Friday, August 16, 2013

Better Underwater Than Old

Eight weeks ago we had a terrible flood which inundated entire neighbourhoods. In contrast to mayors in some smaller communities around Calgary, our mayor, Naheed Nemshi, was a tower of unflappable strength and showed incredible leadership during the crisis. There is no doubt that he is the most popular man in Calgary right now.

The Alberta government stepped in and began giving those who were displaced by the flood debit cards worth $1250 for each adult and $600 for each child in every family within 48 hours. Funds are being made available, in the billions of dollars, to help people repair their homes where possible, or to move and buy or build elsewhere if their flood damaged home sits in the newly assessed flood plain.

Volunteers have come out by the 10s of thousands to help complete strangers clean up, restore, donate. Albertans pulling together. Benefit concerts are an almost nightly occurrence with big name entertainers here to raise money for flood victims. There's a huge groundswell of community spirit.

Which is why I was dumbfounded to see on last night's news that the Kerby Centre, a local non-profit offering a wide variety of services to Calgary's seniors is going to be forced to close six of the 15 beds in its Shelter Program for Homeless Seniors  unless it can raise the $207,000 to keep the program running for the next year. The shelter housed 56 clients last years, for an average stay of about two and a half months while they got back on their feet, were medically stabilized and found a place to live. The Alberta government has turned down their requests for help.

The Shelter turns away many more seniors than it can house, but is life-saving for the clients who find a place there. One elderly couple with serious medical issues spoke of sleeping in their car in the months after they lost their home due to the inability to keep up the mortgage payment after the husband fell ill. Hungry, sick, exhausted and no longer able to endure the stress, they were so desperate they had decided to end their lives when a friend found them a place at the Kerby Shelter.

The government says it will give flood victims up to the amount of the price of the average house in Calgary to implement repairs - the average house in Calgary is now $460,000 - and that's ONE house. Maybe someone should flood the Kerby Homeless Shelter and apply for flood aid! 

This makes one suspect that the couple who owns a $2 Million property along the Elbow is much more important to the Alberta government than an elderly senior.

Where's that community spirit now? Who is going to do the benefit concert for the 80 year old who has no place to go?

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