Apartment life in Boyle Street has been a positive experience for many renters.
The Riverside Towers sign. Paula E. Kirman
Tower at 8620 Jasper Avenue. Paula E. Kirman
Tower at 8610 Jasper Avenue. Paula E. Kirman
Flowers in bloom in the planters and around the main sign. Tracey Anderson
If you venture to the east end of Boyle Street on Jasper Avenue (82 Street to 91 Street), you will find of a row of highrise towers. Some are condos, but most offer apartments for rent.
You would not be alone in assuming that people who rent are on the move: newcomers waiting to find a permanent address, young people waiting to buy a house, and seniors whose advancing years require a less demanding lifestyle than home ownership entails.
This is partially true. But since moving to Riverside Towers five years ago, I have learned that a significant number of my neighbours have chosen to live here for years, even decades. They like the lifestyle.
Quite a few have lived at Riverside Towers for 10 years or even 20. And the three people I interviewed for this story have lived here for more than 30 years – two of them since the building’s earliest days in the early 1970s. One moved in while the upper floors were still being added. The third long-term resident I spoke with volunteers to create the beautiful gardens out front for all of us to enjoy. It is her home.
They concede that Riverside Towers presents certain problems. One issue is the advancing age of the property, coming on to 50 years. Ancient plumbing calls for regular water shut-offs, the windows sometimes howl when the wind is high, and you have to learn not to use too many electrical appliances so as not to switch the breaker.
Communal living presents some challenges – shared laundry, a certain amount of noise from neighbours, even the occasional visit from the police when things get a bit rowdy.
However, as one of the interviewees says, “There is no perfect place.” And Riverside Towers has a lot to offer.
First, there is location, location, location. Views of the river from apartment windows and balconies, and proximity to Kinnaird Park, which allows you to commune with nature just a short walk away. Living within walking distance of downtown, which in my case means much-valued easy access to the Winspear concert hall and the Citadel Theatre, as well as movie theatres. Proximity to the beautiful new Commonwealth Recreation Centre and the stadium. Two of the people I interviewed are avid Edmonton Eskimos fans who have had season tickets for decades. Little Italy and Chinatown are nearby.
Apartment dwellers appreciate having a manager to take care of maintenance, security, and issues with problem tenants. Some like being able to leave for three months with a feeling that their home is protected. Some like to avoid such tasks as shoveling snow and raking leaves.
For many Albertans, home ownership is a major goal, one to be achieved through great effort and considerable financial sacrifice. For others, apartment living is the way to go.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.