By Mike Archer. If you want to feel the irrational, boiling anger which seems to consume some of those opposed to the ACS’ proposal to help 20 homeless men get back on their feet, just read what former Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) president Bob Bos – perhaps as responsible as any other for the policy of harassment and abuse directed at Abbotsford’s homeless – had to say in response to one the mildest and most non-committal comments I’ve ever read on a political or civil rights issue by Abbotsford News Editor Andrew Holota.
In the parochial, dimwitted fashion that so exemplifies the ADBA and the Chamber of Commerce’s recent comments, Bos accuses Holota of being from ‘away’ – as though geographic location has any bearing on the value of an opinion or an argument.
The letter is filled with such nonsensical, hurtful and just plain dumb reasoning that it is difficult to comment.
Sometimes people are just plain wrong. Blaming the poor, the dysfunctional and the weak for the failure of the promises made by the ADBA and politicians like John Smith is the lowest form of bullying. And this city has seen enough bullying to last it a century.
One of the aspects of Bob’s letter which makes it a singular and important document is that there is nothing in it which addresses either the concerns of the community or the lives of his fellow citizens. It is all about him and those hapless enough to oppose him.
Moreover it reads like a challenge from a bully.
It fails to successfully make the argument that the right of him and his tenants to make money supercedes those of the homeless men and women he has been relentlessly attacking for over a decade. And yet, through all of its various renditions and permutations that is what his argument amounts to.
He and his tenants want to make money. They have an irrational fear of the homeless. Therefore the City should not rezone a miniscule piece of property on the far edge of downtown in order to help 20 men get off of the streets of downtown.
Read it through again and try to find simpler, truer summary of what he and the ADBA are saying.
Bob Bos has used his position in this community as a landowner, landlord, developer and president and director of the ADBA to very effectively promote his own pecuniary* interests. For that he deserves the praise of all those who worship at the twin shrines of the accumulation of wealth and the effective use of political influence.
He has done very well for himself at the expense of those of his fellow citizens who are poor, jobless, mortgageless, alcohol dependent, drug addicted, victims of rape, incest and mental illness and who have ended up living on our streets.
His letter betrays a level of anger bordering on hatred for the people who, through no fault of their own, have been in his way as he built up his own personal wealth. He seems to forget that many of those who are being shuffled about were here and living downtown long before he saw an opportunity to make money here.
Bob Bos’ letter, and the disregard it demonstrates for the common and public good is the clearest argument to date for the separation of self-interested business men and women from the politicians responsible for public policy.
Bob Bos should learn to be content with the wealth he has already managed to accumulate and stop misusing his influence over the levers of power in this community to get his way. We have been forced to follow his lead on issues from homelessness, to public finance and economic development. He, along with the ADBA and the Chamber, have been consistently wrong on every issue of importance which this community has faced for over a decade. Their vision for Abbotsford has turned out to have hateful, awful and shameful results.
It is time they step back from public life and let the community begin to heal from their terrorizing influence on Abbotsford’s most defenceless men and women.The message from the community at Monday night’s public hearing was thunderous – people in this community are sick and tired of being ashamed of their city. The men and women who have put their own selfish needs ahead of the homeless men and women of Abbotsford, and ahead of the wishes and needs of their community, must now step aside and stop doing such horrific damage to the community from which they make a living.
Even Councillor John Smith, who has misused his own legislative authority by attempting to force a church to stop feeding the poor, managing the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) in such a manner as to ensure nothing ever got done, and announcing to the Globe & Mail that he had as much as instructed the Abbotsford Police Department to clean up downtown of homeless people … even John must have noticed the sea of green scarves of those supporting a new solution to homelessness which overwhelmed the small group of business people at Monday’s public hearing.
As the main political architect of the City’s stance on the homeless and the awful record on economic development which has ruined the City’s finances and exacerbated the homeless problem, Smith must be wondering just how valuable Bos’ fear mongering will be when he asks voters for one more kick at the can in November’s municipal election.
Smith has been watching his legacy turn to crap as one after another of his grand visions has emptied our treasury, failed to provide any of the promised results and ruined our good name with the rest of the world. If he really intends to run again, surely even he can sense that the community has already turned against the shameful results of his actions.
The community’s efforts are now refocusing to undo the damage done by Bob Bos, the ADBA, the Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Beck and John Smith.
Politicians who can’t see that will not survive an attempt to get re-elected in November.
* Definition provided for the mayor’s benefit.
Bob Bos’ Letter
Re: Andrew Holota column Jan. 31/13
I don’t know you personally, but I am sure getting to form an opinion of you, especially after the Friday column. Here you are, in your bully pulpit, in a position of power, as the News has the power of the press, pontificating about those “NYMBYs” in the ADBA not wanting this wonderful craphole in their downtown!
If I remember correctly, you are a Johnny-come-lately to Abbotsford News. For all I know, you don’t even live here. I know one thing you don’t have a business in the downtown, or own property there, so what the heck would you know about what we’ve had to put up with for years, before we began the work of revitalization, with the help of the C7 zone? You don’t know Jack, and that’s a fact, neither does your reporter Alex, who is always on the side of the “homeless”! Oh those poor homeless, who make their living stealing from those who live in the vicinity, accumulate more garbage in a week than a 20-house street, leave their needles all over, pee and poo on people’s front yards and are literally a major problem for all those who have to put up with them. And we are supposed to welcome a 20-unit low-barrier housing project in the downtown, that comes with a bunch of hangers-on, etc.? You’re joking, right?
You mention “why not there, they are there anyway.” Well let me explain why they are there, its call “free lunch” “supper barbeques”, church groups that would rather feed them away from their buildings, than in their buildings, that’s why they are there, no other reason! Move their lunch wagon to Grant Park in Clearbrook, the vacant property on McCallum, the corner of the bypass and Mission Hwy., on the nice grassy lot by the News, or wherever and they will be there, every day, ready for when the lunch shows up!
The reason we are having this problem on the scale it is in Abbotsford, is quite simple. We now have the largest congregation of “homeless” outside Downtown Eastside in Vancouver! The stats are there, check it out. Why? The local church community. The word is out: “come to Abby, you will be cared for.”
People have been told to go here, asked to come here from all over the Lower Mainland, B.C. and other provinces. One afternoon, a week after the camp began in Jubilee Park when, on my way to Abby Village mall I passed a couple walking from the direction of the bus depot, with him carrying a large pack on his back wrapped in an orange tarp, heading towards the downtown, I knew where they were going, and sure enough, when I got back to my office there they were, in the hotel parking lot, heading over to the park to begin setup.
Then there’s the local crap disturber, head of the “Drug War Survivors”, or something like that, creating as much problems as he can for everyone, inviting everyone and his dog to come to Abby. Hard to fight against that type of thing!
But that’s OK, you and your paper are on their side, the side that contributes nothing to your coffers, doesn’t buy a dime of advertising, but just makes life miserable for those that do contribute. Another reason for this problem in society – it’s called the “Charter of Rights,” given to us by the worst PM Canada has ever seen! That’s when this all began, we are now reaping the results!
Let me inform you of something, when this building happens, and the downtown is overrun by drug addicts, alkies, prostitutes, drug dealers, etc., like it was 10 years ago, and the police spend the majority of their time trying to clean up the mess, there won’t be many advertisers left in the downtown. But then it’ll be too late. It’ll be like the FVI before Mayor Reeves, police, fire dept., bylaws and the ADBA cleaned it up. It was a place for 20 men also, low-barrier, we know what that was like!!
What really sticks in my craw is that this preparation work on this apartment was going on for over two years, behind the scenes, at a cost to date over $200,000, and was almost a done deal, before they even came to the ADBA to inform us of their plans. They knew it was not going to fit in the C7 zone. It didn’t meet any of the criteria. Did they care? No. Are they concerned about losing? Nope, it won’t cost them a dime, paid for by you and me, through our tax dollars. Any organization that is honest, upright, has integrity or just plain cares for their neighbour would have come to the ADBA first, like many prospective businesses have, before they spent a dime. They didn’t, they don’t care, they are not a good neighbour. The entire ACS should be gone from the downtown – they have no integrity!
Check out something else. Where are all the services located that the people to be housed will need? Not in the ACS building, on Montrose, no, they have all been moved to other locations, mostly the Clearbrook area.
As far as my efforts helping people that are hurting, addicted or just plain broke? I’ve done my share, over and over again, gave them shelter in our house, hired them, fed them, did whatever I could, sometimes it worked, most times not. Do some research Andrew, find out what my involvement was in the revitalization of the downtown, then you will know why I am so opposed to this rezoning. I’m not against housing the homeless, just where its planned. I don’t think I can go through that again, I don’t have the energy. Why not ask the residential neighbours in the area what they think?
Perhaps it may have been wise, before you hitched your wagon to this train, to find out who’s on board and where it’s going and where it will eventually take you and the News. You can only hope this thing doesn’t pass!! It will not be good for anyone!