Monday, April 5, 2010

All Heart Maintenance?

Time to add my voice to a controversy that has hit the place I was formerly a resident in: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The following is a letter written to the editor of the St. Albert Gazette by Chris and Karleena Perry, owners of the All Heart Maintenance company in St. Albert, Alberta, just outside of Edmonton. Keep in mind the name of their company as you read the letter.


Higher-earning families part of St. Albert's appeal
April 03, 2010 06:00 am

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


What the fuck were these people thinking!? Well, it's clear what they were thinking, they wrote it out in black and white what they were thinking, and now we all know what they think.

Now, heck, I know the whole free speech deal will come up, as it should. These folks have every right to express how they feel. Now it's our turn, as the readers of the above article to express how we feel.

It's sad. It is sad that these folks feel this way. It is sad to know that this is the way they see the world. It doesn't do much to instill faith in humanity. What HAS restored my faith, however, is the outpouring of frustration, anger, and disapproval this letter has been met with.

I will be honest. I don't know these people. They may be nice folks. Who knows. Based on this letter, and this letter only, I cannot imagine that they would be good folks. And, I am concerned that they are part of the problem. Here is my concern. They own a company called All Heart Maintenance. First off, that name just doesn't suit anymore. How about Bigot Maintenance. That works! How about Two Complete And Utter Assholes Maintenance. I like the ring of that. By the All Heart part has to go. Sorry.

That is the minor issue, however. More pressing is the type of business this is, and knowing that maintenance companies don't have a good record of paying staff very much, I do question...what ARE they paying their staff? Chris and Karleena seem to be doing well...they point out this fact to us very clearly. That's nice. What about the people that work for them? How are they coping? If they aren't being paid very much, I would question how well they are coping. If they aren't paying them well, what does this mean? Doesn't this mean that they are adding to the "problems" that they have talked about in this mean spirited letter? Would they want the people they employ living in the same city as them? If their employees aren't making the big bucks, it sure doesn't seem like it. So, what does this say? Well, to me, it says lesser humans, as determined by the Perry's, are made to serve rich folks and then be pushed out of the way, out of sight, out of mind and out of one's hair. Lovely. I'm sorry Chris and Karleena, but in my view, you guys deserve every bit of criticism and backlash that you are getting.

Free speech IS important. But, so is facing the consequences of that free speech. That is what is happening, by the sounds of it. Personally, I call for a boycott of All Heart Maintenance, as others have. Sounds fair. Sounds fitting. Mind you, if you agree with the sentiments put forth by the Perry's, you may be considering hiring them! Good luck with that. Hope it works out for you. I'm sure their employee morale has been boosted by this episode, and you'll get some great work out of them folks.

Well, that is my rant on the issue. Is there more to say? Oh, you bet. I could ramble on and on and on and on about this. But I shant. I'll just end by saying, oh Chris and Karleena Perry, it is so sad, SO sad that you see the world in such a way. I hope your son doesn't pick up your way of thinking. I hope that there will be hope for the next generation of Perry's.

SMALL ADDITION: Here is a good blog discussion about this incident. The post is excellent, and a lot of good comments were made. Reading it made me feel that maybe I was a bit harsh, maybe? Wellllll...maybe not.:)

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