Some public amenities in Calgary’s up-and-coming East Village have been scaled back because they were being used for what officials call “inappropriate behaviour.”
Two automated public toilets at River Walk Plaza that used to be open 24/7 are now only available on special occasions, and 10 lounge chairs that were scattered around the riverside patios have been put in storage.
Susan Veres, spokeswoman for the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) — the company responsible for redeveloping East Village and the wider Rivers District, said “the infrastructure wasn’t being used in the manner it was intended.”
“Conduct that is not favourable for the neighbourhood, that's not in keeping with the image that we're portraying in the East Village,” she said.
Washrooms used for drug use, says officer
Jeff Dyck, a Calgary police resource officer for East Village, was more blunt about what was happening inside the $200,000 washrooms.
"It's out of sight out of mind, so people would sneak in there and use drugs,” he said.
Some people also used the toilets and the lounge chairs for sleeping, Veres said.
“They’re not designed to be a bed and breakfast,” she said. "We will provide seating but not seating that allows for people to relax or sleep eight or nine hours a day.”
Calgary’s largest facility for homeless people, the Drop-In and Rehab Centre, is just west of the East Village.
'It's a shame'
Sheila Lockrem, who has lived in the East Village for six years, was disappointed to hear about the mistreated amenities.
"It's a shame that you start making the area nice and someone has to misuse what they make there," she said.
Veres said once the East Village starts to get more populated, the amenities at River Walk Plaza will return.
“Those chairs will be back,” she said.
Construction is underway on two major mixed-use residential projects.
Several other projects are also in the works, including a 303-room Hilton Garden Inn, redevelopment of the Simmons Building as a culinary destination, construction of the National Music Centre and a new central branch of the Calgary Public Library.