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. In Part One: The Actions Of Bullies we dealt with the actions of civic leaders Bob Bos, Bruce Beck and John Smith in their attempts to stop Pastor Christoph Reiners from feeding the homeless.
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 an example of economic growth despite all of the mothballed projects dotting the landscape in Abbotsford.
With these issues facing the treasury and the Economic Development Department, Abbotsford has experienced a decade-long decline in economic indicators such as building permit values, housing starts as well as an inability to shake its position as the City with the worst unemployment in Western Canada, all of which has gone unreported in the local chain-owned newspapers.
These facts, together with the enormous and growing drain on the treasury represented by the attendance-challenged Abbotsford Heat and a multi-year contract with Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum to manage its money-losing arena, have created an untenable financial position at City Hall.Faced with the unpalatable consequence of their decisions over the last decade, it can perhaps be understood, that city managers and politicians would focus a great deal of attention on whatever economic growth they could find and do whatever was in their power to help developers who have decided to build in Abbotsford.
The long term plans for the Railway District and Downtown Abbotsford provide a good example of City staff and politicians pulling out all the stops to ensure the success of the project.
The Importance Of The Railway District
Here is David Krahn developer of the new Mill Tower development which sits alongside the Salvation Army on Gladys Avenue, in 2009 talking to the Abbotsford Times about the area of the City from which the homeless were chased by City staff in the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident last week;
“The city partnered very strongly with the developers to give them the approvals and permits because they saw the value developing this area,” he said.“It’s hoped the Mill Tower will act as a bridge from the Sumas Way commercial district to the area in which it sits, newly dubbed as the railway district, and the historic downtown core.”
The article goes on to quote Teichroeb describing the partnership between the City and developers in that area of the City;Here is Mayor Bruce Banman talking to the Abbotsford News April 26, 2013, just weeks before the Homeless Incident occurred, about the importance of that area for the future of Abbotsford and its character;
“The city sees the renovation as a vital catalyst for redeveloping the downtown core, said Jay Teichroeb, City of Abbotsford general manager of economic development.
“Their collaboration is certain to continue.
“Along with the warehouse beside Mill Tower, Cyril Developments also holds properties on its north side, almost to Old Yale Road. According to the city’s master plan for the area, we can expect to see a mixed development of housing and commercial use in the area in the years to come.”
Mayor Bruce Banman spoke at the event, saying the redesign of the historic building is a great example of Abbotsford’s ongoing revitalization. He said the tower is one of the most amazing reuses of a building in Abbotsford.
“It’s exciting to see the changes that took place in this tower… it builds on Abbotsford’s rich character.”
Here is the Mayor in Driving.ca, four days later;
“The city has 137,000** people and is posed (sic) to grow by another 70,000 residents in the next 25 years***, so establishing employment lands is crucial to creating a sustainable economy in the city where people can work and live, said Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman.”
Here’s is the text of a Colliers International real estate ad for Mill Tower;
“Rising majestically above the new Railway District, the five-storey tower has been restored and enhanced with remarkable attention to detail. It is a visionary landmark destined to be the cornerstone for future commercial, industrial, and residential development.”
During the opening of Krahn’s Mill Tower, councillor Dave Loewen was Tweeting images of the building in a promotional frenzy which we can’t remember he or any other councillor devoting themselves to on behalf of any other Abbotsford business [What Do You Think: Should Dave Loewen Be Tweeting About Developers’ Empty Office Space?].
Given the last decade of failure on the economic development front, and some of the major blunders made by the City of Abbotsford, the Railway District appears to have taken on a great deal of importance to the City of Abbotsford and its senior staff and politicians.
*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.
**Either the Mayor or The Times should stop referring to Abbotsford’s population as 137,000. As pointed out in January on Abbotsford Today [An Embarrassing Afternoon For Council], both Councillors Braun and Smith, as well as his own staff, have corrected Banman on this before – Abbotsford’s population, according to recent census data, is 133,000. The 137,000 figure the Mayor is fond of using is fiction. As John Smith has explained to him, at least once at a public meeting, it makes up part of the estimates, created by municipalities, not based in fact, and used to secure funding from the provincial government.
We’ve said it before, but perhaps an inability to accept or deal with reality lies at the bottom of an awful lot problems at Abbotsford City Hall.
***The Mayor made no reference to the source of this prediction. Given the fact that the City of Abbotsford’s population only grew by about 10,000 over the last decade his prediction may be cause for alarm if the City’s forecasts continue to be so out of touch with reality.