By Gerda Peachey. I am grateful to Gary Guthrie. In his retirement he doesn’t need to bother his head about the complexities of city finances. Gary brings a wisdom and insight that few of us can have, and we need the light he shines on the inner workings of city hall.
Last Dec. Gary read a lengthy, well-prepared challenge to Bruce Banman’s push to gift the wealthy YMCA with free land, free (OUR) money of $17.5 million dollars, and no tax for the next 40 years or so, Gary’s submission was not welcomed by Banman and those on council who also seem heady with the delirious power to throw our money around – like drunken sailors.
For now the YMCA lurks back in the shadows, but we see no leadership on ridding this city of the excessive burden imposed on the citizens by continued support of a private hockey team, the Heat, owned by the wealthy Calgary Flames. We continue to funnel money to the wealthy US Global Spectrum, to run the AESC that we built without a clue about how to run such a massive entertainment centre.
On Nov. 4th, Henry Braun pointed out to the rest of his council members that the tax-relief figure for (the very wealthy) Wal-Mart at High Street was not the $l.033 million shown to the public but actually was double that amount. Staff agreed that … yes, that was true.
Councillor Braun pointed out the lack of clarity as to what we shell out for the loser AESC and the loser Abbotsford Heat. Total subsidy $3.6 million. Braun said, ‘I don’t think you’ll see it get better.”
Our mayor, council and staff signed the beleaguered tax-payers on to badly one-sided contracts, little smelt playing with big sharks, but that contract with Global Spectrum does spell out some expectations that Global has not met, so why is this contract not voided?
We need to hear a lot more from Gary Guthrie. We also need to hear a lot more about what this mayor and Council intend to do about the existing deals with Global Spectrum and the Abbotsford Heat, that only take tax money and give nothing back.
Bruce Banman suggests that no anchor hockey means we’d have to fill the white elephant with cement. How about just kick out all the losers and give the place to Abbotsford. If we have to pay the mortgage and the upkeep anyway, why not tell those who must bear that financial burden …here, the place is yours. Enjoy it.
Editor’s note: This column first appeared as a comment on Gary Guthrie’s Nov 5 column “Abbotsford’s 2014 Budget Raises Serious Concerns And Questions“