Editor's note: The following letters are in response to the March 10 story "Bad Neighbours". For anyone who missed it, the article is available in our online archives at www.prairiedogmag.com. /Stephen Whitworth
100 PER CENT CONCENTRATED UNFAIR
I found the article "Bad Neighbours" to be unfairly balanced against the Coronation Park Community Group and Bobbi Stadnyk in particular. I also spoke out against this housing development (on behalf of the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism) in a city committee meeting. I was not available to attend the council meeting where this project was discussed or I would have also done so then.
After having met with Ms. Stadnyk and hearing all of her concerns, I realized that many of our concerns about this project were similar to ours. We, too, believe that people requiring affordable housing should not be forced to live within areas of high concentration of people of similar income. Other cities in Canada have come to recognize that such inner-city development is a recipe for serious long-term social problems.
Oh, we hear city councillors speaking from atop their soapboxes (which are located almost exclusively in the suburban neighbourhoods) crying "NIMBYism" and racism in regard to the Coronation Park Community Group. However, when I see the day that these same councillors are fighting to ensure that affordable housing developments are made available in new neighbourhoods such as Harbour Landing I may start to take their criticisms seriously. I heard one councillor state, when asked why there aren't any affordable housing projects in his "upscale" neighbourhood, that "the homeowners pay a lot of money to live there!" I'd say that's where the real anti-affordable housing "freak-out" resides.
Naturally the Coronation Park area is not free of the racism that permeates us all, but I do believe that this group of people has been able to highlight how wrong this development is for the potential tenants, and for the city as a whole, and for that I thank them.
Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism
This letter is in response to Paul Dechene's print and online articles regarding developing more rental properties in Coronation Park.
In his articles, Dechene appears intent on instigating a race war in the City, pointing to the fair-complexioned Coronation Park Community Group angrily trying to keep First Nations people out of their neighbourhood.
What he neglected to say is that several members of the CPCG are part First Nations and that many more have grandchildren who are part First Nations. Before he makes such irresponsible and serious allegations he should check his facts. Playing the race card and using false allegations of racism are commonly used to oppress people and to stop them from expressing honest and valid concerns.
The concerns of the CPCG in this case included that the city was sanctioning racial segregation and concentration of poverty.
World experts have warned against building the kind of areas that the city has been so good at developing and Dechene is embracing. Edward Goetz, Associate Professor of Planning and Public Affairs, found that there is little argument anymore from anyone that concentration of poverty in neighbourhoods produces aggregate community effects including increased crime and the eventual dysfunction of whole communities. Myron Orfield, professor of law and executive director of the Institute on Race and Poverty, warned of the dangers associated with purposely creating areas of racial segregation. But Regina City Council and Paul Dechene, in their infinite wisdom, claim that they know better. In their seemingly limitless ignorance they choose to lash out at people, such as the members of CPCG, who are trying to prevent the segregating and continued warehousing of First Nations people who need affordable rent into highly stressed, dangerous areas of the city.
It is nauseating that Dechene would wallow in such biased and irresponsible writing - which he calls journalism - and perpetuate such inflammatory hate-promoting propaganda in a city that already has high levels of racial tension.
Shame on Dechene for promoting racial conflict!
Tanice Lunn, Zack Marchuk, Ken Mather, Austin Stadnyk, Bobbi Stadnyk, Robert Wicklund, Wendy Wicklund on behalf of Coronation Park Community Group
HERE ARE THE FACTS, PLAINLY NUMBERED FOR PRAIRIE DOG'S CONVENIENCE
In several prairie dog articles, Paul Dechene has touched on the concerns raised by the Coronation Park Community Group but then leads readers to believe they are unfounded by leaving out the details such as:
1) According to city police, Coronation is one of the highest violent crime areas in Regina. City records show Coronation has one of the highest rates of rental properties in Regina and 90 per cent of the affordable rental properties in Coronation are in a two block by three block area where the new development will be. The City admitted there is a relationship between more rental properties and higher crime.
2) The development will be built on a flood plain that will first be backfilled with two feet of dirt. According to the city, this could impact the surrounding community. Stantec identified Coronation as one of the worst areas in the city for flooding and the area adjoining the proposed development as low lying. Over 100 homes adjoining the development flooded last September 5.
3) The residential street adjoining the development currently has a traffic volume of 3,000 vehicles per day. The city estimates the development will add 700 more. Most cities, including Regina, consider more than 1,000 cars a day on a residential street to be excessive.
4) The only green space in the area is littered with used condoms and dirty syringes. A small child was poked with a dirty syringe last summer and another was observed sticking a needle in his mouth. It is unlikely that members of city council or Dechene would want their children to play in that area, so why is it okay to bring First Nations families who need affordable rent into such a space?
What the CPCG very effectively argued is that it is crucial that the majority of Regina's affordable housing not be placed in a few highly stressed communities in Regina. It is wrong to warehouse people who need affordable housing in high-risk areas where they are placed in danger. This is not fair to existing communities or to those who need affordable rent.
BY THE WAY, WE'RE NOT WITH THEM
As residents of Coronation Park we would like to point out that the Coronation Park Community Group (CPCG) is not representative of the community as a whole. In light of Regina's miniscule vacancy rate and the crisis in affordable housing, the CPCG stance seems ridiculously short-sighted.
There are various community groups within the city, such as the Unitarian Fellowship, that are working towards an awareness of the housing crisis and solutions to alleviate it. Though this CPCG may be vocal, they are not the only members of our community. There are many that would welcome the housing project, including us.
Glenna and Wybo Ottenbreit-Born
HELLO, WE'RE THE CPC WITH AN "A" AT THE END
Just for clarification, the Coronation Park Community GROUP (CPCG) is different than the Coronation Park Community ASSOCIATION (CPCA). The Coronation Park Community GROUP is a group that was formed outside of affiliation to our ASSOCIATION for the purpose of opposing the new development. The Coronation Park Community ASSOCIATION has been around for many years now to serve our community with family events and programming for all ages.
If you are unsure if you are part of the community or want more information about our programs, visit reginacoronationpark.ca for more information.
Coronation Park Vice-Chairperson & Community Programmer
ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TOPIC...
David Suzuki's article "Bashing Science" [March 10] didn't tackle an important issue.
Dr. Suzuki argues that politicians are ignorant of and distrust science based on religious grounds. The more fundamental issue is that environmental science proves that those living in the developed world are being negatively impacted by their own lifestyle. We have long been able to ignore our exploitation of other humans, animals and the natural world because it was out of our cities and not in the news.
I believe the root issue is environmental science versus economics.
The price of oil continues to rise due to economic and political instability in oil-rich nations. While this is a boon for the Alberta tar sands' profitability, and while Canada will see an influx of income and sales taxes to the federal government that will be redistributed around the country, this project is having an adverse environmental impact in the area.
Canada has made very large cuts in environmental spending. The federal government has been much more concerned with putting money into economic recovery projects than it is with investing in environmental safeguards.
It would appear that the economic interests are viewed as more important than environmental ones. Canada only acts to protect the environment when we have the economic leg-room.
Should Canada abandon projects like the tar sands? Should we deny other countries the opportunity to reach a lifestyle like ours since it is unsustainable for all people on the earth to live like this? These are the real questions we need to start asking if we want to actually combat the amount of pollution that we are producing.
What are we willing to give up?
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