By Abnor. I was talking to one of the downtown merchants who has befriended me ever since discovering I buy coffee and can be fooled into staying for hours while ordering refills if you just ask my opinion about something, and he told me some interesting things which I can only dismiss as idle gossip.
The way this story goes, the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) has been twisting itself into pretzels trying to adapt to a more caring, kind and forward-looking president in the person of Gerry Palmer.
Though I’ve never met Gerry, I feel I know him personally, having spent probably a quarter of my life sitting outside Legal Grounds and his former law office solving the world’s problem with anyone who cared to listen (or was prepared to put up with me).
Gerry, I’ve been told, is a kind soul. So it was with some surprise I greeted word of his new vision for the ADBA as a more inclusive and welcoming one which offers a role for the homeless in the future of the organization and the community.
If I understand what Palmer appears to be saying; downtown Abbotsford may have grown enough in the last decade-and-a-half that it is possible for the higher-end retail community to be able absorb the homeless men and women who must stay in the area because all of the services they rely upon to stay alive are in downtown Abbotsford.
Maybe the ADBA has outgrown the protective, aggressive, combative, and anti-homeless attitudes adopted and promoted by Bob Bos and Paul MacLeod.
It’s an interesting idea.
Bos and MacLeod are said to be livid. Their plan to get rid of the homeless by moving 30% of them out to a camp by the dump and letting Bob Rich’s cops round up the other 70%, really doesn’t seem to deal with the fact that all of the services required by the homeless are in downtown Abbotsford.
Paul MacLeod has breakfast with the City Manager; is rumoured to have financially contributed to Bruce Banman’s re-election campaign and is working furiously to get him re-elected. Paul represents some of the rich old Abbotsford families at City Hall. Currently the plan appears to have the lukewarm support of Banman, John Smith and Patti Ross and their – “A Homeless Person In Every Pot” – Task Force.
Whether that will translate into real support when the new council and mayor are sworn into office is a whole other question.
Hopefully Palmer will be able to resist the inevitable pushback from Bos and MacLeod (Not to mention Tina Stewart). He may actually be onto something – a new, more modern, prosperous ADBA which includes the homeless in a joint future devoid of fear, animosity, and anger … sounds positive, pluralistic, confident and welcoming.
Almost as if you wanted people to visit, congregate and shop or something.
Remember to Tell Abnor If you’ve got any news or stories you think he should look into.
If you have any thoughts or ideas for Abnor tell him.
Editor’s Note:Abnor joins us from time to time with a question or two about what he sees around him. He has plenty of time on his hands and he spends a great deal of his time wandering the streets of Abbotsford wondering about what he sees and hears. He’s a modern day hobo with a Blackberry.