From www.davidsahlstrom.ca. For too long Abbotsford has been working for special interest groups and not for its residents. Like me, those who live, work and play here have been used as the pocketbook for pet projects, for developers, and those with connections. As a result our taxes have steadily increased far faster than they should.
Decisions have continually been behind closed doors. Decisions that could and should be debated in public. Decisions that affect the lives of we who live work and play here. Making decisions that effectively alienate us.
I believe Abbotsford should be managed for those who live, work and play here. Our taxes should be fair and used to provide services for us. Decisions, whenever possible by law, should be made in public and should engage us. I encourage you to discover who I am through this website and to contact me with any questions.
If elected I will get Abbotsford working for you.
Since implementing metered billing we have seen dramatic increases in our water rates. Residential water users pay more than Industrial, Commercial and Agriculture. We have seen increased use restrictions.
Here are a few facts:
- During the referendum on Stave Lake, we were told we’d run out of water by 2016.
- Three years have gone by since the Stave Lake referendum and there is no plan for increased supply.
- Water shortage was not as great as stated – water use went down after the referendum. It increased marginally last year.
- Agriculture is greatest driver of summer peak demand not residential use.
- Abbotsford spent over $6mil developing Bevan Wells which required an Envrionmental Certificate to operate.
- However, the wells have not been used enough to monitor their environmental impact to support a new Environmental Certificate so the City has applied for a temporary extension.
- The Bevan Wells Environmental Certificate expires December 31, 2015 because this is the date that the City asked for.
- Councillor John Smith moved to adopt a reduction in residential water rates at open council in June 2013 but then moved to maintain residential water rates at their current levels in November.
- The Community Charter requires that Abbotsford provide a document detailing how the user rate structure is determined. Despite asking for it for 5 years, Abbotsford has not provided me a copy. I can only assume there is no basis for the water user rates we are being charged.
- User rates pay for 30% of the capital costs for expanding the system which is to say that we are paying 30% of the costs for development.
We need a rational plan to move forward. A plan that increases the supply in conjunction with the need.
My Expertise and Position
I have followed the issue since moving here in 1994. As an Agrologist and owning a Bed & Breakfast, caring for my garden has been important. I have experience continued restrictions on watering my garden to the point that I can no longer care for my garden within the restrictions.
I have reviewed all the documents including the Master Water Plan, Stave Lake Plan, Bevan Wells Construction, Bevan Wells Environmental Assessment, Council Reports and Minutes
I understand the issue and can work to getting our water system to work for us. We need to plan for the future needs providing water supply as the need develops. The expansion should be paid for by those who create the increase demand. Residents have paid for the system we now have and should not be paying again.
I believe the rate structure should be equitable to all water users. Just like other utilities, there are two components to the cost or water – the cost of the water system maintenance, upgrades and replacement and the cost of treating and delivering water. It costs the same to treat a litre of water whether it is used by residents, industry, commercial or agriculture and the rate structure should be based on this cost.
HOMELESS (OR DISENFRANCHISED)
Homeless – The Situation
Abbotsford has a population of homeless that cause disruption in neighbourhoods. They have been shunted from one area of the City to another. The City has treated them with extreme prejudice destroying their belongings, spraying their campsites with chicken manure and having the police target them.
Homelessness is the result of not only bad decisions and lifestyle but also for many a result of mental illness. According to the 2014 Homeless Count, there were 151 homeless in Abbotsford. Over half had addiction problems, almost a third had mental heath problems, a quarter had medical conditions and 20% had physical conditions.
Abbotsford has not found a solution:
- Abbotsford formed the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) in 2006 in part to address the homeless problem – councilor John Smith was chair but it failed to develop a plan,
- An Memorandum Of Understanding with Abbotsford Community Services was signed by the City for homeless housing but the plan was rejected this year,
- The Abbotsford Homeless Task Force was formed this year co-chaired by John Smith and Patricia Ross. Its two recommendations were to 1) Hire a Homeless Coordinator at a yearly expense of about $100k and 2) Establish a Homelessness Action Committee.
- There is still no tangible plan or policy to treat the homeless with respect or give them the opportunity to end their plight.
Abbotsford needs a rational plan to address the needs of the homeless. Such a plan should be developed over time. However, their disgraceful treatment needs to stop now. If an alternative is not available to them, then they should not be discriminated against.
My Expertise and Position
Despite the reason for being homeless, everyone needs to be treated with respect. These are people in need and they should not be punished if we cannot meet their needs. At the same time I do not condone the destruction of private property or harassing behavior.
My position is that the plan should not be centered on City Hall but should support those who have cared for the homeless for such a long time. We need to incorporate consultation with the homeless and the current aid workers in the planning. The plan should seek to integrate the support of such agencies as the MCFD, the FHA and the federal government. The plan should create an environment where the efforts of all the care givers are coordinated and supported.