Letters to the Editor: March 22

Letters to the Editor: March 22

NIMBYs and Affordable Housing; A highway disaster waiting to happen

NIMBYs and Affordable Housing

I hear lots of people coming up with great solutions for helping people in need. Affordable housing is one of these instances but many don’t want them in their neighbourhoods. Why is that?

There is pushback against a number of new affordable housing initiatives here. Think of the apartment building in south Cranbrook, a development in Mount Royal, and housing going in near St. Mary’s School. The Not-in-my-Backyard (NIMBY) crowd voice fears of devaluation of properties and an increase in crime in their beloved neighbourhoods. I’ve researched it and cannot find proof that affordable housing equates with any of these.

Who do NIMBYs think are the people who need affordable housing? In fact, they are people in poverty or near it; people with limited incomes. Canada’s poverty line is $22 122 -single adult; $38,335 -family of three. Pensions (CPP & OAS) combined earn $20,000 or less before taxes. Similarly, minimum wage earns about $22,00/yr. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says housing is affordable if it accounts for 30% or less of your gross income. Could these people afford housing here in Cranbrook? What kind would that be? Standard or substandard? Would you live there?

Research shows up to 70% of Canadians are people working but not earning enough to get by. The working poor are good, hard-working Canadians struggling to make ends meet. They are not criminals or deviants. They won’t ruin your neighbourhood’s reputation. But they struggle with housing: 1 adult on minimum wage of $11/hr earns about $1800/month before taxes. Subtract taxes. Consider that rent in Cranbrook for a 1 bedroom apartment is about $800 – $1,100 give or take. That rent is 60% of the income!

What is it that NIMBYs fear about having hard working Canadians or others living in their neighbourhoods in affordable housing? Is the prejudice based on facts? Do NIMBYs really set themselves apart and above others; see themselves as better?

Isn’t there a not-very-flattering term for that? What is the solution if no one ever wants a certain ‘type’ of person in their neighbourhood? Where will they go? Is the plan to marginalize? Out of sight and out of mind? Ghettoize, perhaps?

Affordable housing invites the working poor and others struggling to meet their needs into all communities. It doesn’t segregate. And, affordable housing is not necessarily synonymous with public or social housing. Please look it up if you are interested.

Melodie Hull

Disaster waiting to happen

Lately one of the most scary things I have done is to drive from Meadowbrook to Kimberley. As soon as I pass Meadowbrook Motors I start looking for boulders on the road and trees, which look like they will come down any moment.

That hillside is a disaster waiting to happen.

Something should have been done a long time ago.

What is the City of Kimberley’s priority? They spent thousands of dollars on the flume, mostly decorative. Are they waiting for somebody to be injured or killed?

A few days of heavy rain or a big wind storm like we had 20 years ago and that hill will end up on the highway blocking residents, tourists and commercial vehicles, in the best scenario.

I was in Austria last summer and I saw a rock wall the side of the highway which was covered by mesh anchored to the wall. It went for many kilometres and was as high as a ten storey building or more. I bet there wasn’t one pebble on the road. And it was the kind of rock that chipped easily.

Are we too behind in Canada that we can’t fix one little hill?

I hope they will do that fast and pray to God nothing happens until then.

Hana Macdonald