Vague Language, Confusing Messages, Or Outright Duplicity – The YMCA And Its MOU With Abbotsford

By Gerda Peachey. I don’t think Vince Dimano is correct in thinking that only Bruce Banman knew about the Butz YMCA letter.  Watching both afternoon and evening sessions on April 8th leaves no doubt in my mind that these people were aware, and not the least bit surprised by Banmans reading of this letter.

It is to their shame that not even one councillor made a comment, for the listening public, about this new development.  These council meetings are, after all, billed as ‘public meetings.’

What all this business highlights is the peril to us, who must pay for council decisions, of having our public ‘servants’ decide willy-nilly to play big-shot with our tax dollars.

To give some raw examples of their foolish propensity to play with the big boys, lets review:

The contract with Global Spectrum, – a great deal for Global Spectrum,  – a bad deal for Abbotsford.

The contract with the Abbotsford Heat, – a great deal for the Heat owners and the Calgary Flames, – a bad deal for Abbotsford.

The proposed deal with the YMCA, – Approximately $4 million value in free land for 66,000 sq. ft. of a new building.  Abbotsford commits to pay HALF the up-front capital cost of the new building.  The Y to get a free $1.5 million in provincial grant money.  The YMCA to be tax-exempt for the life of their business operation, depriving our city of millions in lost revenue.  The YMCA to charge for fees and services in competition with those who provide similar services, only the other private business folk compete MINUS all the above freebies.  The YMCA protestations about their great altruistic wish to bestow their services on our needy city are a sham.

The YMCA and its MOU with our city is a very good deal for the YMCA, and a very bad deal for Abbotsford.

The deal with the YMCA has been sneaky, shadowy, and covert all along.  What we have now are guesses and rumours.  Still no forthright clarity and substance coming from council, though it is our tax dollars at stake.

Bruce Banman pretended the YMCA business was ‘effectively dead’, when in fact the letter says something very different.  Stephen Butz, far from conceding the loss of the bird he almost had in his hand, writes – “I have had a number of conversations with your City Manager, George Murray. Our discussion reinforced the mutual desire to support a disciplined and prudent recommendation to Council relative to the proposed new YMCA.  In light of current circumstances, we fully recognize the need for flexibility given the capacity issues Mr. Murray now faces.  In the coming days, we will work with his office to develop a revised critical path consistent with the mutual respect and understanding which has underpinned our work together over the past two years.”

If  this thing was really over, what would be the need for George Murray, our over-worked city manager, to spend any more of his precious time working with the Y on a “revised critical path”?

People want to focus on this sentence in the Memorandum of Unerstanding signed October, 2010 between the City and the YMCA – under 5. Legal Rights  

No legal rights or contractual obligation are created between the parties by the execution of this MOU.

However, what then do we do with this little paragraph in the same document? – under Amendment  3. 


Until council shows us a document signed by both signatories to the original MOU, the very costly YMCA ‘gifts’ are a threat to Abbotsford’s public purse.

What is badly needed from Abbotsford Council is an end to drama queen theatrics from centre stage. These are  9 ordinary citizens elected to serve the people of Abbotsford, not men and women suddenly granted totalitarian powers.

Cover Art: Nicholas Cairns, Head Study

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