UPDATED 10/24/2014 – As the November 15 municipal election nears, some issues are beginning to emerge. The first one to have gained any significant traction, other than a strong desire to replace incumbents, is the issue of the City’s treatment of the homeless.
At the first of two all candidates meetings sponsored by several of Abbotsford’s non-profit organizations, 28 of the candidates did show up and answered questions, most of them ‘Yes’ or ‘Non’ questions, dealing with homelessness and the ACS/BC Housing supported housing project which Banman stepped in to kill in a narrow 4-3 vote last winter.
Candidates were asked how they would have voted, or, in the case of incumbents, how they had voted on the proposal. Councillor Moe Gill made a mistake and said he had voted against the proposal but was reminded by Councillor MacGregor that he had, in fact, voted for it.
Many people in the packed audience at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium wore the symbolic green scarves worn by those in favour of the ACS/BC Housing proposal during the fateful council meeting when Banman deep-sixed the project.
The event was organized collectively by Abbotsford Community Services, Abbotsford Community Foundation, Abbotsford Arts Council, MSA Museum Society, The Reach Gallery Museum, The Fraser Valley Conservancy, The Women’s Resource Society and The United Way Fraser Valley, and was designed to focus on three key areas: arts & culture, the environment, and social services.
The majority of the evening was taken up with discussions about the ACS/BC Housing proposal though Fred Hoekstra did ask Vince Dimanno about his presidency of the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association. Dimanno has said that though the ARA was dissolved as a society due to a lack of members who were prepared to step forward to be directors. The association exists to this day.
Dimanno has also said that, under the constitution of the association, if he is elected Nov 15, he will step down. He went on to discuss the AbbotsfordFIRST group of candidates and the reason they believe they can bring effective leadership to Abbotsford council.
The second of the two all-candidates meetings organized by the non-profits will be held on Thursday at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and proceedings beginning at 7:00 pm.
Drug War Survivors Meeting
Earlier in the day, between 3:00 and 4:00 PM, another meeting was held to which seven candidates showed up – the first of two all-candidates meetings at the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors in the Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) building. About 80 members of the DWS were in attendance.
The DWS sent out an invitation and a series of six questions to all candidates last week to attend either the organization’s Oct 21 general meeting or the Nov 4 meeting. Seven attended Tuesday’s meeting and, according to DWS founder Barry Shantz, it was a lively meeting with a great deal of interesting discussions.
Shantz says he warned candidates Ward Draper and Paul Redekopp, who didn’t fill out or return the DWS questionnaire, that failure to do so means they will not be receiving the DWS’ support and that all candidates have until the DWS’ November 4 meeting to fill out the questionnaires.
A number of candidates who were unable to attend the DWS’ Oct 21 meeting have indicated they intend to be at the Nov 4 meeting.
Also in attendance at the meeting were attorney DJ Larkin of the Pivot Legal Society which is representing the DWS and Abbotsford’s homeless in the BC Supreme Court and at the BC Human Rights Tribunal, and Ann Livingston of the Vancouver Area Network of Drugs Users (VANDU).
Candidates and the DWS membership were briefed on the law suits and the importance of the court actions in establishing that bylaws cannot be used by politicians to fight other issues nor can they be allowed to supercede established law or constitutional law. Several organizations from Toronto to Washington to Nepal are watching the Abbotsford case very closely the group was told.
The DWS plans to release the results of their deliberations once the remainder of the candidates who intend to show up to their meeting on Nov 4 have had a chance to answer their questions and speak to their members.
16:36, 10/22/2014 – Editor’s note: When this story was first published it was published under a headline saying that Mayor Bruce Banman was a ‘No Show’ at the two meetings. We have since been informed that the non-profit sponsored meeting was only for council candidates – not for mayoralty candidates. We apology to Mayor Banman for our error. We look forward to covering his appearance at Thursday’s Mayoralty debate.
Edited 10/24/2014 – We erroneously reported that Gerda Peachey had asked Vince Dimanno about the ARA. It was , in fact, Fred Hoekstra. We apologize to Mr Hoekstra for confusing him with Mrs. Peachey.