By James Breckenridge. In an interview with the CBC Mayor Banman stated “It comes down to financial dollars, resources and expertise. Cities are supposed to look after really exciting things like water and sewer.”
Hmm. Let us set aside questions of what rational – or irrational – words Mayor Banman would use to fit boondoggles such as the Heat, the International Garden, the Great White Elephant, roads where you cannot see the markings, traffic circles with warning signs not to get in beside a transport truck because the poor design means trucks crush any car that makes the mistake of being in the traffic circle with them, etc. into this latest Banmanism.
A well managed city looks after the well being of its citizens and the health of the city. And while water and sewer are part of looking after their citizens, the well-being of citizens and the health of a city extend well beyond infrastructure.
A city is a community of diverse parts and peoples and the health and well-being of a city and its citizens comes from the interaction of all the parts and peoples of a city. Including those with mental health challenges, our large East Indian community, all those who have immigrated to Canada and Abbotsford, including previous and current immigrants to established groups such as the Mennonites, the homeless, business people, the poor, commuters, students …
Mayors and councillors who ignore the reality of the complex nature of a city impoverish their city, not just in terms of finances but also the spirit, the soul of their city.
The City of Abbotsford, its mayors and councillors, have repeatedly used poverty or lack of resources as an excuse for doing nothing effective or competent to address the growing issue of homelessness in Abbotsford.
And when the provincial government, the favourite target for blame and finger pointing, puts funding on the table the city, mayors and councillors, simply move to favourite excuse #2 – wrong location. Or “I am allowed to make an irrational decision” or the utterly nonsensical “We need housing Now, not in two years” given that voting down the rezoning means that in two years time Abbotsford will still hot have any of the needed appropriate housing.
Yet Abbotsford, its mayors and councillors, have all the money and resources they needed to take actions against the homeless which have proven, time after time-after-time, to be ineffective in achieving any beneficial outcomes.
Although just how much the bullying persecution of the homeless by the city and its politicians has cost is unknown because the city refuses to say what it is spending on the insanity of doing the same thing over and over hoping that the results will be different – next time.
One of the many realities that Abbotsford and its politicians choose to ignore is that even from a narrow dollars-and-cents view, it is in the self-interest of citizens to deal with homelessness, substance use, mental illness, hunger, and poverty. In truth, from strictly a dollar-and-cents point of view, the city’s behaviour towards the homeless makes less sense – and is as harmful to the taxpayers pocketbooks – as the $20 million Heat boondoggle.
Any realistic look at the costs incurred in how we deal [more accurately fail to deal] with homelessness at the municipal, provincial and federal levels will show we are wasting $100s of millions, the odd $billion$ or two, adhering to the established practice of recycling people through various aspects of homeless/mental health issues/substance use.
The true poverty, the resource the city lacks, which prevents Abbotsford from effectively addressing homelessness, is not $$$$ but leadership.
Over more than a decade people, organizations, officials from other cities who had experience with the practices that have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing homelessness have come to Abbotsford to share their knowledge, experience and expertise.
And Abbotsford, its mayors and councillors, have ignored them … or taken actions that were the opposite of those advised.
Studies, knowledge, experience, outcomes of best practices designed around the reality of homelessness, mental health and substance use – as opposed actions based on what we have been doing for decades or what the public ‘knows’ …
We know what needs to be done. We know what actions and practices are effective in achieving the results we need to achieve. We know that those communities that have chosen to use the knowledge from research and the outcomes experienced with best practices to address homelessness and its related issues have achieved, and continue to achieve significant reductions in homelessness.
This is not rocket science.
The ‘expertise’ needed is how to Listen.
Not listen as mayors and councillors in Abbotsford do, in one ear and out the other, there being – demonstrably – nothing in between for the information to adhere to.
But Listen, to hear what we don’t want to hear, or would rather not hear, or that is not what we believe or want to believe. Hear the Reality – which does not care what your ideology says is true, what you believe is true or what you want to be true; Reality that does not care what we think, that exists separately from us and simply is what it is.
“It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain