St. Albert residents a buzz following "elitist" opinion piece
Sonia Sunger, ctvedmonton.ca
Chris and Karleena Perry of St. Albert submitted an opinion piece which was titled ‘Higher-earning families part of St. Albert's appeal' by the editors of the St. Albert Gazette and was published on Saturday.
The letter to the editor starts with opposition to the proposed low-income housing project and goes into length about Chris Perry moving his family and business to St. Albert so their children would have a "better upbringing."
In the letter he wrote the Habitat for Humanity build is a bad idea for St. Albert because "current residents will have to deal with the likeliness of children influenced by crime in our schools and adults in our community" and "our cost of living will increase as we will have to pay for low-income subsidies due to higher school fees or other taxes." He also writes "we don't want a police presence at family outings…we don't want to worry about drugs at elementary schools…what we want is for St. Albert to remain as it is with very few low-income households."
Perry also wrote:
"Being low income will make it difficult for children to be accepted in local schools. Like it or not, the children of St. Albert are high-standard children and have no place for low-income classmates. When we first moved to St. Albert our teen had a hard time fitting in because of money and it was hard on him. Now he is good, but it did not go away with just a loving hug — his status was accomplished once his friends saw our house and other possessions. It sounds cruel but that is how it is; ask your children, they will tell you."To view the full article on the St. Albert Gazette website click here.
The letter has left generated a lot of discussion in St. Albert and online with many outraged residents calling the piece "elitist" "disgusting" and "ignorant."
"I read about it on Twitter and I saw a lot of people making this fuss about this letter from this couple in St. Albert and I went to check it out myself and my jaw just dropped," said online blogger Paula Kirman.
Some residents say the letter plays off common stereotypes that people with money think they are better than people who earn less.
One woman who was moving in across the street from the proposed Habitat for Humanity build in the Akinsdale neighbourhood says the letter is outrageous.
"I think a letter like that goes against core values of generosity and being good to each other," said Akinsdale resident Neomi Lopinto. "It's just basic prejudice."
In a phone interview with CTV News Perry says that he "is not an elitist" and was simply trying to paint a picture of what could happen if the project is accepted. Perry says he understands why some people might find his comments ignorant, but he says he never meant to offend anyone. The St. Albert resident says his family lived in a low-income neighbourhood in Edmonton for several years and he does not think "low-income families are criminals."
"I am actually not backtracking because I am getting some criticism," said Perry in the phone interview.
When asked about the comments regarding low-income children not fitting in within St. Albert schools Perry said, "This is true, whether people like it or not…this does happen in St. Albert."
Perry says what he meant to get across in the letter is that he doesn't like the way developers are handling the project. He says he supports Habitat for Humanity, but not this project.
"The developers…have cut so many corners to get this project though – what's to say they're not going to cut corners when it comes to choosing the families to live here," said Perry on Sunday.
Habitat for Humanity and Apollo Developments want to build a 58-unit townhouse development in the Akinsdale neighbourhood, 15 of which would be designated for Habitat for Humanity. Perry lives in Kingswood, a newer neighbourhood which he says is a five minute walk from the proposed site.
"The way that they went about this process, there is a possibility that there is going to be one or two families that have a less-than-good intention of living in the area," continued Perry. "There are probably a couple of families that will sneak through that don't deserve it as much as other people do."
Perry says he wrote the letter on March 30th and submitted it to the St. Albert Gazette that day. He says editors emailed him back the next day asking if they could publish it. The letter was published on Saturday and that's when Perry says he began hearing criticism about his opinions.
"I was confused about why people were taking offence," Perry said.
The St. Albert resident says he sent the letter to his mother Saturday night and after reading it she told him it was discriminatory.
"She thought it was discriminatory when she first looked at it and that is probably something I didn't see because I wasn't writing it to be discriminatory."
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse will not say where council stands on the proposal, instead he's asking residents for more input and perhaps a different direction.
This is my response:
I am appalled over some of the comments on here. I live in the Alberta Avenue Community and we have had our issues with social housing. This is different from affordable housing. My husband and I are fortunate that we still have our home, after a job loss-his and my poor health. If anyone has been smart enough to save up 6 months worth of money for expenses, all the more power to them.
Not all poor income people are addicts, belong to gangs or live a life of crime. Putting groups into pigeon holes is wrong. Habitat for Humanity has very stringent protocols before someone even gets there home.
For a province that supposedly has so much, I see many families struggling to maintain a home and to survive in this economy.
People really need to get a grip. How about making sure your own backyard is clean before judging others?