Become part of the solution not the problem

Drop-In Centre boss should pull head out of the sand

Re: “Downtown shelter feels squeezed blames city hall” by Jeremy Klaszus May 28-June 3 2009.

Notice to Dermot Baldwin: Please remove your head from your ass before it becomes permanently stuck.

My partner and I have lived in one of the recent condo developments in East Village for the past five years so we have more than a bit of insight into the situation here. Like many of our neighbours we have no problems co-existing with two homeless shelters in our neighbourhood. I would even say it was a sense of social responsibility that attracted us to live in this area.

What we aren’t willing to tolerate however is a non-stop parade of drug dealers and crack-addicted prostitutes who shuffle through the area parking themselves on the doorsteps of the shelters to solicit business entice more users into the cycle of addiction and raise general havoc throughout the city using East Village as their base. The rundown once-decrepit appearance of the neighbourhood — which Dermot Baldwin has fought so hard to preserve through his opposition to any kind of improvements to the area — has served as a magnet for these kinds of predators.

It’s hard to imagine what sort of “green space” he is missing so dearly. Prior to the excavations currently being conducted around the Drop-In Centre the only “park” in the area was a dusty needle-strewn garbage-ridden strip by the river where knife fights broke out and once a week an evangelist with a bullhorn came to spew his raving homophobic sermons at a volume that could be heard in Bridgeland.

If Dermot Baldwin actually came to the table to discuss proactive sensible development of East Village he might make allies with future businesses and institutions that could provide jobs and training for residents of his shelter. He accuses others of bypassing rules and processes when he himself has been caught red-handed in the past trying to redevelop the old Billingsgate property into a temporary fly-by-night shelter without seeking proper city permits and authorizations.

I don’t doubt that in his heart Dermot Baldwin cares deeply about the homeless people who inhabit his shelter. But it’s time for him to pull his head out of the sand and think about the role of the Drop-In Centre within the larger context of a changing Calgary rather than fighting to maintain a regressive status quo.

Steve Gin