Fredericton — Any outsider who’s ever struggled to integrate into Fredericton life knows that whether we’ll admit it or not, we can be a snooty, snobbish bunch of people. A few Frederictonians, however, are not only admitting it, but proclaiming it as part of a new “Keep Fredericton Snooty” campaign inspired by a possible rooming house expansion in the downtown area.
The Charlotte Street residence in question currently shelters eight roomers, and the landlord wishes to add more — if the city will agree to zone the location for 12 people who might otherwise become homeless. Neighbours have complained that the low-class dwellers make the area “scary,” and on Monday, council will make its decision. In the meantime, a group of well-off Frederictonians say that the capital city should take pride in its snootiness.
“We’re protesting outside the legislature to give a voice to our firmly held pretensions,” said native Frederictonian Candice Wright. “If these undesirables are able to just live wherever they want, what’s next? I suppose they’ll want to take our cushy government jobs, too?”
Larry Morrison, who lives in “one of the nicer homes on Charlotte Street,” has joined the movement.
“I always liked that ‘Keep Portland Weird’ slogan, and Fredericton to me is sort of like a mini-Portland. Not a lot of people know this, but Fredericton has just as many hipsters per capita as Portland, Oregon — little-known fact. And we’re every bit as concerned about how others perceive us as Portlanders, which is why I’m pro-gentrification of the downtown area.
“Can’t poor people just move to Saint John? I thought that’s… you know… where they tend to congregate?”
Several FOFFs (Fine Old Fredericton Families) have gotten involved in the Keep Freddy Snooty campaign, promoting their lifestyles to all who will listen.
“If you want to make a life in Fredericton, it should be mandatory to live exactly as we do,” said Rita Nesbitt, a wealthy realtor whose family resides in a mansion on Waterloo Row. “What does that mean? It means we shop at the Co-op, we work out at the Y just to be seen working out at the Y, we eat at Brewbakers where we don’t make eye contact with the help unless it’s to berate them or send back wine. It’s a long-held, traditional way of life that’s worth preserving.”
A Manatee reporter spoke with George MacDonald, a resident of the rooming house.
“I lost my job a while back and it’s been hard going,” he said. “I’m originally from Edmundston, and I had no idea that things were this… exclusive in Fredericton. The neighbours seem to want me out, but why? Not one of them has ever spoken to me. In fact most Frederictonians are ice-cold toward strangers.
“I think they just need something to complain about. In a city this sheltered where people consider Needham Street to be the ‘ghetto,’ they really lack perspective.”
The campaigners don’t seem to have a clear goal other than to make it known that they’re not happy about the rooming house’s possible re-zoning.
“We don’t want things to change, we don’t want new friends, we don’t want different income-levels living in the same area!” proclaimed Wright, wielding her homemade sign. “Help us keep Fredericton snooty!”