This is going to be my McCauley Musings editorial column for the May issue. It deals with a very controversial subject currently under discussion in the community and wider Edmonton area. As a result, I wanted to get this out there right now in the hopes of addressing some of the misinformation and misconceptions about our community.
Of NIMBYs and Know-It-Alls
Paula E. Kirman * BMC News Staff
By now the news of the McCauley Community League taking legal action against the building of Iris Court has been broadcast in major media outlets throughout the city. Of the public reactions, the most harsh have been those comments accusing the League – and the community at large – of being NIMBYs.
For those who need clarification, NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard” and refers to people who may give lip service to social justice, as long as the problems are kept far away from them. I can’t say whether or not those who accuse McCauley-ites of being NIMBYs are hypocrites themselves, but I can probably say with some confidence that these people don’t live in the area or even have a good knowledge about the neighbourhood.
In the four years that I have been deeply involved in the community here I have gotten to know a variety of people who are compassionate towards the needy elements of society and who are passionate about social justice. As a result, there is a reasonable level of acceptance for the amount of social, below-market, subsidized, and supportive housing. Many people have moved here because they want to be part of the solution.
However, these same people have decided that the current amount of disproportionate supportive housing, which at 54 percent is the most disproportionate in the city, is enough. As I heard a participant say at the community meeting on March 20, “We want to be a community – not a dumping ground.” The situation is not that these people don’t want the problems in their back yard – it’s that the back yard is already full.
If you are reading this and don’t live in McCauley, I urge you to spend some time here. Get to know the people and get to know the issues. Then, take a look and your own back yard and reconsider whether you think the people here are NIMBYs.