By Mike Archer. It was billed as an opportunity for public consultation on the already completed Draft Economic Development Strategy And Action Plan – The Mayor’s Task Force on the Economy.
The public and the media were invited to provide their input because, as both the press release and one of the storyboards on display said, “The City of Abbotsford holds to the view that healthy, sustainable economic growth can be facilitated and supported by sound planning and policy, by engaging with and listening to the community as a whole and by creating an inviting business climate.” [italics ours]
The foyer of the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium was set aside and the decked out with some juice and Rice Krispie Squares for the occasion.
There were nine story boards with a total of 16 sentences spread across them and copies of the City’s U-District project plan, an Abbotsford News advertising supplement called My City and a City of Abbotsford publication called Prime Position which starts out with a lie on its front page:
“Considering that a big part of Abbotsford’s appeal is its reputation as a ‘city in the country’, and add to this an anticipated growth from the current 140,000 residents to over 200,000 in the next several years and it’s easy to see that policy makers have their work cut out for them,” says the magazine paid for by Abbotsford’s 133,000 current residents.
Work cut out for them indeed for when one of the attendees was rude enough to ask where the Mayor’s report was, task force member and 2012 council candidate Doris Woodman-McMillan volunteered that someone noticed the report was full of typos so it wasn’t made available for the public to read before providing their input.
All in all it was a classic start and finish to a City of Abbotsford attempt at engaging with and listening to the community.
For those who were smart enough to gamble that it would be a wasted evening, here are some samples of the platitudes arrived at by the people who are mostly responsible for destroying the financial health of the City of Abbotsford in the first place in order to placate their worried taxpayers:
Building on Abbotsford’s Unique Foundations
– Supporting Agriculture
Abbotsford has a very unique and comprehensive asset map. It is incumbent on the City to identify these assets and to capitalize on the synergistic opportunities that emerge.
Facilitating Business Retention and Expansion
The importance of nurturing and building upon existing economic base.
Attracting New Business and Investment to Abbotsford
The City must consider the ways in which it will engage the regional, national and international business and investment community …
I’m sorry. I can’t go on …
There are high school students who would be too embarrassed to present such gibberish to their classmates, much less submit it to be marked.
This is astonishingly puerile, childish and idiotic drivel and to waste the public’s time and taxpayer funds presenting it at a public event on which input is supposed to based is something that ought to embarrass any civil servant or politician who had anything to do with the evening or the 12-page hastily photocopied and poorly stapled document that was handed out.
The Abbotsford News’ advertising supplement was the only vaguely interesting document on display.
As pointed out in a post earlier this week here are the realities of Abbotsford’s financial situation which the people and organizations which make up most of the Mayor’s task force have been responsible for creating over the last decade:
- Highest taxes in the Fraser Valley
- Highest DCCs in the Fraser Valley
- DCC fund millions of dollars in arrears
- Lowest economic growth in the Fraser Valley
- Worst Parks & Rec programs in the Fraser Valley
- Worst infrastructure in the Fraser Valley
- Worst unemployment in the Fraser Valley
- Lowest housing starts in the Fraser Valley
- Glut of housing approved developments amid plummeting real estate sales
- A glut of housing and approved developments amid plummeting real estate sales
- Population stalled at 133,000 as opposed to the 140,000+ on which City Hall based all of its projections
What continues to amaze most of those who watch this City’s council and administration is that none of the above list were dealt with anywhere in the task force summary. Nowhere was the Abbotsford Heat contract mentioned nor the millions owed to our DCC fund. These are very real, very troubling and difficult economic issues we face – created by some of the people who were tasked with developing a vision for our economy.
How can they expect to be taken seriously?
Oh … and the City really has to stop lying about our population. As an embarrassed Mayor Banman learned at a public meeting last month, the latest Canadian census puts our population at 133,000 – not 140,000 and nowhere near 200,000.
Since it was two City councilors and a senior staff member who corrected him, isn’t it time staff started telling the truth in its publications.
After all, if someone makes the mistake of investing their hard-earned money in Abbotsford based on some of the fabrications being bandied about by City Hall they would be right to feel they need to keep a close eye on just what goes on at the Economic Development Department.
Maybe that’s why all the developers whose buildings are still sitting undeveloped and unsold sat on the Mayor’s Task Force.
Can’t wait ‘til the real report comes out. If it has taken a year just to get the typos out, the edited version should be a real page turner.