Recently, our nearby 7-11 store closed. The manager had had enough of broken windows and threats to employee safety, so they decided to move. This came as a big surprise to us because we thought 7-11 stores were eternal. Obviously, we were wrong.
Our neighbourhood is, mostly, a very pleasant one, with tree-lined streets and an active community centre. Every year there is a street festival called Kaleido which brings together the music, dancing, arts, food, and fun of the area’s many ethnic groups. There are enclaves from a wide variety of places including the Caribbean, Somalia, Portugal, Pakistan, and Japan as well as from Canada’s first nations.
Like many neighbourhoods, though, we have one street that seems to attract less desirable characters. Ours is 118 Avenue, and it struggles to maintain small shops and businesses providing services in older buildings while homeless people, bike thieves, and prostitutes all try to survive in the same vicinity. In the four years I have lived here, I have seen many enterprises come and go, and some have been closed and shuttered all that time.
When I first arrived I was surprised to realize that there are one or two hairdressers on every block. I hardly ever see them actually cutting hair, so its a mystery to me how they continue to sustain themselves. We also seem to have more than our fair share of pawn shops and payday loan businesses.
At the same time, we have flourishing restaurants, specialty grocery stores, churches, car dealerships, cafes, banks, and services that contribute a lot to the community; they also keep their sidewalks and windows clean. It’s a really mixed assortment of people trying to make a go of things.
The closure of the 7-11 store inspired me to view 118 Avenue from a slightly different perspective. I decided to see how many windows were broken or boarded up. I remembered that, back in 1982, James Q. Wilson and George R. Kelling introduced the criminological theory that broken windows are an indication of social disorder and, if they are left unrepaired, lead to further crime and anti-social behaviour. Whether or not they are correct, it bothers me when buildings are not maintained in good condition. I feel as though the owners don’t care about me, their neighbour. It’s personal.
So, I took these pictures. They don’t reflect the street in all its glorious multicultural, industrious, entirety. These are just the broken and boarded-up windows, which are only a small number compared to the many that are in good shape. Even so, they stand out and I wish their owners would restore them.