Gays, tattooed people, minorities don't 'fit in' in suburbs: developers

An organization representing Calgary developers is apologizing for an article it posted on its website.

Apology issued by Urban Development Institute for article posted on website

Urban Development Institute CEO Guy Huntingford apologized Thursday for the article. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

An organization representing Calgary developers is apologizing over an article it posted online that suggested gay couples, visible minorities and people with tattoos might not feel comfortable living in the suburbs.

The article appeared Wednesday on a website run by the Urban Development Institute and was taken down on Thursday.

Excerpt: 'Where no one is like them'

It’s not a subject of much discussion, but research suggests residency location choice is strongly linked to how comfortable a person feels in a place where no one is like them.

And it doesn’t just apply to visible minorities searching out the diaspora. It can be the guy with tattoos, feeling on display every time he shops at the Safeway on the city’s periphery. Or the gay couple in a world of heterosexual suburbanites. And yes, the person who is a member of a visible minority community.

The institute's chief executive, Guy Huntingford, said Wednesday that Calgarians live where they're comfortable, not where they feel different.

"People go to specific areas, not just because of the actual built form but also because they feel comfortable. So the intent of that letter was to say it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, who you are — you feel comfortable where you live."

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Huntingford apologized to anyone offended by the article. 

"The article was intended to celebrate diversity rather than to offend. It was to encourage discussion about choices and why people choose a place to live based on a wide range of factors, one of which is because they feel comfortable there," he wrote. 

"The article used examples in a goodwill effort to illustrate how some Calgarians might view themselves within the context of their neighbourhoods."

Early Friday the Calgary region of the Canadian Home Builders' Association issued a statement calling the article "offensive."

"We do not condone the statements made in the article and, in fact, CHBA - Calgary Region advocates strongly for choice in all communities which means diversity in all forms," reads the letter.

"That diversity of people, as well as housing choices to accommodate everyone, makes a healthy community." 

Mayor calls article 'bizarre'

Several members of city council have criticized the letter. Mayor NaheedNenshi called it "very, very bizarre."

He added: "So what they're suggesting is we should have homelands within the city for different people and certain kinds of people should stick with their own. If that's really what they're suggesting, I don't have much time for that argument."

Nenshi wants to know if the institute's members agree with the article.

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With files from the CBC's Scott Dippel


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