As a resident of St. Albert, I am used to the comments people make about the high taxes when I tell them where I live. Like the rest of us, I am used to smiling and nodding and politely answering, "Yes, but it's worth it." We pay the taxes without complaint because we like to leave our city jobs behind and return every evening to our "botanical city" with our houses nestled on quiet streets surrounded by trees.
The truth is actually much less idyllic. The psychological contract that residents have with the city that we'll pay the high taxes and they will maintain our little piece of heaven is eroding. When we decided to make the biggest investment of our lives, we believed the city when they told us about what future development would look like. Then, after our houses are built and our children settled, the city changes the rules. So what happened? Developers rolled in with dump trucks full of money and suddenly our identity was up for sale.
Our little Hole's Greenhouse was razed and sold to the highest bidder. Gleaming glass towers were erected and they had the audacity to call it "Botanica" as if it was some kind of garden community. It's not though. It's waiting three cycles of traffic lights to turn left.
I wonder if Lois Hole is turning in her grave at the thought that the city might approve the construction of additional 25- and 28-storey towers on what was once her beloved farm? Maybe they can paint trees on the sides of the new buildings to make them more palatable. I wonder what Lois would think of the city allowing construction traffic to flow in front of the elementary school that bears her name because a developer didn't want to wait for another access road to be built?
I've seen the betrayal and her name is greed. I implore our city council to do what we elected them to do and make St. Albert the place we always believed it to be – the botanical city that five years ago was named the best place to live in Canada.
Julie Kucher, St. Albert