Renters in Calgary feel cheated amidst pandemic

Keeping Quality Company: Jacklyn Dahlberg with her cat Xena in her downtown Calgary apartment on  Jan. 25. Dahlberg has had Xena since she was a kitten and is grateful for the animal companionship to keep her sane during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Celina Mullen/The Press)

Apartment renters in downtown Calgary are feeling cheated during the pandemic after paying more to live in the city’s core.

Many Calgarians choose to pay extra for downtown living, which provides easy access and closeness to amenities and some of Calgary’s top dining. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, they haven’t been able to experience what they feel they’ve paid for.

“I’m paying extra to live here specifically for the apartments’ amenities, like the gym, and I’m not able to use them,” said Jacklyn Dahlberg, a downtown resident.

Dahlberg, who frequented her complex’s gym, is frustrated with the shutdowns.

“Pre-COVID-19, and even during COVID-19, 97 per cent of people knew that when you use the machine you have to wipe it down because no one wants to sit in someone else’s sweat pool,” she said.

In Dahlberg’s residence a communal puzzle has remained open for those wishing to participate.

“Having the puzzle open is probably more of an issue than having the gym open. I understand there will be sweat on the floor, but if you’re going in there and you wear a mask or something, and we’re wiping down the machines it’s safer, and it bugs me that they’ll keep the puzzle stuff out and they’ll allow us to do that but they won’t let us use the gym,” said Dahlberg.

“The limited amenity availability, and elevator shortage have been such a challenge for me in my building,” said Rod Dow, a downtown resident.

Dow, who lives alone, chose his building for the wide range of amenities such as the gym and the social room, but because of Alberta’s second lockdown during the pandemic he has not been able to use them.

The amenities are technically no charge, but we still pay for their maintenance, so I think we should get a rent reduction if we can’t use them. – Rod Dow

When talking about what he does to curb the boredom Dow said, “It’s been lots of TV, internet, food and alcohol, but it’s nice being so close to restaurants that offer takeout. I do miss when I could go out with friends for a bite during the summer when there were less restrictions.”

“I do still think there is a reason to live downtown and I do really think that it still can be an incredibly fun place, less so since the pandemic, but I am only three blocks away from my physiotherapist, and I’m only two blocks away from the grocery store,” said Dahlberg.

While apartment living has changed in downtown Calgary, the close proximity to essential services still remains a huge bonus.