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.

Bruce 1

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.

Bruce 2

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.

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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.

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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

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  • Deceit in Drugs says:

    Mayor Banman says, “it comes down to financial dollars, resources and

    Addressing the homeless problem does come down to dollars, resources and expertise.”

    Abbotsford has had eight years to address the financial portion
    of addressing homeless and if one reads the minutes of ASDAC
    meetings, repeat reference to financial need was made, yet what
    have Mayor and Council who have been in office since 2006 done
    to obtain funding via federal and provincial government?

    The fact of the matter, select councillors inc, Bruce Beck &John Smith, who was ASDAC chair from 2006-2010 have been trying to help select
    developers/investors in Historic Downtown get the homeless out
    of that part of the city via several “police Blitz” arranged via
    City Hall.

    Eight years later, the people continue to make their way back to where the services are.

    Residents in and around the Sally Ann’s warned about the risks of drugs and crime with the location of the Salvation Army on Galdys but City hall had just voted down a bed recovery centre and 12
    bed shelter…they wanted save themselves from having egg on their face…so they rushed into approving the location for the Salvation Army.

    Unfortunately, it did not take long, when developers/investors in the
    area complained about the homeless/drugs/crime as threat to their investments and the phone calls were straight to the Mayor’s office to get something done about it.

    Here, we are, eight years alter, and they are still locating along
    Gladys Ave. in campsites near the services.

    The city would have had the time to obtain financial support via
    the federal and provincial govt., but, they thought it would be
    easier to just try to get rid of them, including using chicken manure.

    As for resources and expertise, the city has resources and expertise
    but the city under the direction of chair of ASDAC, John Smith failed to
    stress to council about the need for the city to buy land suitable for low barrier housing in the city.

    They jumped on the BC Housing project plan, due to the fact ACS
    would be providing the land for the project and then, bailed out at the last minute, leaving the homeless, BC Housing in the lurch.

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