Benches

Image: A bench in an Edmonton Transit System bus shelter, with a metal bar in the middle to prevent laying down on the bench.

Image: A bench in an Edmonton Transit System bus shelter, with a metal bar in the middle to prevent laying down on the bench.

 
 

Benches

Throughout Edmonton, benches found in public spaces have been designed in many different ways to prevent people from lying down on them. The purpose of these designs are to make them impossible to sleep on.

There is a significant number of people in Edmonton who do not have a home, and for whom shelters are not a viable option to stay overnight. These people sleep outdoors wherever they can, and the City has taken steps to prevent them from using benches.

Image: A public bench along 101 Street, with metal ridges dividing its surface.

There are two primary tactics used for this end, and both are visible throughout Edmonton. The first is the placement of a physical barrier in the centre of the bench. These often take the form of armrests, but not always (as in the case of many ETS bus shelters). These do not improve the benches, and in fact reduce the number who can sit on them comfortably.

Image: A public bench on Jasper Avenue, with a metal bar in the centre.

While it would be unreasonable to expect Edmonton to design benches into more comfortable beds, this design element represents a dehumanizing approach to homelessness. Rather than invest further into alleviating homelessness, the City has put time and effort into designing public spaces that allow use by those with the privilege of a home, and rebuff those with nowhere to rest.

Image: A bench along 102 Avenue, divided by metal bars along it's length.

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