By Mike Archer. For the first time in its modern history, the Abbotsford News is on the right side of a major issue … before City Council votes on it and with the community.
For the first time the Abbotsford News has broken with the Chamber of Commerce, the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) Councillor John Smith, downtown landowner Bob Bos and those with financial and moral agendas which conflict with the objectives of the community, and taken a stand. A weak stand for sure, but a stand nonetheless.
For years Abbotsford’s newspapers have stood with those who have bent and twisted the civic agenda and millions of dollars in public funding away from modern solutions to our social problems, real economic growth and the infrastructure to support it, proper public financing, or open municipal government.
They have blindly supported the Chamber of Commerce, the ADBA and the forces for a return to failed social policy like Simon Gibson and John Smith, in all of the major initiatives of the last decade which have both failed and saddled us with long term debts and legal problems which will take more than a decade to unravel.
Abbotsford’s newspapers supported John Smith, the Chamber of Commerce and the ADBA on issues such as:
- Plan A
- Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre – White Elephant on King Road
- George Peary’s Deal with the Abbotsford Heat
- Our Two New Overpasses, Paid For Mostly By Us For The Benefit Of Downtown Merchants
- Abbotsford’s Infamous Water Shortage/Surplus
- The Ledgeview Golf Course Bailout
- Bruce Banman’s YMCA Tax Giveaway
- Abbotsford’s Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw
This blind, servile and obsequious support has helped provide Abbotsford citizens with:
- The ADBA/Chamber Strategy To Cleanse Downtown Of Undesirables
- An infrastructure deficit which is strangling economic growth
- The Disappearance of $41 Million from Our DCC Reserves
- A collapse of Economic Development
- The Abbotsford building permit crash
- A virtual end to housing starts in Abbotsford
- The highest unemployment in Western Canada
- Some of the highest rates of HIV and Hep C in Canada
- A large and growing homeless crisis
Quite a record of failure … and yet.
In one of the meekest, most guarded and spineless positions taken on any subject of importance to any community anywhere, News editor Andrew Holota wrote last week that Abbotsford seemed to be losing its mindless war on the homeless (nicer than that of course but you know what I mean).
He was immediately attacked by Bob Bos, whose letter has drawn the ire of many in the community (Bob Bos Is Just Plain Wrong, Open Letter To Robert Bos). Bos also attacked reporter Alex Butler, who has almost single-handedly dragged the News, kicking and screaming, into the 20th Century with her coverage of our 21st Century homeless crisis.
Apparently deviating from the power structure’s canon of stupidity, however timidly and inoffensively, is something Holota wasn’t supposed to do.
Abbotsford has suffered the fate of any community whose newspapers failed to play the role most citizens used to rely on them for – that of opposition to the power structure. Newspapers used to, at the very least, question the power structure occasionally, but until Abbotsford Today came along with it’s blunt approach to issues in the community and those in the power structure who relied on an acquiescent and subservient media, Abbotsford’s chain-owned newspapers seemed to have lost any sense of the role their community thought they were playing.
It’s one of the reasons newspapers are dropping like flies. Many of them have ceased being of any use to their readers because they simply parrot the opinions of people and organizations whose interests often do not align with the citizens of the communities in which they operate.
Once the grocery stores stop relying on their door-to-door delivery to an aging readership, those which remain will have lost their final reason for existence.
As far as the News’ sudden realization, after more than ten years, that we have a homeless crisis … better late than never.