Calgary development group sorry it suggested gays, people with tattoos, wouldn’t like the suburbs

A Calgary development group has apologized for an article that suggested visible minorities, homosexuals and people with tattoos could not feel comfortable living in a world of “in a world of heterosexual suburbanites.”

The Urban Development Institute – Calgary originally posted the article to its website, but it was later removed and apology was issued.

The original article, titled "'Comfort Capital' and Why We're a World Class City", debates what makes Calgary a premier location to live, and the role comfort plays when choosing a neighbourhood.

CBC News reports that the original article included the following excerpt:

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.

It can even be more basic than that - having the hippest nightspots close by isn't important to the woman who wouldn't know what to wear anyway. Even if she wanted to go clubbing, which she doesn't.

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An apology posted in the article's place suggested it had been intended to prompt conversation about the lack of diversity in the suburbs.

"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," UDI-Calgary CEO Guy Huntingford wrote. "The article used examples in a good-will effort to illustrate how some Calgarians might view themselves within the context of their neighbourhoods.

"These examples didn’t work, and in fact were seen as offensive. UDI wishes to apologize unconditionally to anyone who was offended."

Negative reaction to the article included urban development experts and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who told the Calgary Herald that the comments and the message were offensive.

“I’m shocked that in 2013, not 1958, you actually have quote-unquote research that shows that minorities and people with tattoos and gay people should live in different neighbourhoods,” he said.

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Fast Forward Weekly also mocked the idea as a call for segregated neighbourhoods.

I don't know how many times I've been shopping with my white wife (who totally doesn't know what to wear to one of those fancy downtown elite nightclubs) at Safeway, minding our own business when some young guy with tattoos nervously pops up in the produce aisle to grab some apples before quickly snaking away. If we could just figure out which house he's in, we could probably get a mob together to demand he go back downtown. It's unnerving for all involved. He's not happy. We're certainly not happy. Really, tattoos in the suburbs!? I never.

The UDI article likely didn't mean to suggest that the answer was to create segregated neighbourhoods, but whatever point it was hitting at has been destroyed by the sledgehammer of horrible examples it employed.

Gay people, tattooed people and visible minorities: The trifecta of folks who couldn't possibly feel comfortable in the suburbs.

It is a place that only women who don't know what to wear to the nightclub could possibly call home.

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