Last week AmbrÖse started a new feature on Abbotsford Today entitled Time To Retire. After hearing from his many followers, AmbrÖse has put together his first feature in the series
Surprise … It’s about Simon Gibson.
Councillor Simon Gibson’s greatest claim to fame is his experience. He has been a councillor in Abbotsford since before there was air. Though he’s experienced lots of stuff we’re still at a loss as to whether he’s learned anything.
Prior to amalgamation he made a name for himself as an old style fire and brimstone prohibitionist. Somehow the decades between the failure of prohibition 1930s and Abbotsford in the 1990s completely escaped him. (See what I mean about experiencing stuff but not learning from it)
After amalgamation in 1995 Simon, facing a larger electorate and one that was born since the fall of Rome, decided that being a one-trick-political-pony would not be enough to get him elected in the new suburban Abbotsford.
People now had phones, radios, TVs and cars. It was the dawn of a new world.
Simon Adds a Pony
So Simon, always in tune with the times (some times … not our times), embarked on a campaign to keep drug addicts from having access to life-saving clean needles. Simon didn’t agree with the multi-pronged approach to saving lives the majority of health professionals advocate. He believed so strongly in the faith-based approach he didn’t want anybody to be allowed to try anything else.
As a result of Simon’s new two-pony act, the City of Abbotsford put itself in a position where its citizens, while guaranteed the right to the same life-saving health care as any other Canadian are denied those rights by virtue of their choice of city.
On The Lighter Side
In fairness to Simon he is more likely to be remembered by councillors, staff and the unfortunates who have to attend council meetings for his sense of humour.
Terrified of taking an unpopular side on an issue Simon developed a nifty little trick of making sure that, when a motion is made with which he thinks his supporters will agree, instead of bravely stepping forward and seconding the motion he interrupts the chair to ensure that his name is registered as supporting the seconding of the motion.
Then (if we’re lucky) he shuts up.
His questions have almost always missed the point of the discussion; his contributions have hardly ever had any merit but he has provided a superfluity of comic relief to generations and generations of council watchers.
For the sake of future generations who will have to pay for all of your decisions Simon … please … exit stage left, pickup your complimentary, laudatory feature in either of the two chain-owned newspapers and enjoy the pasture which awaits you.
Editor’s Note: Simon will be attempting to get a retirement package paid for by his friends and neighbours this spring by running as a Liberal in May’s provincial election. If he wins he will finally leave the Abbotsford Council table but then we will have a representative in Victoria who doesn’t understand what jurisdictions the different levels of government have.
He’ll also have to juggle more than one issue at a time.
If, on the other hand, he fails in his bid to be Mike de Jong’s groom of the stool, we will be saddled with him in city politics until the next municipal election.
It almost seems worth it to simply cut him a cheque so he will leave us alone.
As more and more citizens have begun to pay attention to what happens at City Hall over the last few years, more and more people are sharing their surprise at what is either a monumental level of farce or a depressingly high level of absurdity at the City of Abbotsford.
Others have commented on how long the same faces have been sitting around the same council table yapping absurdly about issues about which they seem to have absolutely no knowledge, let alone expertise.
A few of the most egregious examples of the twaddle which passes for a public agenda in Abbotsford …
- DCCs – Contrary to the legislation and the best practices guidelines passed and published by the BC government Abbotsford applies its Development Cost Charges in ways never intended and, in some cases, specifically prohibited, by the province
- Community Charter – BC’s Community Charter, which governs the way municipalities are allowed to act, specifically prohibits the financial support of private businesses. Abbotsford sees thing differently
- Canada Health Act – Contrary to the Canada Health Act Abbotsford City Council passed a bylaw which prevents the Fraser Health Authority from carrying out its duties under the law by restricting the use of property in Abbotsford for needle exchanges. Abbotsford is the only city or community in BC that has done so (out of fear, according to Councillor Simon Gibson, of an influx of addicts from other jurisdictions where needle exchanges are allowed??) despite the bylaw being ultra vires
- Shark Fin Ban – The City of Abbotsford has banned the sale of Shark Fin Soup even though it has no jurisdiction to do so and such bans have been struck down as ultra vires.
- Abysmal understanding of statistical analysis and/or economic forecasting. Thanks to the duo of Parks & Rec Director Mark Taylor and Economic Development Manager Jay Teichroeb, City Council has gleefully been borrowing, spending and committing money the City doesn’t have based on faulty, erroneous and wildly inaccurate forecasts made back in 2005 and earlier on:
a. Population growth – which has only grown to 133,000 (10,000 since 2005) … not the 140,000 and more predicted by bureaucrats
b. Economic growth – which has stalled
c. Water usage
Some of these wizards have portrayed themselves as experienced financial councillors, former bankers, realtors, environmentalists or representatives of the religious right …
The universal reaction of those who are now beginning to follow what happens at City Hall and have spoken to me is one of astonishment at the low level of the debate and the pompous inaccuracy of the arguments being bandied about as though these people actually knew what they were talking about.
When one takes the time to spend an evening at an Abbotsford Council meeting, or an afternoon at an Executive Committee meeting it can sometimes take your breath away when you discover just how decisions about the multimillion dollar enterprise which is your city are handled.
We used to advise people to come out to at least one meeting a year for the educational and community value it would have. Lately, since a few people have started showing up to Council meetings, we’re being told it is either too much to endure or it is worth coming back just for the comic relief.
Before anyone accuses me or Abbotsford Today of debasing or cheapening the offices or the processes of municipal government … it is not the messenger who passes on the public’s feelings who is debasing or cheapening the offices or the processes, it is those who hold the offices and treat them with such disregard that they bring such criticism upon themselves who are doing the debasing and the cheapening.
The people of Abbotsford deserve better.
Suffice it to be said that, with very few exceptions the majority of those at the council table and in the executive suite are a huge disappointment to the people who pay their salaries.
I will not be restricting myself to lampooning my targets (though my editor assures me I can certainly do that) but I will also offer concise and compelling arguments why they should give themselves a pat on the back, pick up their laudatory exit feature in the local paper and move on to pasture which eagerly awaits them.
My editor tells me I can have my suggestions published but that he reserves the right to add any suggestions we receive from our readers. So go ahead and make suggestions.
AmbrÖse Bierce is Today’s writer in residence who occasionally gives voice to the concerns of individual citizens and taxpayers who, for a variety of reasons, are unable or unwilling to take a public stand on issues of relevance to the rest of the community. Reasons may include possible loss of job, injury to their business, or any number of quite legitimate reasons to keep their mouths shut.
While all columns and letters on Today are signed by their authors, we have decided to provide this venue for those with legitimate opinions, based on fact, with something to contribute to the public debate in the city. This is not a place for wild venting or personal attacks. AmbrÖse requires you identify yourself to him and explain why you need to keep your identity secure.
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