The Vanier Trickle

The “Vanier Trickle” is what Sandy Hill gets from being located near Vanier, one of the more run-down areas in Ottawa. We looked at a few rentals there before we settled in Sandy Hill. We noticed that every time we went to look at a home, there were people right out front walking around who were clearly on some intense drugs. One lady looked like she needed an excorcism. My girlfriend felt particularly unsafe so we decided that the really cheap rent wasn’t worth our safety or peace of mind.

Now that we are in Sandy Hill, one neighbourhood over, separated with a river in between, we just get the Vanier Trickle instead. There are a few homeless folks, and some sketchy characters wandering through behind our homes, looking through the garbage and recycling for bottles and cans that can be returned for a few cents. It’s only uncomfortable when people look into our windows while we are eating dinner or changing in our bedroom, otherwise, people are people, and no one is above the next person.

When I lived in Calgary, I got to know the same few homeless people around my part of town. There was the guy who would tell jokes, flip his had onto his head, and wish you “God bless” as he walked between the vehicles at a red light.

There was Livingston, who would play the saxophone near the Stampede grounds.

There’s that guy near Sunridge mall who asks for money, but when you give him a Red Bull instead he says, “Thanks man! Now I’ll be up all night asking people for money!”

You get to know familiar faces and you build rapport and make acquaintances out of the people around you.

In Ottawa, I find that the homeless population is much more active and more visible. Because there are people on most corners in the downtown core, and even in our neighbourhood on the outskirts of downtown, I can’t decide who I want to give my change to or buy food for.

I’ve had a homeless fellow try to scam me, after telling me he needed diapers for his baby. He said I should go into the corner store and buy him a Giant Tiger card to prove he wasn’t spending the money on drugs. Knowing full well the store didn’t sell Giant Tiger gift cards, he sent my gullible self in and after seeing me realize they don’t carry the cards, he said, just go to the ATM over there and give me the $20 from there. He knew I had already committed to helping get him diapers, so then the “gift card” had instanlty turned into “cash”. I told him he’s not getting anything because I knew what he was doing, and he called me a “dick!” as I walked away.

There’s been two other times that people asking for money won’t accept the food or coffee I offer them, which feels slightly embarrassing, having your kind deed rejected.

I’ve come to realize that some of the “homeless” people in Ottawa, aren’t actually homeless. That’s just my assumption. Carl hangs out on the corner by my work, just to greet people. He’s told me about his old home, moving into a new home, and the numerous pets he has. I don’t even have a pet, partially because of the cost. It just goes to show, you never know what someone’s circumstances are like, so never judge a person by their clothing or means of earning money.