By Mike Archer. So let me get this straight. According to Bob Bos and ‘No Permit Paul’ MacLeod of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA), and Mayor Bruce Banman, it was the small ‘Mom and Pop’ business owners of the downtown core they were defending when they turned down the $15.3 million from BC Housing to build Abbotsford Community Services’ (ACS) supportive housing project.
It was those poor small business owners all along Essendene and Montrose in the core of the old downtown they were concerned about and not the larger wealthy landowners near the proposed site across from ACS – 2547 Montvue is owned by Paul MacLeod, Larry Wiebe, Robert Wiebe and Marvin Wiebe.
When Councillors Henry Braun and Dave Loewen expressed concern over an attempt by MacLeod and the ADBA to slip in a different site for the project which would be even closer to all the ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses, MacLeod told Abbotsford Today the land he and his friends own had nothing to do with his objection to the ACS/BC Housing proposal.
“My objection was based on the C7 Zoning which I maintain was a promise made by the City to the business owners of the ADBA. So long as the project was outside of the C7 Zoning I and the ADBA would probably have supported it. I didn’t believe we could allow the precedent to be set by breaking that promise,” he said.
Now it turns out that, while Braun and Loewen had their facts wrong – the property in question is outside of the C7 zoning – they were right about the proximity of the property to the people Bos, MacLeod and Banman claimed to be protecting – the downtown merchants. This property, apparently sanctioned by ‘No permit Paul’ and the ADBA, is about as far as you can get from the landowners with which MacLeod is affiliated and forces residents to walk all the way through downtown Abbotsford and up the hill to get the the services they require up at ACS.
It’s also an awful lot closer to the ‘Mom and Pop’ businesses they claimed to be so concerned about.
Was this enormous upheaval and painful episode in our community’s history just about protecting a few wealthy people’s investments at the expense of some small ‘Mom and Pop’ business owners’ life savings?
If it was all about the C7 zoning why were all of the small business owners from the downtown core trotted out at the public hearings and asked to tell their stories of woe?
Will the arguments being made about the damage such a proposal would do to small downtown business owners not be even more true if the location of the project is moved closer to them?
A proposal by Chad Brechin of Integrity Design and the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors (DWS) to set aside some uselss municipal land, outside of the C7 zoning for their members was presented to the City almost a year ago. That proposal has been sitting gathering dust ever since it was described as ‘refreshing and eminently doable” by City officials.
How is it that ‘No Permit Paul’s’ proposal gets green-lighted and fast tracked, just like his Abbotsford Dignitarian proposal to ship the non-addicted homeless people out of downtown and down to Valley Road while other proposals languish?
Does someone have the inside track at City Hall or is the fact that there is an election coming just have everybody confused and disorganized so that some proposals are on the front burner and others are left to be ignored?
It will be interesting to see if the poor ‘Mom and Pop’ downtown merchants come out to protest ‘No Permit Paul’s’ latest proposal to save them from the homeless.
The appearance of conflict of interest and the possibility that non-elected people are running the show in Banman’s administration should force this whole scenario out into the open where those who are paying for it all can get a good look at it.
It is much too close to an election to be rushing through proposals the community deserves to know an awful lot more about.
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Editor’s Note: We didn’t come up with the moniker ‘No Permit Paul.’ Paul MacLeod has made no secret of the fact staff at City Hall have called him that for years.