster
the following letter is a good example [or a bad one, depending on your perspective] of why some things in our city move like molasses. it's a prime example of trying to "link" things where none exists (i.e. we shouldn't spend money on art galleries when there are potholes in our streets; we shouldn't build an arena or host an expo because our economic circumstance are either too good or too bad [pick one, your choice] for us to do so...).
not proceeding with the quarters will not solve a half century of neglect for those communities east and north of downtown. not proceeding with the quarters will not solve the underlying issues behind homelessness. the current state of the quarters is a large part of the problem, not a solution that should be preserved. there are many things we should be doing to address the problem but doing nothing in the quarters is not going to contribute to a solution.
while donna and susan purport to speak for "the riverdale community league", they certainly do not have a mandate to speak on behalf of all riverdalians, at least on this issue, from my perpsective. at the december meeting at which they were first "delegated to present" the referenced motion and the january meeting where they were "directed to write to council", there were no more than 12 minuted individuals present - including donna and susan - at either one.
as a riverdalian, i can confirm that the assumptions - and the presumptions - and the agendas behind this letter are not those of all riverdalians. and as an individual, i certainly share the stated end objectives in it (as i am sure most riverdalians would as well) but i must disagree most emphatically with the inappropriate linkages made to those objectives and the price we will all pay if we continue to let ourselves get mired down doing nothing as a result.
"January 13, 2009
City of Edmonton
Dear Mayor and Councilors,
On December 9, 2008 we (Donna Koziak and Susan Evans-Davies) participated in a public meeting called by the Boyle Renaissance Advisory Committee to preview their report to City Council. We attended on behalf of the Riverdale Community League; we were delegated to present and support the following resolution:
“Riverdale Community league has serious concerns about the Boyle Renaissance project as proposed. In particular there is a concern about the failure to meet the needs of the existing and shadow population of the whole Quarters/Boyle Renaissance proposal area.”
(Motion adopted by the Riverdale CL, General Meeting, Dec. 1, 200
At the January 5th general meeting of the Riverdale Community League we were directed to write this letter to draw your attention to the above Resolution and the reasons for it.
Neighborliness is a strong tradition in Riverdale; a tradition that enriches our community culture and enhances our quality of life. The area proposed for the Quarters and Boyle Renaissance development is a next-door-neighbor to Riverdale. We think it is fair to say that, over the years,
and in one way or another, our tradition of neighborliness has been extended to our adjoining communities. Children from the Boyle Street area are welcomed at our doors on Halloween, encouraged and welcomed to skate on our ‘no-skate-tag-required’ rink and skateboard park, and
to play in our playground with its Green Shack summer programs.
There are many stories of adults from “up the hill” being helped out in Riverdale with an hour’s paid work, a ride, a handout. When iHuman moved into premises adjacent to the border between Boyle Street and Riverdale, the Riverdale Community League officially welcomed them with visits, a donation, and invitations to use our skateboard park and community hall. Many Riverdalians walk or drive through the Boyle Street area daily on their way to work or school.
Indeed, a significant number of Riverdalians work and volunteer in various agencies like the Bissell Centre, HOPE Mission, Mustard Seed Church and Salvation Army – that serve Boyle Street.
The stresses that have befallen the Boyle Street area are very visible to Riverdalians in ways that may not be so visible for other Edmontonians. In recent years we have become aware that those stresses have reached a critical - in fact an intolerable - level.
For many years the catchment of low-cost housing (rooming houses) that Boyle Street provided, constituted an important resource for the City of Edmonton. Here the city’s most vulnerable – our low-income elderly, newly-arrived immigrants, aboriginal, de-institutionalized mentally ill, sufferers of substance abuse illnesses, and just plain poor folk – found shelter, services and community.
We have been concerned that over the past decade or two these resources were systematically destroyed through the condemnation and demolition of most of Boyle Street’s rooming houses. In the last few years we have become absolutely horrified as it became clearer and clearer that any planning that underlay the changes in Boyle Street was either unconscionably callous and lacking in foresight, or lacking altogether. The destruction of low-cost shelter in Boyle Street was not matched in any sufficient way by construction of new suitable housing. Most of the existing residents were simply displaced. Their tragic circumstances were compounded when foreseeable changes to Alberta’s economy brought an influx of new Edmontonians from Northern Alberta and other parts of Canada who needed low cost housing, and existing Edmonton apartment-dwellers lost their housing as rent increases outstripped incomes.
As stated above, Riverdalians see what is happening in Boyle Street in ways that may be hidden from other Edmontonians. We see how many of the displaced folk still cling to the old area. We see them pushing their shopping carts of possessions across the empty lots, like deer crossing
clear-cuts. We see them lying on the sidewalks around the Hope Mission in the freezing cold. We hear about and attend the funerals for deaths attributable to homelessness.
Moreover, in Riverdale itself we see the people who live for weeks or months at a time in broken down cars parked on our streets, under the big spruce trees that surround our community hall, in vacant garages and sheds that back onto our lanes, and in countless camps in the river valley
that surrounds us. We see them roam our alleyways at night scavenging for returnable bottles to supplement their inadequate or non-existent social service income. We want to stress very clearly that we do not simply want these people “gone”, or out of sight and out of mind. We are
deeply, deeply worried about them. WE WANT THEM TO HAVE HOMES.
At the December 9th meeting we were told repeatedly that the Boyle Renaissance and Quarters projects will not alleviate the problems we are concerned about, that we shouldn’t expect them to, and that they had never been intended to. Our point in writing this letter is to say – to demand - that they should. They must! The short-sighted and inadequate references to “integrative”, “mixed” or “low-income” housing being considered along with the “up-market” housing proposed for the Quarters simply does not address this issue of accommodation for the current homeless and marginal-income population that has called this area home for years. The social, governmental and health resources that this population depends upon are located in the Boyle Street area already.
We demand that any planning and development initiatives in the Boyle Street area give priority to the needs – particularly for housing, but also for social and commercial services - of existing residents and also of the “shadow population” who are currently attached to the Boyle Street and
surrounding river valley areas, although they may lack actual residences. We demand that any available provincial or federal funds and legal and political resources be dedicated toward this end first and foremost. Only when no Edmontonian is forced to live in the river valley or sleep in the LRT tunnels can we “afford” to allocate resources to upscale inner city development or to build new arenas.
Donna KoziakOn behalf of the Riverdale Community League"