I live in a fairly notorious Calgary neighbourhood. When I mention where I reside, some people raise their eyebrows and ask me if I feel safe there.
It’s a lower-income community that has a reputation for higher levels of crime and drug use than other parts of the city. As I wrote in a column in 2019, I moved here about 16 months ago because it was in between where my fiancée works, in the south of Calgary, and where I work, in Airdrie. Living in this community means our commutes take similar amounts of time.
Despite some of the drawbacks we heard about before moving to this neighbourhood, I’ve come to really enjoy living here. My apartment is a short walk from a shopping plaza that includes all the businesses I frequent on a regular basis, and in the opposite direction, an LRT station is a similarly short distance away. I enjoy being close to these amenities.
I also live close to the roads I drive regularly, and can easily cycle downtown along the Bow River pathway and to a few of the city’s most underrated parks. When I go for a walk to catch the sunset, I’m provided with a beautiful view of Calgary’s skyline just a few blocks from my door, with the Rocky Mountains in the background.
While I’ve noticed some of the illicit activities associated with this neighbourhood, I wouldn’t say it’s impacted my quality of life. Sure, there's a house down the street where the residents might be engaging in some illegal sales, but I’ve never felt apprehensive when walking by that house. Cashiers at local businesses are genuine and most residents are friendly and give a curt nod when walking by.
Living here has taught me about gentrification, which is a double-edged sword. Gentrification is when a large number of wealthier people move into a lower-income neighbourhood, usually due to beneficial location and less expensive housing.
Even in my short time here, I’ve noticed gentrification is becoming more evident. Most of the community’s new in-fills are new and modern looking, often sandwiched between older, smaller bungalows that were built several decades ago. Even my condo complex, which was built in the last six years, is an example of this phenomenon.
While gentrification can help make a neighbourhood more attractive, it can also be to the detriment of long-time residents. As property values go up, so will taxes and the cost of living, which can price out residents who have lived there for many years.
A few weeks ago, my landlord notified me he was listing the condo for sale, which means my fiancée and I might soon have to find another place to call home. If we end up leaving this neighbourhood, I’ll look back on my time here fondly.