During the night at City Hall when Mayor Bruce Banman caused the biggest simultaneous intake of air by any group of people in one place in Abbotsford as the assembled citizens gasped in astonishment at his decision to turn down $15.3 million in provincial funding and 60 years worth of support for a small supportive housing project for alcohol addicted men, there was Allan Asaph of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce proudly sitting with the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) contingent cheering Banman on.
According to documents available on the Chamber website, only a few months earlier Allan had been quite supportive of the ACS proposal (see below).
Who got to Allan and changed his mind?
What was it that made him perform a pirouette?
Why would an organization like the Chamber of Commerce pivot 180 degrees on an issue of such controversy and importance to the community at large and move from a forward-looking, modern, open and enlightened position to that of a backward, inward-looking, exclusive, money-grubbing minority of ill-informed land owners?
It is a bit strange to witness such a close-knit and closeted group of individuals make such an about-face.
If anybody can help us make some sense of it we’d appreciate your input.
Use the comments box below or, as always, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 02, 2013
From Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce website.
Chamber Supports Housing First to Address Homelessness
(604) 859-9651 ; Allan@abbotsfordchamber.com
At the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce on Monday, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce spoke in favour of a resolution calling on the federal government to maintain the “Housing First” approach of creating and sustaining affordable and supportive housing as a first priority in the development of a national strategy. “Housing First” approach aims to move homeless people from shelters and the streets into stable housing, while providing them with the necessary support for underlying issues to help stabilize their lives.
“We are asking the federal government to coordinate efforts with the provinces and municipalities to stimulate new affordable housing construction”, says Abbotsford Chamber President Mike Welte. “Homelessness in Canada is a complex issue which requires a multiplicity of solutions”, adds Welte. “I’m pleased to report that the resolution passed unanimously”.
Locally, a 21 unit supportive housing project, based on the “Housing First” model has been proposed by Abbotsford Community Services. Built in conjunction with BC Housing, this project will be an additional resource in our community to address the issue of homelessness. Abbotsford Community Services has made a re-zoning application to the City of Abbotsford to locate the project on property adjacent to their building on Montrose Ave. This property is located within the boundaries of the Downtown Abbotsford Business Improvement Area (BIA).
When the City established the BIA it created a specific Downtown Abbotsford Commercial Zoning Bylaw (C7) which identified a geographic boundary to the BIA and defined permitted uses as well as identifying specific exclusions. The zoning was created to deal with deteriorating conditions within the historic city core. Vacant and abandoned buildings, lack of maintenance, inappropriate business uses and a high concentration of social services agencies were major contributors to the decline. Currently, supportive housing use is excluded under the bylaw.
The BIA was created to address a community need with specific guidelines to achieve that goal and purpose. The Abbotsford Downtown Business Association has worked diligently over the past decade to successfully revitalize and renew the downtown core. The C7 zoning has been an effective tool that has guided that development and the Abbotsford Chamber fully supports the current zoning within the boundaries of the BIA.
The proposed “Housing First” supportive housing project is intended to meet an additional identified community need, that of providing additional services for the homeless. As a City we need to address our common concerns in a manner that builds on our strengths as a community, not one in which we must cause separate and distinct needs to conflict. The Chamber of Commerce encourages all stakeholders to investigate potential alternate locations to complete the “Housing First” Supportive Housing Project within the community.