Red Deer Reality Rant #37 - Staying Warm in Red Deer
Hello. Welcome to another edition of Red Deer Reality Rant, where I speak to issues important to Red Deerians. It is really freezing outside and has been for several days. When the weather gets like this, I am always thankful that I have a warm place to live and don’t have to brave the outdoors too much. Generally, I enjoy winter. But it’s from a perspective that I have a choice to be warm.
Many Red Deerians are not so lucky. My heart goes out to them, especially the youth who should be with their families and not left to fend for themselves on the streets. Some of these youth have parents, who come from a generation who were not kind to their parents and should think about that before kicking out their own children. That’s my opinion though, and I am not privy to the trials of having kids. But in my opinion, no one deserves to be homeless.
Recently, I tried to use the bank machine at the downtown Red Deer Royal Bank at around 8pm on a Friday. It was locked, and even a bank card would not grant entry. I am a customer of the Royal Bank, for many years. I have noticed previously that sometimes when it’s very cold and the bank is closed, the city’s homeless will take shelter and sleep in the entrance way.
They have never bothered me, or asked for anything. If I had the means, I would give them some money. Sometimes, if I am carrying my lunch or some snacks, I will offer it to them. I don’t understand when people look down on homeless people. It could be any of us, at any point in time, and we should look upon them with empathy and kindness and do what we can to help.
A lot of citizens in Red Deer are afraid of the homeless. And yes, there are some who are aggressive. As a longtime downtown resident I have only encountered problems with persons who were high on drugs. Most homeless are benign and so downtrodden due to their situation that they are harmless. It is likely that the banks downtown have locked out access to the ATMs because of homeless people using the entrance ways to warm up, and it scares away their customers.
Red Deer needs a solution to this problem. Back when Red Deer hosted the Winter Games, most of the bus shelters were heated. Now this is not the case, and a lot of bus shelters have been removed and none are heated. I suggest that the city reinstates the heated bus shelters, and even further, installs a few heated shelters downtown where people can warm up.
Some Red Deer organizations like Potters Hands and the Mustard Seed, as well as the Salvation Army are working hard to help the homeless. This city needs to step up and do their part. I’m sure there will be a lot of cries about budgets and overspending. But, honestly, this is Canada and our government is not poor although there is much disparity between it’s citizens. And it’s damn cold. Canadian winters are no joke to anyone living on the streets. We need to have some compassion and humanity, especially in the winter season.