In the past few months it has become apparent to the people of St. Albert that a proposed project by Habitat for Humanity has been planned for an area of Akinsdale. At first word of this my wife and I had no comment as we believed this would not affect us, but as time wears on we have come to realize that this is an issue that will affect all St. Albert residents.
My family and I are homeowners in a new development in Kingswood. We moved our family and business to St. Albert so our children could have what we believed would be a better upbringing. The list of amenities made the decision easy; some examples are good schools and programs (not so crowded), low crime, a higher standard of living, great recreational possibilities and numerous other aspects. Every example owes itself to one major factor: high or above-average income.
The average family income for St. Albert is higher than in Edmonton or any other area municipality. We moved to St. Albert because we can afford it and we deserve it. This is a great city with great families. We feel comfortable joining in activities we would not have considered in Edmonton.
This development is a bad idea for St. Albert for both current residents and the people who will occupy the new development. Current residents will have to deal with the likeliness of children influenced by crime in our schools and adults in our community. Our cost of living will increase as we will have to pay for low-income subsidies due to higher school fees or other taxes. We won’t feel comfortable taking our kids to activities like movie night in the park or other St. Albert events for fear that there will be unruly families. We can assure each other that measures will be taken to prevent this influence, but that’s not what we want.
We don’t want a police presence at family outings. We don’t want to worry about drugs at elementary schools or gang fights at the high schools. We don’t want to worry about people speeding, possibly hitting our kids, or having to increase our police force. What we want is for St. Albert to remain as it is with very few low-income households, a place for families that work hard to live here. You can say we will screen to make sure those families won’t make the cut, but there is no level of pre-screening that will prevent some form of crime from infiltrating the proposed development. It will happen, guaranteed.
This will start a landslide of things that will turn southeast St. Albert into a low-income area instead of middle class. Low-income families will have difficulty up-keeping the proposed development, and in turn it will bring down the value of the surrounding houses. This sounds unjustified; look at some of the Habitat for Humanity developments in Edmonton where this has already occurred.
This development will be hard for the families moving in. 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.
Sports activities in St. Albert are another problem area. Sure the base costs are the same as other areas, but the teams here expect more financially from families. In Edmonton there are recreational activities at the YMCA; there are no subsidies for families in St. Albert, nor do we want to pay for it. Our family membership to Servus Place is $1,300 a year plus costs for Fountain Park and other activities, but we can afford it. Putting low-income families in this situation is not reasonable or fair — it would be like giving a new car to someone that can’t afford the gas. They would be better off with a bus pass. I am all for low-income housing in Edmonton. I believe more independent living housing is required in St. Albert and would be better suited than this proposal.
Chris and Karleena Perry, St. Albert