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So you think you have problems?

By: Bryan Alary

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012 06:00 am

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My condo complex nearly burned to a crisp last week, but I’m not complaining. I know plenty of other people in St. Albert have far greater grumble-worthy problems than a close call with fire. Case in point: the good folks of Akinsdale.

The neighbourhood, which in recent years earned a NIMBY reputation for staunch opposition to the Habitat for Humanity project on Arlington Drive, is going absolutely bananas over a new car wash being built next door to LB’s Pub. It seems the 15-bay car wash isn’t a hit with nearby businesses who don’t want to see their parking spaces vanish, nor with some neighbours who worry about increased traffic or, presumably, how it will look next to such a gorgeous example of modern strip mall architecture.

The fact that this is happening again is nothing short of shocking. I have no problems with a commercial development on the site. After all, it’s been zoned that way for decades. What is truly astounding is that St. Albert is going to get yet another car wash. Maybe I’m just naïve about the filthy condition of local automobiles, but exactly how many car washes does St. Albert need? I mean, we’re talking about a city where huge car washes open next door to each other on some of the most visible commercial plots along St. Albert Trail. I must be in the wrong business.

Akinsdale’s car wash kerfuffle is just the latest example of St. Albert-style problems that many communities would love to claim as their own. If sparkling SUVs and bong shops are your biggest beefs, you’re probably doing OK.

Documenting these St. Albert-style problems can be a humourous job, one that’s currently being filled by an anonymous Internet poster with the Twitter handle @StAlbertProblem. This person has no shortage of satirical observations about the good life in St. Albert, especially for its younger generations. Here are a few examples of some of my favourite St. Albert ‘problems’:

“When ‘gang colors’ are $250+ brand name shirts”

“When all adults bitch endlessly about how high taxes are but don’t actually move or do anything about it.”

“When your AJHL team is a massive embarrassment to the sport of hockey”

“Everyone hear what the mayor did to the guy who wanted to open the smoke shop? Guess you’ll have to drive to Edmonton.”

“When stuck up St. Albert kids complain about a twitter account designed to mock them for being stuck up.”

If it wasn’t aimed at a younger demographic, I’d swear @StAlbertProblem took an inspirational cue from the letters pages of the St. Albert Gazette. While often an important forum for St. Albertans to share and express opinions, all too often the space serves as a venting column, often bordering on ridiculous. (Full disclosure: I used to pick some of the most ridiculous, over-the-top letters for publication). No issue is too petty for vilification, be it another fresh observation on dog excrement to timely opinions on the city’s bicycle helmet bylaw (the most recent batch of bashing coming a mere five years after the bylaw was approved), bitching about jerk drivers, or, alternatively, about jerk pedestrians who should learn how to stay out of the way. And that doesn’t even include the religiously charged debates with zero context to local issues!

Hey, the Internet ramblings of @StAlbertProblem might not be comic genius, but there’s nothing wrong with a good laugh at our own expense, especially if it reminds us that most of us have it pretty good in this city and life is too short to spend it complaining about petty stuff. That’s what the Internet is for.

Bryan Alary is a former city hall reporter and editor.


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