By Bryan Weismiller, Calgary Herald May 10, 2012
 

An apartment owned by a Calgary homeless agency received a corporate boost on Wednesday.

Nexen announced it was donating $450,000 to the Sundial facility, adding to the $300,000 pledged last July.

“For us, it’s about being a good neighbour,” Kevin Reinhart, CEO and interim president of the energy firm, said in a release.

The downtown complex was purchased by the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre for $18.5 million in 2009.

Reinhart said the funds will help pay down the mortgage.

Located on 6th Avenue S.W., the highrise houses a mix of tenants.

Half of the building is market renters, while the other half are people moving out of shelters.

It took time for “legacy tenants” to warm up to their new neighbours, but it’s working, said John Rowand, director of programs.

“The relationships change once they get to know each other,” Rowand said.

Sundial resident Karen Steele recalls sharing the street with the city’s homeless for years.

When Steele moved into an apartment last year, her new neighbours included members of the Calgary Stampeders.

Squeezed into an elevator with burly football players, Steele didn’t hesitate to take a few friendly jabs.

“I’d tease them when they had to practice in the cold,” she said with a laugh. “They’d be whining.”

Steele, 46, has survived the cold – and more. Homeless for four years, the born-and-raised Calgarian had oral cancer.

“I was lost,” she said. “I didn’t have anything saved up.” Down and out, she turned to the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre for help.

Steele moved drop-in centre’s Sundial facility last year, only weeks after undergoing surgery.

She now occupies one of the 119 units for low-income Calgarians.

bweismiller@calgaryehrald.com

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