Dear Mayor Banman and members of Council for the City of Abbotsford:
I have been involved in politics for close to sixty years. I have lived through food rationing, the F.L.Q. crisis, the “tongue police” but never, ever, I have I experienced what happened at the council meeting, this evening, March 10, 2014.
I have heard it said that the three most talked about cities in all of Canada are Toronto, Montreal and yes, Abbotsford! The problems in each of these cities stem from the actions of the mayor of each. In my opinion, not something to be proud of. As a matter of fact, I am ashamed to say to friends that I live in Abbotsford.
$15.3 million handed to you by the provincial government and three councilors and the mayor vote against the grant. Bravo to Councilors Braun, Loewen, Ross and Gill for continuing to support the project, however, I was absolutely dumbfounded when the mayor, Smith, Barkman and McGregor voted against Councilor Braun’s motion to reconsider the original motion on the bylaw change to allow Abbotsford Community Services to build a Supportive Housing Unit for men who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.
As I drove by the supposed second site, Gladys and Hazel, I noted that city crews were cutting trees and shrubs. In preparation for what? Surely the city is not thinking of attempting to finesse “a deal” to have the proposed 20 man unit built here, are they? It seems a mere coincidence to me that on the very day of the last scheduled council meeting prior to the expiration of the 30 day grace period, city workers are doing some preparation of the site.
I have listened to and watched Mayor Banman for the past six months tell lies, half truths and fairy tales about this project. A bylaw is NOT a contract, Mr. Banman! At the public hearing on February 3rd, 2014, more than 2/3 of the speakers spoke in favor of the project and not as you, Mr. Banman, have stated in all forms of media. I recall at a public information meeting where Mr. Banman rose to speak and made mention, as he had done in the past, that he was waiting for both the federal and provincial governments to step up to the plate with funding and then he would recommend to Council that they consider the project. Another speaker rose, namely the writer, and informed Mr. Banman that the provincial government had already stepped to the plate with $15.3 million. That was the last time that you, Mr. Banman, trotted that story out. You were caught in a blatant lie! Your comments, Mr. Banman, at the forum last week at UFV were nothing more than disgusting, belittling and embarrassing. Talking about performing lobotomies on the homeless, mentally ill, addicted! Talking about locking them up. Really Mr. Banman, how far behind the times are you? I would say a long, long way.
Mr. Banman, I will not refer to you as Mayor Banman as, as far as I am concerned, you are not worthy of the title. The unemployment rate in Abbotsford currently stands at 9%, the highest in all of Western Canada and nearly double that of the next highest municipality. How are you connected, Mr. Banman, to the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) and the Chamber of Commerce, both who are vehemently oppose to the proposed site, immediately behind Abbotsford Community Services? There must be a connection somewhere for you to be so strongly opposed to the project.
In closing, I would like to hope that Mr. Banman, Councilors Smith, Barkman and McGregor sleep well at night. I know of at least 20 men who, because of your actions, will not have a warm bed to sleep in for some time to come. Also, please remember, that your actions on the ACS Supportive Housing Project will not be forgotten and, when each of you fails to be re-elected this fall, you will look back and remember that the reason was that you denied 20 men the opportunity to start to get their lives back together and to become contributing members of society.
In disappointment and disgust,
Basil D. Stevens