Shameful Exchange On YMCA

By March 7, 2013Letters, Pop Voice

Open Letter to Mayor Banman and Council – This exchange between Neufeld and Butz of the YMCA is shameful.

It is shameful that Walter Neufeld of Abbotsford, has to have this discussion with Steve Butz, an outsider from the YMCA.

This is shameful because you, our city leaders have never asked us, the taxpayers, if we want to fork over a massive $17.5 million of our money to the YMCA.

This is shameful because you gave the go-ahead to the Y to go into our city with their sales pitch, before you, our council have ever given us the straight goods about this proposed give-away of our land, our money, and our future tax dollars. You are trying to do an ‘end-run’ on this huge proposal.

There was never an advance announcement of your intent in any local newspaper. There has never been an information meeting, and the information we have been able to glean has been wildly contradictory. There has never been an official public hearing.

If you mayor Banman – and the councillors who want to join you, as you “kick the can further down the road”, really want to give the Y millions of dollars, then write cheques from your own bank accounts. Do not consign the beleaguered taxpayers of Abbotsford to half the capital costs for this proposed 66,000 square feet YMCA (unknown # of floors), on the old hospital grounds

Do not agree with Fraser Health that they have the right to give away that land to the Y. All monies in Fraser Health comes via public pockets. That land should be sold to pay down the debt on the new P3 hospital on Marshall Road.

Do not promise to give the YMCA a tax-free journey for the anticipated 40 year life of the business, ..(and beyond?)

The Y will compete with all sorts of private enterprises, already here, as well as existing public facilities. The Y wants to horn in on these business providers, charging similar rates, though getting this outrageous head start. Given that they would solicit the work of volunteers, and actively solicit donations, while charging rates comparable to other groups and businesses, no one could compete with this YMCA on a level playing field.

This outfit wants to waltz into town, and be granted the treasures of our city, and you seem bent on giving that to them.

Steve Butz writes, “look forward to engaging with the community in a discussion about why we want to invest $17.5 million in Abbotsford. We respect that Council will have its own process informing their decision relative to the proposed 50% share of capital funding.

How considerate, how kind. Steve and the Y “want to invest $17.5 million in Abbotsford.” If investing in us means taking us to the cleaners, I’d rather the YMCA took it’s investment somewhere else.

Mostly though aren’t you deeply ashamed that the YMCA portrays Abbotsford in such a negative way? We need this organization to come into this loser town because, …..well you know…..our youth are messed up, we’re overweight, there’s nothing meaningful to do here, etc. etc. etc.

If we really need the YMCA to lift our city up from the skids, Patricia Ross, John Smith, Dave Loewen and the rest who support this massive give-away, … then what on earth have you been doing all these years?

Why is our town such a wreck after all the years you’ve been at the helm? Such bad shape that only the kind, loving altruistic ministration of the YMCA can put to rights.

I’ve met many happy, healthy, successful families in the three decades we’ve lived here. Abbotsford is rich in its quality, caring people. Haven’t you met them too?
This is probably the most ridiculous business, yet, to emanate from your council chambers.

Abbotsford is broke. We will need money for ageing and new infrastructure.

You’ve agreed with swimmers who say we need a 50 foot olympic size pool, yet when the Y offers you a little 25 footer,- (in exchange for land worth 4 million, cash of $17.5 million, $l.5 million from our local MLA, and no business taxes levied for 40 years or more), you our council, get all giddy, and act as if the Y is giving us something wonderful.

Wrong! What has bewitched you into encouraging Mr. Butz of the Y to ooze about Abbotsford, with your blessing, with his self-serving sales pitch?

You would enrich an organization that is listed among the top, wealthiest, enterprises in North America, by further impoverishing the city you watch over.

It’s long past time for you, mayor and councillors, to come out of the shadows and give this city the straight goods on your dealings with the YMCA.

Lets get the horse before the cart. Tell the YMCA to go away until you have come to us with facts and figures, and our approval.

Gerda Peachey

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