What Banman Hasn’t Told Taxpayers About The YMCA Fiasco

By Lily Kaetler. Clarification is required on the YMCA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Speaking in terms of delaying the project, postponement of the project or no longer pursuing the project tends to deflect from the real reason,why the Mayor of Abbotsford has not clearly explained, the City’s position on a proposed YMCA project in Abbotsford.

Once again, perhaps, banking on the idea of ‘third time lucky,’ Council has brought forward a project supported, once again, by the Abbotsford Chamber past and present Exec. and some of it’s select members, many in development/big business, but, like Plan A and the water vote, this project requires funding. Funding the city just does NOT have!

As ex-mayor George Peary said in 2009, “Sooner or later you have to bite the bullet,” in reference to the $30 million the City was short for roads/maintenance, due to the money being used for the arena cost overruns.

Yes, I knew it was just a matter of time. Things tend to have a domino effect and it all started with the Plan A cost overuns.

The bottom line: The city of Abbotsford had to defer the YMCA project, due to lack of funds in the city reserves to cover costs of this project. Only half the money was available, but, the Vye Rd. project requires a $8.3 million injection of cash, which the city cannot defer.

The Vye Rd. project has been on the cities’ books, since 2005 and has been a safety risk for years, which now can be addressed with the input of money from the Federal and Provincial Government.

Development Cost Charges (DCCs) also play into the financial picture, when it comes to the YMCA financing. Slow housing starts, due in part to the instability of the Canadian economy, further restrict the ability of the city to replenish its reserve funds.
What many taxpayers do not know is that the city borrowed a portion of the costs for the McCallum/Clearbrook Rd. Interchange projects via the DCC Road & Water Fund with the understanding of the need to replace the monies with future DCC’S.

The city ended up in a difficult financial situation:
– DCCs from new development (which is almost non-existent) are needed in the near future in order to replenish funds used via internal borrowing
– $17.5 million for the City’s portion of YMCA costs isn’t there
– $ 8.3 million for cities’ portion of Vye Rd./Nexus upgrades isn’t there either but can be borrowed

Mayor Banman tried to make it seem that the YMCA decided not to pursue the project at this time due to staff issues at City Hall, Mark Taylor’s passing, a new City Manager, etc., when in fact,it was more about the city trying to avoid admitting they were supporting a project which the city cannot afford, at this time.

Mayor Banman did not think it necessary to explain to the taxpayers opposed to this project about the determination made between, the city and the YMCA, prior to Mr. Thiessen’s delegation to Council, because, after all, Thiessen and his supporters, are just seen as a small group of irrelevant taxpayers, not city stakeholders like the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce Executive, or select developers/big businessmen and women in this city, whom the city associates with on a regular basis.

Mayor Banman, not in touch with the everyday taxpayer in this city, misjudged Mr. Thiessen’s role as a ‘stakeholder’ in this city.

He also, represents the other stakeholders in this city – the very people, who pay the taxes, pay the mortgages, are consumers, and make it possible for private big business/developers in this city to thrive and profit!

Mr. Thiessen came to speak to Council but, he is the voice of many taxpayers in this city and it is time for council to start listening to the so-called critics and naysayers in this city, because they are stakeholders in this city too.

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