Dear Editor. I’m baffled by our Mayor’s rejection of an approval that would have given 20 men, who are currently living under tarps on the side of the road on Gladys, a home.
His reason for doing so, as he said, was because nobody asked stakeholders in the downtown area what they thought of the proposal in advance.
Has he not been listening? Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) was not allowed to talk about it — period. People who were invited to participate in any of the preliminary work, which took place over years, were given a gag order by the provincial government. This is how BC Housing works. Did Mayor Banman not hear this during the public hearing?
He should also know that once an application for rezoning has been accepted by his staff, that is when the notice to the neighbourhood is done. Nothing here was done incorrectly. Is he trying to punish ACS, (and 20 homeless men), by suggesting they weren’t being polite?
Let’s imagine, for a moment, that ACS could, and did, consult with the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) before the application for rezoning was made. Remember that the ADBA’s rejection of and campaign against this project was based on the fact that business downtown would be ruined by having these men in their neighbourhood. How would asking them, in advance, change that? If they knew, six month earlier, that ACS was planning to build this 20-bed facility, would that make the business owners there OK with the facility? Or the potential investors they claim they have, but would lose, not flee? Ridiculous.
Banman used this as an excuse to say no. I think he gambled that the majority of the voters would agree with him, and consider him their hero – saving us from the potential of having 20 men who were on the side of the road, now with decent, safe shelter, living three blocks from downtown, terrorizing shoppers.
We need to let him know he was dead wrong.
Editor’s note: We have agreed to withhold the letter writer’s name because of the possible repercussions they might experience for having it published.