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.
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.
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.