By Mike Archer. While Mayor Banman and Councillors Patricia Ross and John Smith are making the case that Abbotsford’s Official Community Plan (OCP) should be scrapped when it gets in the way of rich people making money, the new era they envision promises wonderful windfalls for those savvy enough or well connected enough to take advantage of it.
When the OCP defines an area as low density residential, all it seems to take in Abbotsford is a council meeting to approve the construction of a 16 story highrise apartment or condo complex.
When the OCP says an area is designated residential, all it seems to take is a council meeting to approve an industrial agricultural project.
When an area is designated and contracted to be zoned in such a fashion that it will never, ever, contain a Supportive Housing Project, and when that promise is used to extract investment and years of taxes from individual businesses which plunked down their money and their lives based on that covenant, all it takes, in Abbotsford, to kick all those people to the curb appears to simply be a council meeting.
The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) may have a checkered past when it comes to its relationship with the homeless. Former ADBA heavyweight Bob Bos left a terrible track record for influencing politicians like John Smith and Bruce Beck to act outside of their jurisdiction or legally allowed activities and engage in what can only be described as a systematic campaign of extinction against the poor, the addicted, the drug dependent and the homeless citizens of Abbotsford.
Abbotsford Police Department (APD) chief Bob Rich’s policy of displacing and dispersing the homeless sounds so much like a policy of cleansing the city of undesirables it is going to take a long cold winter of court cases and official police complaints to sort out just what he has been up to for the last decade.
Whatever the results of those law suits and investigations, an unlikely hand has been extended by the most injured and beaten of Abbotsford’s poor – the Abbotsford Drug War Survivors (DWS) – in the manner of a suggestion, made at last month’s public meeting about the Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) proposal to build a Supportive Housing Project in the ADBA’s protected zoning area.
Barry Shantz, head of the DWS, told the audience that what the ACS and the City of Abbotsford are trying to do, if they are successful, should, in his mind, unquestionably lead to compensation to the ADBA by the City of Abbotsford.
“It just seems fair,” says Shantz. “I mean these people put down their money and their livelihoods based on a promise from the City of Abbotsford. If I break my word, breach a contract or break the law I am called to account. It seems the same should be true of the City of Abbotsford and these poor people who thought the City’s promise meant something,” he added.
At least somebody in Abbotsford remembers what it means to give your word as though it meant something.