Party being held to combat perception of downtown Edmonton park

At first glance, Beaver Hills House Park is pretty, with a water feature and lush green space, but that is not what it’s known for. The park has a reputation of being unsafe, with people sleeping there, doing drugs, among other things.

The park is located on 105 Street and Jasper Avenue.

Henok Kassaye, who bought the adjacent building to the park, said he was skeptical of the area at first.

“It seemed quite neglected and sort of no attention put towards it, so it was a little bit of a concern, initially,” Kassaye said.

The plan is renovate his building and — with help from his sister — change the perception of the park.

Elsa is planning a Party in the Park, with live music, food vendors and artists.

“We want to make it feel safe for everybody, clean for everybody, we want to bring awareness of what is actually going on in the park,” Elsa said.

“We wanted to make sure that we ignite a mission to help rehabilitate vulnerable members of society that actually live here right now.”

This isn’t the first time people have tried to make a change to this park. In the early 1990s, a BBQ was held to encourage more people to use the space. Later, there were renovations to take out hills and hiding spots.

Almost 30 years later, it’s still not a popular spot for the downtown lunch crowd or those who live nearby.

“The problem isn’t about residents or how we revamp our parks or how we develop them,” The Mustard Seed program director Kris Knutson said.

“The issue is how do we help people who don’t have homes — don’t have houses and don’t have shelter — to get to the appropriate place?”

Knutson hopes this party will make a difference.

“As you get to know each other as neighbours and part of a community, and you get to know someone who struggles with homelessness and know their name, all of a sudden they’re not just a homeless person, but they’re a friend of mine that struggles and we need to find support for them,” Knutson said.

The party will kick off at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23 and go until 10 p.m. There is also a goal to raise $4,000 for the Mustard Seed.

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