The words politicians and other civic and community leaders use are important reminders to citizens about where they stand on issues and why they vote or act the way they do.
Editor’s note: This column was originally published Feb 22, 2014. Due to the historic nature of the political blunder of these four men in terms of representing the wishes of the community, we will be re-publishing this column occasionally in the run up to the November municipal election.
Sometimes their words reveal deeply held beliefs that explain their public positions. Sometimes they reveal deeply held beliefs than run contrary to their public positions.
Sometimes they reveal deeply flawed individuals with an inability to think clearly or make sense of the often complex issues of governance required of community leaders.
In what is perhaps the most controversial issue in Abbotsfgord politics since John Smith and Bruce Beck delivered the massive, multi-generational failure which is Plan A, or George Peary’s Deal with the Calgary Flames, Bruce Banman’s Abbotsford Homeless Crisis has united citizens in an unprecedented manner.
Some of the statements by Banman and his councillors reveal some basic flaws in the thinking and the workings of municipal governance in Abbotsford.
“This issue has divided the community in two … on both sides.” – CBC Radio, Feb 19, 2014
‘The provincial government has to come to the table. We need the participation of service providers, community organizations, churches and businesses to solve homelessness.’ Public Hearing, Oct 9, 2013
“It matters not where they are tended but that they are tended.” – Public Hearing, Feb 17, 2014
“Their fears may be irrational but that doesn’t matter.” Public Hearing, Feb 17, 2014
“In a previous existence I was a banker.” Public Hearing, Feb 17, 2014
“I met two homeless people at a fundraiser and they told me housing is not what they need.” Public Hearing, Feb 17, 2014
Abbotsford’s Crony Capitalism
Yes Abbotsford – these are the men who turned down $15.3 million over 60 years for the smallest low barrier supportive housing project in the history of BC Housing.
Listing only to a very narrow group of small business interests within the ADBA and the Chamber of Commerce, and, perhaps to pay off political promises made, they ignored the overwhelming voice of the community in support of taking a first step on the long road to dealing with the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis.
Against the wishes of two thirds of those who turned out and spoke at the final public hearing on the proposal on February 3rd; against the wishes of the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Netwowrk (ACLN) representing some 90 percent of Christian church goers in Abbotsford; and, against the pleas of the Abbotsford Community Foundation and VanCity, each of which promised an additional $125,000 in support of the project, these four men defeated what the community had hoped would be our start towards a solution to the, ugliest, most embarrassing and revolting result of the inward-looking, crony capitalism which has dictated our public policy since the ADBA and the Chamber of Commerce took over the reigns of power at City Hall.
In any political jurisdiction the business community has an important role to play in letting legislators know how their ability to survive and thrive will be affected by public policy. Ever since Bruce Beck and John Smith allied with the Chamber of Commerce to push through Plan A, and ever since George Peary joined forces with the Chamber to try to convince citizens we needed a $300,000,000 new water supply (when he knew we didn’t) the Chamber of Commerce and the executive of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) seem to have been given the keys to executive washroom at City Hall.
It has been a disaster for public policy in Abbotsford.
In perhaps the crassest and most cynical example of political crony capitalism, these four men seem to have chosen what they saw as their own self interest, and the need to reward and/or live up to political promises made over the what the vast majority of those in the community who have spoken out have told them was for the good of the community.
From what we’ve heard, all four of them have the gall to be running again for a position at the public trough in November’s municipal election.
Good luck gentlemen. You’ll need it.
Originally published Feb 22, 2014