The Edmonton Journal, Friday, July 3, 1998
Not just the affluent affected by shingles fiasco
The Journal has printed two letters from readers (June 24, Dan Kalf and June 26, Gordon Johnstone) on the subject of the "pine shingle fiasco" that is plaguing some Edmonton-area homeowners.
I have no personal stake in this, but was still taken aback by Kalf's statement that it was "ridiculous" to expect the government (a.k.a taxpayers) to be held accountable for approving the shingles for use. Surely if a new type of concrete mix had been approved and Kalf's new basement began to crumble, he would be singing a different tune.
Johnstone believes that the homeowner's "selfish stupidity" is to blame, but many of them may not have had a choice. Many developers enforce architectural controls which can include requirements for a pine shake roof on new houses in certain areas. I wonder if there are any governmental controls on this practice?
Both men also seem to think that only $340,000 homes are affected, but many of the afflicted residences were bought at about half this value.
Furthermore, the only thing that is "ridiculous" or "selfishly stupid" is the opinion that taxpayers who may live in more expensive houses than you should not be allowed to question their government's involvement in this situation.
The function of government is to manage things that are too large for individuals to cope with - do we all have to have building inspector's training to buy homes? Only, it seems, in Johnstone's "buyer beware" world.
Is the Alberta government totally responsible for the pine shingle fiasco?
Surely not, but we should not dismiss questions relating to the apportion of blame simply because it is a problem that is falsely perceived to affect the more affluent members of society -who, incidentally, pay more,than their fair share of income tax under our government's escalating percentage scheme.