The local Safeway grocery store in Calgary's northwest neighbourhood of Kensington is getting some negative attention online after installing rubber barriers in the parking lot meant to cut down on unwanted foot traffic and loitering.
Several Calgarians shared their disappointment with the decision on social media, calling the new features "ugly" and "anti-people."
Ellen Parker, communications director for the Kensinton Business Revitalization Zone, said some business owners had raised concerned with a "consistent population" outside the Safeway and of people sitting, smoking and littering on the property.
Shoppers seem to have mixed views on the barriers.
Patrice Gasova said he is happy the barriers are up because people were "hanging out there just smoking all the time and making a mess."
Sunnyside resident Carter Clarke said people hanging out in front of the store doesn't bother him that much but he can see both sides of the argument.
"I can definitely see why people have mixed feelings about it," Clarke said. "From the store's perspective, I can definitely see why they wouldn't want people just loitering around. But for the people that were sitting there … it's not a very nice way of handling that, I don't think."
'Some people did feel unsafe'
Keri Scobie, a spokeswoman for Sobeys, which owns the Safeway chain, said the barriers are a pilot project to address ongoing complaints from customers who felt hassled or unsafe.
She says the reaction to installing the barriers has given the company food for thought.
"Clearly, people have thoughts on the issue and I think it's great that people are sharing them," Scobi said, adding the company is open to alternatives if the barriers are "not the right solution."
Scobi said the store tried on-site security and signs before putting up the rubber blocks. The company will make a decision about whether to keep the caps in place early next month, Scobi said.
Parker said, "We hope that this space can change and evolve to echo the other values and the beautifying that we've worked hard to do so in the Kensington neighbourhood," adding that Safeway owns the property and the BRZ "support the changes."