Dear Mayor Banman,
I am writing this letter in response to the recent vote on the ACS Housing Project. I am outraged at the decision to veto the housing proposal. Mayor Banman, I direct my letter to you as the leader and voice of our city and one of deciding voters on the issue.

I understand that your vote did not only reflect your values, but as you were attempting to vote in the interests of the community, it was perhaps also a reflection of the perceived overall climate of our community. So perhaps there is a little blame that lies with each of us for allowing this deception to continue. There are indeed some members of our city who create a climate of indifference, apathy, fear, and distain towards the lowest and most marginalized of our citizens. I am writing this letter because I want to do my part in beginning to change said perceived climate. I hope that you will hear someone who is not indifferent, someone who cares about the most vulnerable and marginalized of Abbotsford. I believe I stand with the majority of this town which has perhaps stayed silent too long. I know I speak for many when I say we want to be a community known for compassion.

I don’t know by what personal values you act upon, but understand that compassion is among the values of this community. I am no longer willing to be silent like so many others and lead you to believe that this is not so. Your vote yesterday evening reflected the fears of few, not the compassion of many. You evidently sympathize with the upper middle class of Abbotsford, perhaps because you are a member of the upper middle class of Abbotsford. However, the majority of residents do not fall into this tax bracket. When will you represent the voice of the majority? Its time you step out of your own circle and get to know the residents of this city that you are attempting to lead. You have consistently led with a lack of compassion, lack of respect and a disregard for the marginalized.
Homelessness and addiction is a big problem in Abbotsford. It is my problem. It is your problem. And guess what, this problem is not going anywhere.

Individual people as well as social organizations work very hard to bring about change in Abbotsford, but none of it is sustainable without the support of you and council. Instead, you deliberately work in opposition to these people and organizations. I won’t pretend that there are easy answers and easy fixes for homelessness and addiction. But with the ACS Housing Project, you had one opportunity here to bring practical and sustainable change, no matter how small. You had an opportunity to change headlines as well as the climate of the community.

And you blew it. You utterly failed.

Since the chicken manure dump, you have skirted the homeless issue, passed the buck, made excuses. Not once have you made an attempt to work toward solutions. To not only skirt issues, but to condone the eviction of people from homeless camps, and then to deny them the social housing they so desperately need is absolutely deplorable.

Though you are not single-handedly responsible for the series of poor decisions made by the City with regards to the homeless throughout the past year, you must be willing to take the heat. You ran for this seat. You signed up to take on these issues and make them your issues. And you have failed at making them your issues.

As the leader of Abbotsford, your indifference deems you guilty.

If you want to be this city’s leader, then lead. Do you really want our city to be known as one that acts out of fear or maybe just plays it safe? Isn’t it better to be known as a city that is compassionate and proactive? Your online profile on our city’s website states that you decided to run for Mayor because you felt strongly that Abbotsford was in need of progressive change. Seriously? Quit skirting the issues and passing the buck. Make some change!


A Concerned Resident of Abbotsford

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