Paul MacLeod On ACS Proposal

By February 12, 2014Letters

By Paul MacLeod. The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) has been opposed to the location of the proposed ACS housing project since day one.
No, we are not afraid of the homeless, nor do we hate them or believe that anyone has the right to harass or abuse them. They are part of our community and together, we all need to give them a helping hand.

The ADBA is not made up of developers or multiple property owners exclusively, the majority of our membership is small businesses that employ 1 to 5 people. The ACS has a budget of 20 million dollars a year and the BC Housing budget for 2012 was 796.6 million dollars. Who is bullying who?

The bylaws that we are so eagerly trying to protect are the reason that the Historic Downtown has changed from a decaying city center to a vibrant area that is now a great place to shop and work. Many landlords, at great cost to themselves, could not rent their buildings to businesses that were disqualified by the bylaws. Prospective developers could not get approval to build projects that did not meet the bylaw commitments of the C7.

The City of Abbotsford is made up of 375 square kilometers and the C7 zone is only 4 square kilometers. Surely we can find a location for this housing project that does not have bylaws that exclude housing projects. The small entrepreneurs of the ADBA don’t receive or have they ever received grants from the civic or provincial governments, yet they pay the highest property taxes in the City of Abbotsford. Let’s not forget that it’s the tax payers that fund the social services that help our needy. Let’s not cripple the businesses and tax payers that make our community service work.

If this project goes through, it will set a precedent that will allow anything to be built in our downtown. At the Public Hearing on February 3rd, we heard many great stories from around the province about lives being changed by great organizations like ACS, and we applaud these organizations for what they do. We did not hear any specific reason from ACS or BC Housing justifying this particular housing project’s proposed location in Downtown Abbotsford, other than it is more convenient for ACS staff and that they have a government grant to build the project.

The Mayor and Council have to decide to allow or not allow this project to go forward at this location. If they make the decision to discard their agreement with the ADBA because of the convenience and the money for this project, what kind of a message will that send out to the world around us? If you come to Abbotsford with money and a convenient idea, we will discard our prior agreements and commitments and allow anything to be built.

At the public hearing, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Mike Welte, said that in the event that the housing project finds a site outside of the C7, he will come on board and help build it, as would the ADBA.

We have the unique position of having three MLA’s that represent our community and the government of the day, a city hall that understands we need to help the homeless and many churches and community organizations that would come on board. Let’s not let this issue divide our city any longer. Let us find a suitable location, raise funds and work together to build this home; after all, we are all trying to make a better Abbotsford.
Paul MacLeod signature

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Walter Neufeld says:

    Dear Mr. MacLeod:

    If, as you say, the ADBA is not afraid of the homeless, doesn’t hate them or, “… believe that anyone has the right to harass or abuse them…” because they’re also “…part of our community, and together, we all need to give them a helping hand”, then why has the ADBA supported their harassment by the City for the past ten years?

    Why did ADBA support the unaffordable 70 million dollar taxpayer subsidy for the YMCA’s unneeded building program?

    Why has the ADBA failed to initiated any workable proposals to address homelessness in the 10 year interim?

    Finally, why is it trying to scupper the first fully funded, viable proposal, that’s administered by Abbotsford’s venerable ACS? No local taxpayer money required (unlike the YMCA proposal).

    You say ADBA is supportive, but there’s no proof.

    Promising to be there with shovels to build a shelter anywhere else but where it’s currently proposed appears insincere but it also sounds a lot like calculated attempt kill off the fully funded current proposal. Your “whimsical” support is based on the building being built anywhere outside the C7 zone, and, with an expectation that Abbotsford’s taxpayers would pay 100% of the costs, right?

    It seems clear that ADBA’s logic needs the guidance of the broader community and most reasonable folks who attended Monday’s Public Meeting think ACS’ proposal is a good one for sound humanitarian and fiscal reasons.

    The ADBA will help salvage its tarnished image when it begins to show that it “get’s it” by supporting ACS’ proposal as it is, where it is.

    Think about it. We are shoppers with long memories.


    Walter Neufeld

  • The Editor says:

    Gerry Hiebert Says:

    A well reasoned and articulate letter, well done Mr MacLeod! Refreshing from ABDA. The problem I foresee is that the land in question is being donated by ACS and in the time it takes to find, finance, and procure another property (in someone else backyard), the BC funding would most likely disappear. Does someone have some property in a more appropriate location they are willing to trade posthaste?

    From facebook:

  • Deceit in Drugs says:

    Paul MacLeod is making a legitimate plea not to have low barrier
    housing in the BIS area.

    It is concerning that BC Housing, City of Abbotsford and Abbotsford
    Community Services did not bring the ADBA on board from the beginning.

    The City of Abbotsford knew very well that the C7 zoned area would not welcome this low barrier housing, given it’s past history of denying such a facility in 2003 and requests for assistance in revitalizing the area.

    What on earth were they thinking?

    The bottom line: ASDAC, the city committee formed to address the cities’ “most pressing needs” chaired by John Smith from 2006-2009 failed to bring to council a proposal to buy land suitable for low barrier housing.

    In addition, the City of Abbotsford permitted the location of a social service provider right in an area zoned industrial/commercial.

    Once again, the provincial government came to the city with a proposal to build a low barrier housing unit, yet the city had no land allocated for the project.

    Once again, the city jumped the gun moving ahead with the ACS proposal, because of the promises of available land owned by the ACS, which was key to making such a project happen.

    End result, the city is now backed itself into a corner.

    The ADBA/Chamber of Commerce has rallied the business community against the project, it has caused a divide between ACS and business community, it has put BC Housing into an uncertain position and the homeless and addicted are sitting on the sidelines, their lives left hanging in thehands of Abbotsford Council.

  • Bas Stevens says:

    Paul MacLeod has written a very articulate letter, however, it is too little, too late, in my opinion.

    I endorse everything that Walter Neufeld has said in his letter. The ADBA has had the opportunity to do something for the homeless for a long, long time and, what have they done? ZERO!

    John Smith and Bill McGregor, both city councilors of long standing, were both aware of this project from the beginning. Both were aware that a change in the C7 zoning would be required for the project to proceed. What did both of them do! NOTHING!

    John Smith and Bill McGregor are responsible for this “mess” that they have put the City of Abbotsford in. They were derelict in their duties, as elected representatives of the people of Abbotsford, and as such, must recuse themselves from voting on Monday, February 17th, 2014 on the bylaw amendment. Not only were they derelict in their duties, they are also in a conflict of interest.

    I sincerely hope that others see my point and encourage, if not demand, that John Smith and Bill McGregor recuse themselves from voting on Monday. Gentlemen, do the right thing! Gentlemen, do the honorable thing! Recuse yourselves!

    Thank you.

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