Open Letter To Opponents Of Low-Barrier Housing Proposal

By March 10, 2014Pop Voice

Dear Mayor Banman, councillors MacGregor, Smith & Barkman,

The City of Abbotsford had before it a win-win low barrier housing proposal, ready for approval in early February. It was the full package, complete with 15 million dollars in provincial funding, a piece of property picked in conjunction with City assent, ready to build for 20 homeless men and administered by our very own Community Services. All that work, all that time and all that money was spent putting together ACS’ plan, at the City’s request and with the City’s assent, only to have the City withdraw support at the eleventh hour.

The City’s flip-flop by Mayor Banman, MacGregor, Smith & Barkman scuppered the only viable win-win plan on the table. There was/is no other alternative when they aborted that plan. Our community & its homeless community lost out as a result. It is hard to understand how that upholds claims that this is about, “…EVERY member of the Community, with respect to housing and care and I do not at any time want to see winners and losers in this equation!” Although there are now claims by opposed councillors that they hope to find a win-win for all, the defeated ACS’ proposal threatens to harm the very people they now claim to want to help and also harms the very people who have been support them. That devastating defeat of ACS’ proposal has done the exact opposite of the now claimed intent.

In spite of those grievous losses, the mayor and opposed councillors now prefer to talk about achieving a win-win for a non-existent proposal, non-existent funding, non-existent timelines, non-existent property and a non-existent operations administrator. The only winners in this so-called win-win version are the ADBA’s unsubstantiated fears.

All the relevant published facts support ACS proposal while belying the ADBA’s unsubstantiated fears. C7 zoning is not a contractual agreement, never was, never will be. All the evidence from neighbouring communities report that facilities like the one proposed by ACS make matters better for all, not worse (as was speculated by the ADBA).

The illusory win-win that mayor and opposed council now talk about does not in any way tend the homeless but it is an affront to them and all the good people who have tended them all these years.

The recent “Rally for the Homeless” at City Hall underlines how disturbed a growing number of people in Abbotsford have become. They’ve chosen to become involved as agents of positive change. I fear that the mayor Banman and some objecting councillors’ may have misread the Rally’s goodwill commitment. It is outrage at the City’s vote against the only viable solution for Abbotsford’s homeless that inspired them, but their commitment to tend the homeless, in-spite-of the outrage, is now the focus that sustains/drives them to seek solutions.

The City has gambled with the lives of the homeless when it rejected ACS’ ready-to-go, funded proposal.

What happens now if the City fails to come up with a better, actionable proposal soon?

I am urging the mayor and opposed councillors to join the councillors who supported ACS’ proposal & consider voting with them tonight to reverse their decision to oppose for the sake of Abbotsford’s homeless community and for the sake of our community’s greater good.

I believe we can do better.

Walter Neufeld

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