UPDATED 18/04/13 14:46 – It what appears to be the latest of a long series of missteps and communications mistakes on the YMCA proposal, the Abbotsford News first published and then withdrew a story on their website Thursday about a letter they said was sent by City Manager George Murray to Vancouver YMCA president and CEO Stephen Butz announcing that the City of Abbotsford was no longer going to pursue the YMCA proposal.
In the story the News reported that in the letter the City had made its position clear that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed to by both parties was not a legally binding document and that the City was giving the YMCA notice that it does not intend to go ahead with the proposal.
The story finished with a statement that the City was indefinitely postponing the project – almost exactly the words Banman had attributed to Stephen Butz in his statements to the public on April 8.
While the stor spent a brief time on the Abbotsford News website it has been taken down without explanation by 2:15 pm Thursday.
Abbotsford Today has not been able to confirm the story the News published.
This has not been a good two weeks for Mayor Banman and the YMCA after a confusing performance by Banman at the April 8 council meeting during which Banman appeared to read a letter from the YMCA’s Stephen Butz which, according to Banman, stated that, due to former Parks and Rec Director Mark Taylor’s death, the YMCA was indefinitely postponing its plans to accept $17.5 million in taxpayer cash as well as property-taxfree status on its proposed paid-membership fitness facillity.
When the actual letter was released earlier this week, it became apparent much of what Banman had told council and the public was not in the YMCA letter at all.
The YMCA proposal has drawn heavy criticism from residents who don’t believe the City has the money to give away; should not be subsidizing private organizations; has no business competing with existing fitness businesses, and shoulod be devoting Abbotsford tax dollars to bringin down the City’s enormous debt – both internal and external – and doing something about the infrastructure deficit which has caused development and econoomic growth to stall in the city.
Fred Thiessen started his organization to fight the YMCA proposal back in January but the chain-owned media in Abbotsford has steered clear of his story until the Abbotsford News told its readers Thiessen had launched his initiative in their April 4 edition three month safter it began. The Abbotsford Times has been silent on the story.
UPDATE 14:46 18/04/13
The News has now re-posted the story with a copy of the letter they say was sent by George Murray to the YMCA. We have posted a copy of that letter from the News’ story below
Thank you for your letter of March 28th, 2013 and subsequent conversations, regarding the status of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding the development of a YMCA in Abbotsford. The City truly appreciates the understanding of you, and your Board, regarding the situation that the City of Abbotsford now finds itself in.
On April 8th, 2013, at its Regular meeting of Council, the following resolution was passed:
Moved by Councillor Smith, seconded by Councillor Gill, that the City ofAbbotsford defer further discussions regarding the development of a YMCA facility in Abbotsford based on the correspondence dated March 28, 2013, as well as subsequent discussions, with the YMCA of Greater Vancouver.
Based on the above noted resolution, please be advised that the City of Abbotsford has agreed to indefinitely postpone the proposed partnership to develop a YMCA in Abbotsford. As the MOU was not a binding agreement, the City is sending you this letter to confirm that we will no longer pursue this initiative.
On behalf of Mayor and Council, I would like to thank the YMCA for your support and patience during the past number of months.
George M. Murray”