Sunalta residents clean up after an outdoor campfire

A fire damaged part of a mural in the Sunalta WildFlower Garden, photographed Wednesday, November 17, 2021. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Sunalta residents are cleaning up a warehouse last week following a fire that damaged an outdoor garden area and a nearby mural.

On November 10, a warehouse in Sunalta Wildflower Garden caught fire and damaged a nearby mural, the garage it was painted on, a nearby bench, and a storage bin.

“Our congregation has left a lot of mess,” said a message from the Sunalta Community Association to the congregation.

“This terrible accident has shaken many in our community as we mourn our garden and continue to deal with the complex social problems that affect Sunalta.”

Local residents got in touch shortly thereafter to help clean up. However, the letter stated that a number of biomaterials had been found in the area that were unsafe for volunteers.

The city was called for help.

According to the city, after the November 10 fire, the Calgary Police and the Bylaws camp team were called in. Contractors were commissioned to clean up the site. “A regrettable administrative error” resulted in the clean-up team not showing up at the right time. You went to the wrong place thinking the job was done.

“We’re getting in touch with our contractor to address this issue,” the city said in a response.

Local residents volunteered last Sunday to clean up the remains of the camp and fire.

Local resident Lori Klassen said this was a meeting place for the community.

“It’s disappointing. This is a place for the community members to enjoy. And I think it feels disrespectful and disappointing that someone would let that happen, ”she said.

The good news is the work already underway to repair and restore the area, Klassen said.

Outpouring of support

The charred remains of a fire that damaged part of a mural in the Sunalta WildFlower Garden, photographed Wednesday November 17, 2021. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The community is focused on their ambitious Imagine Sunalta Community Hub. It is a place that provides support and programs to the residents of the area.

They recently received a $ 2 million grant from the City of Calgary to help them continue their work.

A statement from the Sunalta Community Association said there has been a surge in support from local residents and city services.

“There are people in our community or in transit who are struggling, and we are in contact with various Calgary resources and nonprofits that are working with these vulnerable populations to provide them with the support they need,” said in the explanation.

“We are very grateful to all those who have offered in the past week and in the future to support us in dealing with the complex social problems of our community and our city.”

District 8 Cont. Courtney Walcott said it was a sad combination of events. His office works with the community.

“My hope is simple,” said Walcott.

“And it’s just about really making sure that when things happen like this we don’t go into a reactive mode, but rather go into a very proactive mode and start engaging people in a discussion about what the current landscape of non-placement is.”

He acknowledged that sometimes different resources work in silos on these issues.

Walcott wants an integrated approach to addressing these challenges in communities. He cited the Stephen Avenue Hub as an example.

It’s inefficient to play a “phone brand game,” Walcott said. Better to show up at the office and say, “Hey, we have this problem and every resource is available to support it in a physical location embedded in our communities.”

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