Teenage neighbours aren't the problem
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 06:00 am
St. Albert is once again facing public scrutiny for a not-so-nice comment shared by a resident – this time about teenagers being bad neighbours.
Murray Brown, president of Canterra Developments, is battling council after refusing to build a park in Kingswood without a guarantee that the neighbourhood’s school site won’t someday be home to a high school.
“It would be a high school, which means teenagers,” he said to the St. Albert Gazette this week. “Do you think they would make for great neighbours for all the families that live in Kingswood? In any single-family area?
“In our opinion, they don’t make for great neighbours.”
Words perhaps spoken out of frustration over the ongoing battle with city hall. He later said that increased traffic and limited space contributed to his refusal to allow a high school to be constructed in the neighbourhood. Council says a park and school are essential for Kingswood residents, who have been without either since the subdivision came to be.
Since this story graced the pages of the St. Albert Gazette, it has been picked up by major television networks in the region. This increased attention has once again put the community under the microscope.
Statements like this, even when spoken in frustration, have painted St. Albert in a negative light. This is evident on Internet comment pages, which are rife with unpleasant comments about the community being intolerant and elitist.
“St. Albert does not seem like a very welcoming community. Are they going to begin screening newcomers in their communities?” asked Arlene Desmarais Ouellet on Facebook.
The reputation of the community, which nearly 61,000 people call home, has suffered blows in the past after similar comments hit the press.
According to the 2010 municipal census, 13 per cent of Kingswood residents are between 12 and 18 years of age, meaning this neighbourhood already has one of the highest percentages of teenage residents in the community. If a large population of teenagers means trouble, then Kingswood is likely already experiencing it, as would the rest of the city.
To write off an entire age demographic is a complete oversight in acknowledging the obvious fact that every adult – from development company presidents to community leaders and decision makers – was once a teenager. Arguably, not everyone was a bad apple in those years.
St. Albert already has enough real problems to worry about, like high taxes and lack of affordable housing. Bad teenage neighbours aren’t even on the radar.
We don’t need our community being painted as intolerant and elitist simply because a select few spark headlines with poorly chosen remarks.
Many residents are now left disappointed and frustrated as they try once again to repair the damage to the city’s reputation.
But one also has to ask if this issue would even have arisen if city council didn’t conduct business behind closed doors. Council should commit to public hearings on the issue and get the opinion of Kingswood residents.
It’s time the facts, not hyperbole, are put on the table so residents – and non-residents – can make informed judgments.