Implausible Deniability (Part One)

By June 19, 2013Hot Topic, Mike Archer

By Mike Archer. Through everything we have witnessed and all that has been published on this topic it appears quite clear that the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident was not an isolated incident conducted by a few “low level authorities.”

It simply doesn’t pass the reasonable person* test.

Downtown developer Bob Bos.. Photo from BC

Downtown developer Bob Bos.. Photo from BC

Part One: The Actions Of Bullies

While the antipathy between the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) and the homeless was well established during former president and major downtown landowner Bob Bos’ term at the helm, perhaps no single event better epitomized Bos’ opinion of the homeless than his attempt in 2008, together with the help of Councillors Bruce Beck and John Smith, to stop Pastor Christoph Reiners from feeding the poor.

What a disreputable, dishonorable and disgusting thing to do. And yet, they all kept their jobs as members of the political and business elite who make decisions and policies on behalf of their friends and neighbours.

They even get to continue to influence and decide how they are going to spend their friends’ and neighbours’ money.

It was the first national or international black eye Abbotsford received but, as events would prove, far from the last.

Bruce Beck and John Smith were also the two most ardent pitchmen for Plan A around the council table – our next big embarrassment. The two men were the primary reasons behind the decision to borrow millions, and commit hundreds of millions more, to the failed experiment with taxpayers’ money which the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) and Abbotsford’s taxpayer–supported hockey team, The Abbotsford Heat have become.

Rather than listen, negotiate or even incorporate some of the concerns of the citizens who pay their salaries, senior administrators and politicians thumbed their noses at voters and proudly drove city finances into the ditch.

Former Councillor, Plan A architect, and Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Beck

Former Councillor, Plan A architect, and Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Beck

Councillor and Plan A co-architect John Smith

Councillor and Plan A co-architect John Smith

The main reason Abbotsford suffers from such an infrastructure deficit is that the City of Abbotsford has had to put a growing portion of its tax revenue into covering the costs of Smith’s and Beck’s dreams and vanity projects with no funds left over for the real work of City government – water, sewer, roads.

As a result, Abbotsford has some of the worst water and sewer pipes in the Lower Mainland and, in addition to forcing the Abbotsford Fire Department to use extra pressure trucks whenever they respond to fires in the Clearbrook area, some Vancouver construction companies have simply stopped bidding on Abbotsford projects because they cannot hook modern water and sewer pipes up to Abbotsford’s antiquated system.

The City has some of the highest taxes, water rates and municipal fees in the Lower Mainland and one of the worst set of social problems from high levels of Hep C and HIV to a seemingly intractable homeless problem.

Economic Indicators have been dropping steadily for a decade and the City has had to resort to internal borrowing just to pay the bills. During that decline developers and development itself have taken on a more and more important role in Abbotsford politics as it seems all the stops have been pulled out to get some sort of meaningful development going despite all the hurdles the City has put in its own path.

In Part Two we deal with the decade of economic decline precipitated by the policies and decisions of Beck, Smith and the Economic Development Department under Jay Teichroeb. Then we look at the growing importance of the Railway District as officials look for any sort of example of economic growth to showcase despite all of the mothballed projects dotting the landscape in Abbotsford and all of the bad economic news that has scared most developers away.

*The Reasonable Person. As a legal fiction,[ the “reasonable person” is not an average person or a typical person. Instead, the “reasonable person” is a composite of a relevant community’s judgment as to how a typical member of said community should behave in situations that might pose a threat of harm (through action or inaction) to the public.

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