By Mike Archer. Dumbfounded. That’s how I felt listening to Mayor Bruce Banman reading a letter from Stephen Butz, the president and CEO of YMCA Vancouver, telling Abbotsford residents the company has decided to ‘indefinitely postpone’ its plans to accept $17.5 million and tax free status from Abbotsford taxpayers because Mark Taylor died.

Dumfounded …

Not because of what seemed like a sudden about face on a multi-million project on which Butz and the YMCA had spent years and had devoted a lot of money, time and effort too.

Not because the reason givem – Mark Taylor’s tragic and untimely death – seemed like it would make an organization as big as the YMCA suddenly abandon such an enormous project. What on earth do they do when their own staff die?

Not because this was a major announcement that will impact on the careers of politicians like Bruce Banman and Mike de Jong who have campaigned tirelessly for the YMCA.

Not because this is a major setback for the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) and its plans to develop the old MSA hospital grounds.

Not even because the $1.5 million in provincial funds MLA Mike de Jong had committed to the project will now be available for him to spend in his relentless drive to purchase a seat in the legislature with taxpayers’ money.

Not even because Mayor Banman refused to say definitively that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the taxpayers of Abbotsford and the YMCA was now null and void and then suggested that the City of Abbotsford talk publicly about the issue no more.

No. What left me dumbfounded was that Mayor Banman, in an almost fatherly tone, read the letter without breaking into his characteristic laugh.

For that is what both the letter and Mayor Banman’s performance amount to – a monumental joke pulled on the taxpayers of Abbotsford using the memory of Mark Taylor to save face or worse, to move the goal posts so that the proposal can be picked up at a later date.

That Banman didn’t return the letter demanding an apology makes him complicit in besmirching Mark Taylor’s memory by allowing the Young Men’s Christian Association to use his death as a prop in a multi-million dollar gambit.

Christian indeed.

Fred Thiessen had the courage to stand up to the orchestrated charade and ask Banman to tell taxpayers the Memorandum of Understanding which legally binds the taxpayers to the YMCA is now null and void and Banman wouldn’t do it.

You want to play the tragedy card Bruce, Fred can meet your challenge. So can most families in town.

Now what about the taxpayers’ business which is what you are supposed to be dealing with in a respectful, honest and open manner?

A more shameful use of a man’s memory is hard to imagine … and these people claimed to be his friends. But then politics and big business don’t allow for much humanity do they.

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Walter Neufeld says:

    Banman had an opportunity to distinguish himself from the previous administration’s ill advised public expenditures by stopping the YMCA’s indecent plea for taxpayer money. He chose not to and instead aligned himself with his predecessors crippling spending strategies.

    Using Mark Taylor’s tragic death as an excuse for indefinitely sidelining the YMCA proposal is…inexcusable.

    Time to accept responsibility for the administrative failures that have for too long plagued our city’s governance. Unless Council has a clear-eyed understanding of its shortcomings and accepts responsibility for them, it is destined to repeat the same mistakes at our expense.

    We need more from the people who govern us. Much more.

  • anne says:

    89 people working as managerial staff at city hall make over $100,000 according to another local paper but none of them could do whatever it was Mark Taylor would have done to bring the Y here. Oh well we will have to hire someone new. Ironically in passing, Mr Taylor finally did something I don’t have an objection to.

  • Fred Thiessen says:

    Kudos for calling a spade a spade!

  • DeceitinDrugs says:

    The public needs to get their heads out of the sands and attend
    council meetings about important city issues.

    I would say, “astounding silence and almost disbelief about
    what was being read and the Mayor’s comments following the
    reading of the YMCA letter.

    THE mayor was very vaque on questions about the MOU and there
    was an almost deafing silence amongst the rest of council,
    making question: Did they just receive this letter and read
    it at the council meeting and how could the YMCA send a letter
    postponing their plans, without council/STAFF having anY understanding
    about what it all entails in relation to the MOU between the
    City of Abbotsford and YMCA???.

    I would say the Mayor has ALOT of explaining to do to the taxpayers!

  • DeceitinDrugs says:

    The words “slither and snake” come to mind….never
    seen such a preformance in the sneaky introduction of the
    YMCA letter and Banman’s reading of their reasons for not
    continuing to pursue a YMCA in Abbotsford.

    Who exactly concocted this idea to explain termination of City of Abbotsford/YMCA plans to pursue a YMCA in Abbotsford, in order to
    avoid giving the real reasons for this latest change of plans?

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