By James Breckenridge. A citizen of Abbotsford who had some ideas and questions about dealing with homelessness tracked me to converse. Included in the conversing was Mayor Banman’s apology to the homeless.

I pointed out that saying “Sorry” did nothing but acknowledge the City had harmed the homeless; that a true apology required the mayor and council to change the behaviours and attitudes that led the city to weaponize and deploy chicken feces against the homeless.

Noting that mayors and councils of Abbotsford have a well established history of saying “Oops, Sorry”, tossing around some politically correct statements – then returning to the same behaviours and attitudes that led to the City being forced by media scrutiny to say “Sorry”.

If Mayor Banman and council had any real intent to apologize, the property Abbotsford Community Services wants to use for first stage housing would already be rezoned and construction begun.

Instead we have Mayor Banman’s stated opposition to the ACS proposal and the silence of council on the housing project; a project that would be a positive step in changing behaviour from pointless, to behaviours proven to lead to sobriety, housing and wellness for homeless.

“I think Abbotsford Community Services and the ADBA and residents need to get together in one room and talk about their positions and come to a compromise,” said Banman.

Exactly where does Mayor Banman see room for compromise?

ACS either complies with the terms of their agreement with BC Housing and Abbotsford City Council rezones the property OR Abbotsford does not get needed first stage housing AND loses $millions$ of dollars of funding from the provincial government.

Given mayor and council’s demonstrated lack of backbone on matters that do not involve development or the waste of million’s of taxpayer dollars, why would those among the ADBA and residents who support a mythical and unspecified ‘Right Location’ somewhere, anywhere, Not In Their Back Yard compromise?

The mayor said “smart” developers work with neighbours to address concerns.

Such as happened with the 26 story Mahogany at Mill Lake?

Where the rezoning was voted down, but then snuck back before council (while one of the councillors opposed to the development was out of town) and approved. Interesting definitions Mayor Banman has for “smart” and “working with neighbours”.

“It would make council’s decision a lot easier.”

I see. It is not about reality (there are homeless in Abbotsford) or facts (first stage housing has proven to be a first step to sobriety, housing and wellness) or the needs of the City and its citizens (we need to use what has proven effective elsewhere in addressing homelessness and associated health issues) or ending council’s policy of worsening the problem.

It is about the easy way out. How very………nice for the mayor and council.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said the community division and polarized nature of the debate over the project is counterproductive.

NIMBYism is always divisive, polarizing and counterproductive.

Or at least it is in leadership vacuums such as the one created by the mayor and council’s choice of the path of least resistance, a path abundant with missed opportunities.

If we want outcomes other than the pointless and often negative consequences that flow from council’s willful denial of reality, we have to get out of our comfortable mental ruts, stop doing what we are doing and blaze a trail going where there is no path.

We need to choose the path that leads us where we need to go. Not to where we want to go, but to where we need to go.

Citizens need to instruct Mayor Banman and city council – email, phone call, letter or face-to-face – that enough is enough that it is far past time to put an effective strategy in place and as a first step to rezone the Abbotsford Community Services property – Now.

Citizens also need to instruct mayor and council to adopt a rational strategy for managing the challenges and problems of homelessness until resources are in place and beginning to offset the consequences of years of counterproductive behaviour by mayors and councils.

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