By Mike Archer. The Abbostsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) sounds like it ought to be able to achieve important things for a community like Abbotsford with some of the highest rates of homelessness, Hep C infection and HIV.
A community which, instead of providing a hand up to the poor and the homeless by providing them with housing and help, opts to sic the cops and the bylaw department on them using pepper spray and chicken feces could, you would think, learn from other communities like Langley and Chilliwack which have taken a more humane approach and have reduced their homeless problems accordingly.
The ASDAC, one would think, would be at the heart of the policy-making surrounding social development issues like homelessness by bringing together representatives of all in the care community and those like the police, the city and the business community who are also involved with the homeless issues in our community.
So much for what one might think.
Councillor John Smith, who in 2008 told the CBC that the Abbotsford Bylaw Department and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) were about to embark on a major initiative against the homeless in response to Pastor Christoph Reiners’ insistence on his peculiar Christian ritual of feeding the homeless, was the Council representative on ASDAC during the many years during which absolutely nothing was done to address the issue of how the City treats the homeless.
Other, of course, than the policy Smith seemed to be announcing of abuse and terror unleashed by the bylaw department and the police.
Read through the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee June 12 Minutes and you will hear all of those involved with helping the poor and the homeless talk about the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless incident, the fact that nothing ever seems to get done about homelessness in Abbotsford and the role of the police and the bylaw department in mistreating the homeless.
Only three people at the meeting seemed either to miss the point of the meeting or avoid the issue under discussion.
Deb Lowell, the PR and advertising rep for the Salvation Army, which, it was later revealed, had been on board with the City’s manure dump; the representative from the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) who back tracked when the discussion came up about Abbotsford Community Services’ proposal for Supportive Housing for the homeless; and Councillor Bill MacGregor, who, coincidentally represents council on both the ASDAC and the ADBA.
Given that ASDAC passed a motion of support for the proposal and stated that it would help to move the proposal forward, what is MacGregor going to do?
Is he going to do his job representing the interests of ASDAC to council or is he going to do his job representing the interests of the ADBA to council.
Since the ADBA has shown a willingness to say anything it takes, true or not, to convince people to sign as many poorly worded petitions as they can produce in order to save their investments from the perceived danger of the proposed housing project, and, given his predecessor’s record of failure at convincing his fellow councillors of the value of the ASDAC’s opinions, MacGregor may find himself in a hot spot.
He will have to decide which room full of committee members he wants to sit down with after his vote on the ACS proposal. Either way, Bill’s gonna have some explaining to do.
There are others in a similar conflict of interest who ought to reconsider what they are doing. If the homeless and those who work with them are relying on you to do what’s right by them, but your other commitments to the business community are pulling you in the opposite direction – you are in a conflict of interest.
You owe it to your fellow citizens, not only to declare your conflict but remove yourselves from this entire discussion. Either that or resign one of your commitments and state your intentions publicly.