Letter to the Editor: Displaced by Rogers Place

October 16, 2016

Dave Breakenridge
Deputy Editor
Edmonton Sun
10006 101 Street NW
Edmonton, AB
T5J 0S1

RE: “Rogers Place helping Edmonton take back the night” by Graham Hicks, October 14, 2016

Dear Mr. Breakenridge,

The recently developed Rogers Place arena and Ice District have raised concerns about the displacement of homeless and low-income populations in Edmonton’s downtown core. In an article published in the October 14 issue of the Edmonton Sun about Rogers Place, Graham Hicks wrote, “For once, the down ’n’ outers do not dominate the downtown come nightfall. For once, there are far more ‘normal people’.”

Rogers Place has not been an “all-around win” like Mr. Hicks’ article suggests. Boyle Street Community Services, which is kitty-corner to the new arena, was temporarily shut down for four days over Thanksgiving weekend because of a water break caused by nearby construction. This led to an increased number of people without access to much needed services and shows that not everyone is benefitting from the new developments.

In 2014, Homeward Trust Edmonton counted 2,307 homeless people including at least 335 children under the age of 18. With rising rental rates in downtown Edmonton becoming a concern for many low-income residents, the numbers of the 2016 Homeless Count, which starts October 19, will help determine which areas need extra attention and resources.

To prevent the gap between the rich and the poor from getting bigger, Edmontonians must do something. We need to actively lobby for additional services and resources to help our homeless and low-income populations. We also need to volunteer with local organizations like Homeward Trust Edmonton. We need to recognize that the effects of Rogers Place and the Ice District developments are not all positive and are felt more by those who don’t have the luxury of a warm bed after an Oilers game. If we want Edmonton to become an exceptional city, we need to view everyone as equal citizens and help these populations before it’s too late.

Sincerely,

Jasmin P. Joe