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Grand Marais accused of house shaming after asking residents to judge properties

One responder called it 'tantamount to bullying.'

The City of Grand Marais got into hot water with some of its residents after posting a survey asking locals to vote on a series of city properties – including homes.

The vote, dubbed the "Stewardship Survey," was pulled after an angry response by some on social media, after the North Shore city asked followers to look through around 100 photos of residences and business properties in the city.

They then asked them to give feedback as to whether the property or street scene is "contributing or detracting from community health."

It provoked an angry response on its Facebook page, with some commenters accusing the city of property shaming and showing bias against the less wealthy members of the community.

One commenter called it "tantamount to bullying," while another, Cynthia Barton, had this to say:

"This is disgusting, it lacks all context except what strong bias the survey is clearly pushing. Not to mention the total disregard to privacy. I look at most of these photos and see a direct commentary on how absurdly expensive and difficult it is to live here. People having to stack firewood the size of their house to afford surviving the winter, people living in RV's through the summer because there is no affordable, safe, temporary housing... I see businesses that are vital to our community being inadvertently shamed for not being 'aesthetic' or undergoing renovations.

"If we want to talk about community health, this is NOT the avenue. The bias is clear, and this survey feels like a personal attack on those of us struggling to keep afloat or progress in this already difficult community."

The subject of the survey came up at a council meeting last Wednesday, with four residents 

"My house was on there, I have a completely messy yard. I will own it 100 percent. I am too busy running a business and working 2 other jobs to really worry about the shame and humiliation," resident Mike Smieja said at the meeting, noting he was concerned that the survey could open up the city to a lawsuit.

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The survey has since been pulled, with city Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux telling WTIP to was "not the intention of the city ... to target anyone."

"The way this played out though I do issue a whole-hearted apology for the pain and the division this has caused in the community, this was not our intention.

"The tool did not have a goal in place other than to gather information," he said, noting that the information would be used to inform reviews of existing or the proposal of new local ordinances.

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