By Mike Archer. Treating the homeless and drug victims as less than human is not news in Abbotsford. It is simply the way in which some of the leaders of this Christian community believe the poor, the unfortunate and the disadvantaged ought to be treated.
Abbotsford Today contributor and researcher Lily Kaetler sent me links to two stories which occurred just prior to the launch of Abbotsford Today Magazine and website back in 2008. One was from the National Post and the other from CBC.
Both dealt with the decision by two well known and respected community leaders – former Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) president Bob Bos and Councillor John Smith – to stop Pastor Christopher Reiners* of the Peace Lutheran Church from feeding the homeless.
According to Brian Hutchinson of the Post, “Pastor Reiners was shocked. He had preached in Winnipeg’s toughest neighbourhoods before moving here five years ago. He thought he was doing a good turn for the community. God’s work.”
God’s work indeed.
Not in Abbotsford. Not if it involves feeding the homeless or helping the victims of drugs. This City has a long and well established tradition of chasing its poor and downtrodden with police dogs, moving them day after day, taking their belongings and ensuring they have nowhere to go, no one to turn to, no hope left.
Who is behind this twisted, amoral, uncaring and Machiavellian method of dealing with social issues and society’s most unfortunate members.The Villains In This Plot Are Well Known And Easy To Recognize
John Smith has sat astride Abbotsford’s powerful Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee where for years it was obvious he loved the job so because he got to deflect projects, needs, desires and demands by studying them only to find them too expensive for the poor beleaguered taxpayer of Abbotsford who was, it turns out, expected to pay for John’s $1million Friendship Garden, his $500,000,000 Plan A fiasco, and the anticipated $300,000,000 new water supply it turned out we didn’t need.
It turns out John has made such a mess of the City of Abbotsford’s finances we can’t afford to help the poor anyway. Good thing he didn’t allow us to spend any money housing the rotters.
John is a former banker so he likes to think in big numbers. Feeding homeless people and saving the lives of drug addicts are just not the kind of big ideas John deals in. So he and his friend Bob Bos engaged in a little social engineering.
Pushing the homeless around and using Abbotsford’s private police force to harass, falsely arrest and imprison marijuana activist Tim Felger all in order to help Bob turn a profit on his large investment in old downtown Abbotsford … now that’s the kind of progressive community planning John can get behind.
A misuse of public money and the public trust if I ever heard of it, and, it looks like Tim Felger is intent on proving it … in the courts. You can bet it ain’t John and Bob who are paying the Abbotsford Police’s and the RCMP’s legal bills in that ongoing, unraveling fiasco.
Getting the homeless out of downtown (without having a clue where they were supposed to go) seemed like a good idea and a great way to spend taxpayers’ money.A Comical, Silly And Dangerous Jester
Simon Gibson, a good churchy kinda guy, is of much the same persuasion. If prayer and abstinence can’t help you to hold down a nice middle class job and buy a house in the suburbs then maybe you should just, I don’t know, die alone in an alley or something.
Simon’s nonsensical defense of Abbotsford’s ultra vires ‘Anti Harm Reduction Bylaw’, together with pseudo-crime fighter Darryl Plecas’ illegal war on drugs have combined to cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in lawsuits just in time for the two of them to disappear, on the taxpayers’ dime, to Victoria, leaving a trail of lawsuits. behind them.
While we’re at it why don’t we spread chicken shit all over the sad piece of dirt they call home and just be done with these horrible people. I say, have you smelled them. It’s as though they haven’t taken the time to bathe.
What a lovely, caring community.
And people like Simon Gibson, John Smith and Bob Bos are happy to make money off of their friends and neighbours while kicking the less fortunate, quite literally to the curb in their mindless pursuit of economic growth which fails and eludes them at every turn.
(Except Simon of course, who collects three public salaries in his pursuit of the middle class dream of a work-free retirement. It pays to worship at the public alter.).A Business Agenda Means Some Business People Make Money … The Rest Just Pay The Price
Until this community faces up to the fact that it has been sold a bill of goods worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which it will have to pay, by a group of people with no one’s interests at heart but their own, who manipulated people’s deeply held conservative, religious beliefs in order to build a city they hoped would make them and their supporters rich, proud and successful, we won’t be able to begin to unravel the costs of their selfishness.
It has all come undone, as so many predicted it would, and as a result of John Smith’s political success we have the worst finances of any municipality in the Fraser Valley and most of BC; an intractable homelessness problem; Canada’s highest rates of Hep C and HIV and the highest unemployment rate in Western Canada.
Housing starts are at a standstill; economic growth has stalled; realtors and business people can’t make money here and the much vaunted flood of newcomers never materialized. Population growth has stalled.
Is it so hard to figure out why?
Abbotsford is rotting from the bottom up and the top down. Those at the top who have caused it to happen, blithely collect their public pay cheques and their rent, slap each other on the back and send in the cops and the dogs to take care of the poor and addicted.
As James Breckenridge told the CBC Wednesday, “It had to come from the top.” The fact that Banman, or Smith or Gibson or anyone else cannot yet be accused of giving the order, someone with the authority to do so, spread chicken feces along the side of the road in the City of Abbotsford with the clear intention of teaching the homeless a lesson.
Or perhaps they were thinking of teaching some young kid on his or her way home from school a lesson. Or maybe a senior walking back from the dollar store who could track the filth into their home and suffer the treacherous and potentially deadly results of the City’s callous disregard for public health.The Buck Stops Where?
The person or persons who did this despicable thing did so as an employee(s) of the people of Abbotsford with the clear expectation that the power structure to whom they report would either be proud of them or turn the other way.
Someone has made it OK to act this way on the public dime in Abbotsford. That buck stops at Bruce Banman’s desk. His response was reportedly to threaten staff with dismissal if they spoke to the media.
Fine way to act under pressure Bruce. Why don’t you take a shot at us too for reporting the story and, forgive the pun, but, the shit storm of controversy now enveloping you. It’s the tried and true methodology of your mentor – George the 1st. When cornered … attack.
From top to bottom the City of Abbotsford ought to be ashamed of the culture it has created which has lead to such a despicable and deeply unchristian action. George Murray’s apology was swift and he earned his keep by taking one for the team.
It doesn’t change the fact that somebody thought this was OK.
After years of clubbing homeless people in the night; attacking them with dogs; chasing them from shit hole to shit hole until they literally had nowhere else to go, it was inevitable this horrible incident would happen, because no one told them this is not the way we treat our fellow human beings.
What does the Sally Ann think of all of this? It happened on their doorstep. Is this a Christian response to poverty? Is the smell of Chicken Shit a pleasant gift from our City Fathers?
That this lesson has to be taught to a group of adults who consider themselves community leaders is a shameful example of just how far this community has strayed from whatever righteous path it believed itself to be on.
There needs to be more than soul searching in response to this despicable incident. In an honourable group of men and women, someone would resign for allowing this to happen. Instead they will probably fire someone.
Who am I kidding; they’ll probably give them a medal and have a good laugh.
What a lovely, caring community.
The fact that this happened again, and we will be ridiculed again on the national stage ought to tell someone in the power structure this: It’s not so much the fact that we’re boring as the fact that we’re reprehensible we ought to be discussing.
Cover Art from The History of Emotions Blog