So you can’t afford housing in Calgary. Are you drinking any more than the rest of us?

The issue of a ground floor liquor store has the Calgary Drop-In Centre folks a little irked.

In April, the Drop-In Centre announced the impossible. In the midst of a recession, it managed to buy an $18.5-million apartment building — centrally located in the Beltline area.

It’s known as the Sundial Building. Drop-In cobbled together $7 million from the Alberta government, money from selling a building to another charity, and convinced TD Bank to transfer an existing mortgage from the previous owners.

This means there will be subsidized housing in 81 one-bedroom, and 38 two-bedroom apartments billed out at 30 per cent of a resident’s income. Current tenants and the building manager are invited to stay for now.

One tenant is a ground floor liquor store, and the area alderman has expressed concerns.
“The assumption that every single homeless person is an alcoholic — it’s distressing that we create this barrier,” says Drop-In spokesperson Louise Gallagher.

Drinking is hardly the social custom of the poor. There’s alcoholism, and heavy drinking at all levels of society. Consider that drunk driving is still the leading cause of safety concern for Canadians. Meanwhile, drunk pedestrians are the most likely to be hit and killed.

Alcohol is a trigger for mental illness as it assaults brain chemistry. And now, as a physician friend told me at a party where I was about to sip a nice Malbec — alcohol is deemed a carcinogen, especially for women. Beyond the first 10-minute buzz, little good comes from alcohol.

Sundial is fortunate enough to have a social mission. Those battling addiction, or even those inclined to drink, need to be able to enter the building’s doors without temptation.

It’s not time for political correctness to show that these tenants are like any other, and prove it by keeping a liquor store. By the way, upper class apartment buildings don’t have liquor stores on the ground floor.

Sundial needs to be a celebration. A symbol of what’s best in compassion, caring and right to a home.

The liquor store is a tenant that simply must go.

The sooner, the better.

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