Chamber Members Should Pay For Housing Project

By October 8, 2013Issues, Mike Archer

By Mike Archer. Having stated their support for the Housing First philosophy as a means of dealing with the issue of homelessness (just not where the homeless live) and stood squarely in the path of the proposed solution, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce agrees wholeheartedly with Mayor Banman – someone, somewhere should come up with some land and some money for these people.

Just not where the City said it should be or the provincial government agreed to pay for it. He utters these words knowing full well that the funding will be snatched away as soon as his council changes its mind, reneges on its commitment and turns its back on the poor.

It other words – tough luck for the homeless again. By the time the project is turned down by Banman’s council, the Chicken Shit Mayor will have managed to shut out the homeless, the drug addicts, those with alcohol problems and anyone else who doesn’t measure up to his or the Sally Ann’s warped check list of their peculiar definition of the deserving.

Tough luck. You shouldn’t have become homeless.

How about if the membership of the Chamber of Commerce paid for the new Supportive Housing Project?

Within their membership surely someone owns a nice chunk of land near Downtown Abbotsford where we could build a Supportive Housing Project. Surely within its membership the Chamber of Commerce can drum up a paltry $2.4 million in capital funding and $215,000 in annual operating costs to prove how much they believe in the Housing First strategy.

Why do our newspapers allow these people to get away with this crap.

In a story published this morning by the Abbotsford News, reporter Alex Butler actually wrote, “The idea was recently endorsed [italics our] by the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, which stated that while they support a housing-first approach to addressing homelessness, it should not be within the C7 zone.”

You call that ‘endorsing’ the idea!

How can someone who must have gone to a journalism school of some sort, or at least taken a course in journalism, write such mindnumbingly subservient tripe on behalf of an organization which has supported the City of Abbotsford on every project and decision in the last decade that has ruined the economy of this community and destroyed the City’s finances.

The fact the Chamber thinks it ought to be allowed to get away with such garbage, and continue to play an important political role in decisions about social policy, city finances and economic development demonstrates a lack of care for the well-being of its members or the community as a whole which is truly stunning.

The fact that the newspapers were right there in the trenches with the Chamber supporting every bad idea we’ve seen over the last decade may have something to do with the fact they quote these people as though they had something worthwhile to say.

Thanks to the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce’s support we now have:

  • The Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, Global Spectrum and the Abbotsford Heat which together suck $10 million a year out of taxpayers’ pockets for an average of about 3,000 local fans
  • The Reach Museum and Art Gallery which sucks a mere $650,000 out of taxpayers’ pockets for a museum which isn’t even open when most people could visit it
  • Two Federal overpasses on a Federal Highway for which we paid 2/3 of the costs and emptied what was left of our Development Cost Charges (DCC) funds
  • A corporate, developer-friendly agenda at City Hall which has led to a seemingly endless number of empty lots with billboards advertising projects that may never occur
  • A solid decade of declining, housing starts, building permits, employment and hope for small business or youth in this city
  • If the Chamber had had its way we would also be swallowing the $300,000,000 cost of a new water supply we didn’t need and which it wholeheartedly supported along with the two newspapers cheering from the sidelines..

    We are the only city in the Fraser Valley which has DCC funds which are millions of dollars in arrears. We keep borrowing from one budget in order to pretend there is money in another.

    Now the Chamber wants to dictate how social policy is made in Abbotsford. Not satisfied with having broken the City its members are forced to do business in, the Chamber now feels it has the gravitas and the necessary knowledge and wisdom to dictate social policy.

    The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce has to learn to keep its nose out of politics and social policy and its hands out of the taxpayers’ pockets. We have already paid dearly for the Chamber of Commerce’s daft ideas about economic growth. We can’t afford any more of it’s help.

    After a decade of mucking about where it has no business it has done more damage to this City than we will be able to fix in a generation.

    That the newspapers keep regurgitating the mindless pablum which emanates from president after president of this dangerous, self-serving and heartless organization ought to be a cause for shame for anyone in the business who still considers themselves a journalist.

    If the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce leadership thinks the proposed Supportive Housing Project is such a great idea, just not where the City, the ACS and BC Housing are prepared to fund it, then the Chamber members should pay to put the project where they think it should go.

    Otherwise the Chamber should shut up and stick to whatever it is the Chamber is good at.

    Make Up Your Minds …

    Note: Here’s where the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce stood on this important issue back in 2008. Their full-fledged support probably had something to do with the fact city staff and the ACS took them at their word and planned something that looked exactly like what the Chamber executive said they supported … and now oppose.

    Abbotsford Chamber - supportive housing  support

    Cover Artwork from

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