Calgary

Review incorrectly implied consumption site caused neighbourhood ranking to drop, magazine says

Alberta's supervised consumption site review incorrectly implied that a magazine dropped a neighbourhood's liveability ranking due to the presence of an SCS, the magazine's editor says.

Avenue Magazine said Beltline's drop simply had to do with a change in how restaurants are weighted

The Sheldon Chumir health centre in the Beltline is home to Calgary's only supervised consumption site but Avenue Magazine Calgary said the SCS has nothing to do with the neighbourhood's ranking on its annual survey. (Google Street View)

Alberta's supervised consumption site review incorrectly implied that a magazine dropped a neighbourhood's liveability ranking due to the presence of an SCS, the magazine's editor says.

Avenue Magazine Calgary compiles an annual list of the city's best neighbourhoods, based on reader surveys, and data from the City of Calgary, Calgary police, and Walk Score, among other groups.

Between 2018 and 2019, Calgary's Beltline dropped from the first on the list to 32nd — a drop the province's review attributed to Calgary's only supervised consumption site being located in the Sheldon Chumir health centre, across from Central Memorial Park and nearby small businesses and condos.

"Overall, perceptions of the neighbourhood, known as the Beltline, have shown a steep decline recently. According to Avenue Calgary Magazine, liveability in 'the Beltline was ranked number one in 2018 and number two in 2017. This year it ranked 32nd,'" the review stated.

But Avenue says that implication is false.

"The change in ranking was unrelated to the Sheldon Chumir or to an overall decline in liveability," editor Käthe Lemon wrote in an update to last year's ranking, posted after the province's review was released.

She pointed to the original article which appeared in the magazine's August 2019 issue, which stated that a single change to how the number of restaurants in a neighbourhood are considered is what toppled the Beltline's spot.

"This year we asked if there was an ideal number of restaurants. In other words, are more restaurants always better, or is there a maximum above which a neighbourhood just has more stuff but isn't necessarily improving," the original article read.

"For the Beltline, which has among the best access to restaurants in the city, it simply came down to a case of too much of a good thing."

Lemon confirmed to CBC that Avenue was not contacted about the quote used in the report.

The UCP-appointed Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee was tasked last summer with looking into the socio-economic impacts of the sites. Its findings were released on March 5.

"The Government of Alberta did not author this report. We thank the expert-led committee who worked tirelessly to comb through a significant amount of data and provide a comprehensive and thorough review of supervised consumption sites," Kassandra Kitz, press secretary for the associate minister of mental health and addictions, said in an emailed statement.

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