The city has decided to close Bridgeland Place, a centrally-located affordable housing development in operation for nearly 50 years.
Tenants were notified of the problem-plagued building’s closure on Monday morning.
“It’s troubling for me, and it makes me very sad that the City Council has decided on the recommendation of the city administration and the Calgary Housing Company to close Bridgeland Place,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Councillor Druh Farrell, Calgary Housing Company board chair, said building tenants and the daycare were told Monday of the closure.
“Tenants will be our main priority through this closure. We’ll be working hard to alleviate the disruption this will cause and to support them into other housing options,” said Farrell.
What’s wrong with the building?
Nearly 170 of the building’s 210 units are occupied. That’s roughly 330 people in the building, according to Tim Ward, coordinator, Rapid Housing and Partnerships at the City of Calgary.
A number of operating issues affect this building, including heating problems, high operating costs and poor environmental and energy performance.
Nenshi said since 1971 this building has been home to thousands of Calgarians.
“While the building is safe and habitable, the point has come where the logistics of maintenance and repair have just become too large to keep this building running in its current form,” he said.
Nenshi said the other big problem is that the heating ventilation system is insufficient to properly ventilate the building.
As people have vacated the properties, they haven’t been filled with new tenants, the city said.
Helping current residents make the transition
Nenshi said the City of Calgary, the Government of Alberta, and the Calgary Housing Company will be working with residents one-on-one providing relocation options over the next one to two years.
The property is owned by the City of Calgary and is financed by the Government of Alberta.
Farrell said the closure plan is deliberately gradual, taking place over the next two years. Farrell said it will prioritize the safety of current residents and focus on providing a smooth transition to alternative homes.
“Calgary Housing Company cares about its tenants and about providing services to those people,” Coun. Farrell said.
“The City and Calgary Housing Company will be doing everything to minimize the disruption to our tenants and members of the local community.”
Other tenants could be moved into other Calgary Housing units around the city.
“Our goal is to ensure that every single person ends up in a better housing situation than they currently have… and every single person finds a home that fits their needs,” Nenshi said.
Future plans for Bridgeland Place
Nenshi said they’ll conduct a feasibility study on both the land and building’s future.
“But I’ll tell you now that I will not support any plan that doesn’t involve the replacement unit for unit,” Nenshi said.
“I am also urging the provincial government today to commit to transferring dollar per dollar, some of their investment in our emergency shelter system to affordable housing.”
The decision was a painful one to make, said Coun. Farrell.
“As the mayor said, this is not a decision that we’re taking lightly. It’s the result of a lot of analysis to determine the best way forward for our tenants and for Calgarians,” Coun. Farrell said.
“Our aim is to have the building closed by early 2023. That date may change if unforeseen circumstances occur between now and then.”
Nenshi said the solution to affordable housing is ending poverty.
He said that’s why we’re examining housing strategies, poverty strategies and the recently-approved mental health strategies.
“Our affordable housing needs to be safe. It needs to be dignified and give people the stability they need to be able to move on with their lives,” he said.