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If you were disturbed by the anti-homeless spikes in London, consider Calgary


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http://metronews.ca/voices/urban-compass-calgary/1088113/if-you-were-disturbed-by-the-anti-homeless-spikes-in-london-consider-calgary/

If you use metal spikes to keep homeless people away from certain spots, you risk an angry public reaction from those who deem you cruel.

But if you use a more subtle design — the kind that’s popping up everywhere in Calgary these days — you’ll likely get away with it.

Residents of a luxury apartment in London experienced the first response after somebody tweeted photos of their building entrance last month. The shots showed a small nook outside the door that could presumably double as a sleeping spot for a homeless person but for rows of metal spikes embedded in the concrete.

Twitter users went ballistic, pointing out that vulnerable people were now being treated like pigeons.

It’s easy to condemn the London spikes as inhumane, but the same thing is happening in cities around the world, including Calgary.

Writing for The Atlantic last month, Robert Rosenberger noted that the London spikes “are by no means the only form of homeless-deterrent technology; they are simply the most conspicuous.”

He continued: “Will public concern over the spikes extend to other less obvious instances of anti-homeless design? Perhaps the first step lies in recognizing the political character of the devices all around us.”

So let’s look at our city. What do we see?

Well, if you’ve been on a transit platform lately, you’ll notice that benches — traditionally long and flat — are being replaced with curvy benches that have metal ridges dividing the surface into several individual seats.

These ridges are not armrests; they serve no practical use for someone waiting for a train. They do, however, render the surface unusable as a place to lie down.

Similar public seating is popping up all over the city in parks, on streets and elsewhere. Look around and you’ll find sloped and divided seating that is designed to move people along.

Earlier this year, the city-owned Calgary Municipal Land Corporation removed its green lounge chairs (extra comfy!) in East Village because “the infrastructure wasn’t being used in the manner it was intended.” Sleeping was one of these unintended uses.

The public washrooms in East Village also got locked up.

Now the outdoor furniture is pulled out and the washrooms get unlocked for events that attract well-to-do folks from outside the neighbourhood.

When it’s just the locals around — many of whom are rough sleepers — these small comforts stay under lock and key.

The rise in anti-homeless design has coincided with several laudable local anti-poverty efforts including the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and the city’s poverty reduction strategy.

These efforts focus on making our community more inclusive and ensuring that everybody has basic needs, including housing.

Given this context, it’s a shame that our public spaces are being remade with hostility toward vulnerable Calgarians.

If we’re disturbed by the spikes in London, we should be equally disturbed by this.

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When you start removing options for desperate people, it usually isn't a great "solution".

There is a (suspected) homeless guy who sleeps on the floor in the corner of the debit machine enclosure at my bank...he's there late at night. It was a bit unnerving at first, but I quickly grew to know he was harmless and just let him be while I went about my business. I don't know his deal (I tried to talk to him once, but he is a bit agitated and communication is fragmented).. But I know that he has a place in the world, just as I do.

Homelessness isn't something that can be chased away or kept at bay. It's everyone's problem to deal with and most of us are just a paycheque or two away. Hardship can fall on anyone...what a cruel world to react with "get lost".

And what rocket scientist decided that locked bathrooms is a good idea? So it's much better to deny access to toilets and have them go in the streets?

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When you start removing options for desperate people, it usually isn't a great "solution".

There is a (suspected) homeless guy who sleeps on the floor in the corner of the debit machine enclosure at my bank...he's there late at night. It was a bit unnerving at first, but I quickly grew to know he was harmless and just let him be while I went about my business. I don't know his deal (I tried to talk to him once, but he is a bit agitated and communication is fragmented).. But I know that he has a place in the world, just as I do.

Homelessness isn't something that can be chased away or kept at bay. It's everyone's problem to deal with and most of us are just a paycheque or two away. Hardship can fall on anyone...what a cruel world to react with "get lost".

And what rocket scientist decided that locked bathrooms is a good idea? So it's much better to deny access to toilets and have them go in the streets?

Spot on, Deb.

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the spikes are cheaper than hiring security to tell people to move on..... i got to the ferries late one night 2 hours away from the morning sailing i was just sitting by the front door and security came and told me to leave.... and other terminals have that annoying buzzing that is put there on purpose so people wont loiter and sleep there... and now there are a ton of places that use that buzzer how come these spikes are getting such a bad rap? anyways ive always said if i was homeless with no prospects of turning it around id just start heading south , i dont think homeless in mexico have a problem of finding a warm place to sleep at night

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Typical Calgary. Another reason for us to CRUSH them when we vs them..

Anyways, It's sad. And these guys are trying to get shelter, food and water. Placing Spikes so that the homeless have no place to seek shelter.. it pisses me right off. :mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:

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I’m sorry but having to ride the Calgary train at night is not a pleasant experience. Sure for every hand full of homeless there is they decent guy who wants to mind his own business but a great majority of them are on the train shooting heroine, leaving needles on the train floor. Last year on my way home from the flames game I had a guy freak out and attempt to fight me because when I told him I’d buy him Mcdonalds rather than give him money. He then preceded to follow me home until my security stopped him at the front of my building and I’m a built guy. I would never allow my wife to take the train alone at night. I pay a good deal of money to live close to my office, but I also want to feel safe at night. Again not all homeless people are this way but it’s not just food shelter and water they want. Most homeless would gladly trade that in for more drugs.

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I’m sorry but having to ride the Calgary train at night is not a pleasant experience. Sure for every hand full of homeless there is they decent guy who wants to mind his own business but a great majority of them are on the train shooting heroine, leaving needles on the train floor. Last year on my way home from the flames game I had a guy freak out and attempt to fight me because when I told him I’d buy him Mcdonalds rather than give him money. He then preceded to follow me home until my security stopped him at the front of my building and I’m a built guy. I would never allow my wife to take the train alone at night. I pay a good deal of money to live close to my office, but I also want to feel safe at night. Again not all homeless people are this way but it’s not just food shelter and water they want. Most homeless would gladly trade that in for more drugs.

Yeah they're pretty agitated after sporting events. Whenever I go to Leafs/Jays games, there's always a lot of them after. Obviously you cant help them all but they get extremely jealous when you help one but not the rest.

And quite frankly, the bum was probably mad at you because he wanted money for drugs or booze and not McDonalds even though that's a great gesture.

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While I consider myself a supporter of the oppressed and the unfortunates, my support generally stops with homeless people other than the occasional spare change. Even then they complain about how little you are giving them.

I know that it is generally the society's failing as much as it is their own lack of abilities that put them into their position, but the best way to help them is to have a healthy economy, which would put less of them on streets, and more money into the government's hands to help those that still need help.

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If there's shelters there's no need to sleep on these benches.

You would be surprised how quickly any midly secluded corner quickly fills with needles and condoms - and you don't need to be in a big city to see this either.

Eliminating these areas is a clear design choice.

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I'm not disturbed in the least about the spikes here in Calgary, some of which I see right outside the c-train. I hope they add more of these. If the homeless want retrofitted public spaces to cater to them sleeping rent free, I'd recommend the retrofitted Vancouver benches.

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