By Abnor. You should have coffee someday over at the little cafeteria on the main floor of City Hall. You have no idea the interesting stuff you’ll overhear.
For those who haven’t been being kept in the loop on this story, here’s the short version I obtained from my sources in the Public Works Yard:
- January 17, 2013 – Fred Thiessen started an organization to fight City Hall over the proposal espoused by then Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Taylor and Mayor Bruce Banman to give the YMCA $17.5 Million plus tax-free status to build a paid-membership fitness club that would compete with the local private business which have stated they can handle lots of new members if the need ever arises.
- January 21, 2013 – Despite recieving no coverage by local newspapers, Fred Thiessen speaks to the Executive Committee of City Council and a large crowd of opponents to the proposal outlining the complaints of a growing number of residents to the project.
Somehow, YMCA president and CEO Stephen Butz manages to get accepted as a delegation to rebut Friessen despite there being no mention of his appearance in the advance agenda nor, it appears, enough time for him to file the paperwork required by the City for anyone to talk to them
Councillor Henry Braun moves that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the YMCA be nullified and the YMCA kept from being able to canvas and promote itself to Abbotsford citizens until the new City Manager, George Murray, has a chance to review the project and determine the best course of action for the City.
Braun’s motion is voted down.
- March 28, 2013 – Stephen Butz writes a letter to George Murray which, according to Mayor Banman’s later account, states that, due to Parks and Rec Director Mark Taylor’s untimely and tragic death the YMCA was postponing indefinitely its plans to come to Abbotsford and moving on to other priorities.
- April 2, 2013 – Banman approves Thiessen’s request to appear as a delegation and speak to Council on the proposal a second time.
- April 4, 2013 – The Abbotsford News announces that Fred Thiessen has started up an organization to fight the YMCA proposal – three months after he started it (see number 1 above).
- April 8, 2013Ten minutes before the Executive Committee of Council’s meeting at 3:00 pm Banman informs councillors of the March 28th letter from Butz.
Banman, who appears to be reading from the Butz letter, tells Council, Thiessen and the public that the YMCA, due to Mark Taylor’s death, has decided to postpone indefinitely the Abbotsford project. When Thiessen asks him if that means the MOU is dead, Banman demurs and suggests the City of Abbotsford stop talking publicly about the project.
How did he have time to put together and circulate a notice of motion to his fellow councillors, have them vote on it and approve it for a later council meeting and then bring it back to council if, like the rest of council he only saw the letter that afternoon?
- April 11, 2013 – Abbotsford Today publishes the full text of Thiessen’s address which neither council nor the public ever heard.
- April 17, 2013 – Abbotsford Today obtains and publishes a copy of Stephen Butz’s letter which is substantially at odds with Mayor Banman’s account at the April 8 council meeting. Butz’s letter makes it clear the YMCA intends to pick up the project in the near future and never uses the phrase ‘postpone indefinitely’.
- April 18, 2013 – The Abbotsford News publishes a letter, dated April 11, from City Manager George Murray to Stephen Butz saying that the City of Abbotsford “has agreed to indefinitely postpone [italics ours] the proposed partnership” and goes on to state that the MOU is not a legally binding document.
Two very big questions being asked around the Public Works Yard (and whispered about in the City Hall cafeteria):
Did staff “invite” Stephen Butz to rebut Fred Thiessen’s address to the Executive Committee meeting on January 21 without having to go through the hoops that every other citizen does of providing a written version of his presentation to the City Clerk two weeks before being approved as a delegation?
Did John Smith have help drafting his notice of motion and somehow getting it approved at the previous (March 25) council meeting in response to the letter Stephen Butz didn’t even write until March 28th, without having it entered in the minutes, so that he could make his motion (April 8) without council ever having agreed to it?
So many questions … so few whispering in Abnor’s ears 🙁
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.