The Costs Of Vanity

By November 2, 2013Hot Topic, Mike Archer

By Mike Archer. People in the power structure of Abbotsford don’t like having their mistakes, ineptitudes, lack of understanding of their jobs or their inability to do them pointed out.

And so; organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, which prides itself in its influence over the political process and it’s ability to look after the interests of its members, or Global Spectrum which has sucked millions out of taxpayers pockets in order to preside over a slow but steady reduction in the money being lost at the Abbotsford Entertainment Centre (AESC), or individuals like John Smith (the former banker … remember) or Bruce Beck (the financial wizard … remember) tend to think we should move away from the mistakes of the past and focus on the future.

Wonder why …

The Chamber of Commerce has supported or actively promoted the wrong side of every issue in the last decade which has put financial pressure on taxpayers in general and their members in particular. They don’t like it when we point it out but the leadership of the Chamber has played an absolutely key role in destruction of economic growth in the City of Abbotsford.


Here’s a tidbit from Dec 4 , 2007. Just listen to the deep understanding of economics and the brilliant explanation of what the future would look like if we only followed their advice and let them sink us into hundreds of millions of dollars of debt and commitments that would limit our ability to do anything except pay their bills for decades.

Former Councillor, and Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Beck

Former Councillor, and Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Beck

“While the hockey franchise is the big draw for some, it will be a bonus said, [Parks and Rec Director Mark] Taylor and Counc. Bruce Beck.

“The more lucrative draw will be the events year round, so that taxpayers won’t have to subsidize the place”, said Beck.

“That’s what sold the Chamber of Commerce on supporting the arena project”, said chamber executive director David D. Hull.”

Six years later, the taxpayers of Abbotsford are still throwing away roughly $10 million a year to keep an empty arena open and finance an excellent (on the ice) hockey team which can’t seem to get more than 2,300 fans out to home games despite the fact Abbotsford, according to those who spent all our money, is ostensibly ‘a hockey mad town.’

[I know … I know … the reason people don’t go to hockey games in Abbotsford is because there’s a website which is critical of politicians and business leaders. It’s the sad story in many a hockey mad town where sports fans pay so much attention to political websites they stay away from their favourite sport in droves]

A Pig In A Poke

Councillor (former banker) John Smith

Councillor (former banker) John Smith

The fact these sales pitches from people who clearly didn’t have a clue what they were talking about, were dutifully reported like gospel by local newspapers which seemed to have no interest whatsoever in finding out if anything they were being told was true, is one of the main issues facing this community as it looks towards a post Plan A future.

Think about it – the newspapers were well aware of the very strong, documented and widespread objections to the projects they supported based on solid evidence and presented repeatedly and tirelessly at every public meeting on the subject over a three to five year period.

They didn’t seem to find it very interesting. Certainly not interesting enough to share much of it with their readers – those who used to rely on what they read in the paper in order to make up their minds on important political issues.

What are they not explaining to you these days?

How can these failed and moribund organizations and individuals be expected to lead us out of the financial mess they themselves created?

Pretending It Will Eventually Get Better Is No Solution

Former Mayor George Peary

Former Mayor George Peary

The Abbotsford Ratepayers Association (ARA) and its president and co-owner of Abbotsford Today, Vince Dimanno, have been saying, ever since the AESC was finished – late and over budget – that the City should keep it closed until we could make a deal with an anchor tenant that is good for the taxpayers of Abbotsford.

That advice is still valid.

The seemingly never ending bad deal we’ve got is indefensible.

George Peary’s Deal whereby he signed his friends and neighbours up to financially guarantee the profits of the Calgary Flames and a few well-healed local owners, is still, nonetheless, being defended by Mayor Banman who has said that the cost of cancelling Peary’s Deal would be so expensive that people should stop whining about the cost and just fork over some more money and go to the games.

Mayor  Banman

Mayor Banman

That’s crap and anybody who has successfully run a business knows it. As long as the Heat owners and Global Spectrum get $10 million a year from the taxpayers for losing money and Banman refuses to stand up for taxpayers we will simply keep throwing money away because … if people who didn’t know what they were doing should be forced to admit it in public – it might affect their chances at re-election.

It could prove more expensive to defend Peary’s decision in court, both financially and politically, when those who believe he and the City broke the law finally make their inevitable trip to the courthouse.

Give notice to the owners of the Heat that the taxpayers of Abbotsford will no longer subsidize their profitable business and let them sue us. What the hell, the City has so many law suits piling up against it what’s one more.

Fire Global Spectrum (with the inevitable extra ‘Thank You’ which must be in their contract) and stop the newspapers from crowing about all the famous people like Alice Cooper and Reba McIntire who partially fill the arena every few months.

Cutting Of Our Nose To Spite Our Face

City Manager George Murray

City Manager George Murray

City Manager George Murray has made a start at bringing costs under control by gutting the city administration in order to pay for George Peary’s Deal. But that isn’t progress. That’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is not a viable long term plan for a city which hopes someday to foster economic growth to downsize its government in order to pay for the stupid decisions of the past?

  1. End George Peary’s Deal
  2. Cancel the Heat contract
  3. Cancel Global Spectrum’s contract
  4. Close the AESC

Continue to pay off the accumulated debt we have been forced to swallow and let’s move on using the $10 million a year in costs for the above four budget items to build the city we stopped building back in 2006 because of Plan A.

Pretending there is nothing we can do about the idiotic decisions of previous community leaders like John Smith, Bruce Beck, former city officials and the Chamber of Commerce is extremely foolish. Their vanity can surely not be worth that much.

Cover Art: Vanitas – Thomas Couture’s painting, Daydreams,  serves as an allegory for the vice of vanity.

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