By Mike Archer. The Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network (ACLN) has been strangely silent on the Abbotsford Homelessness Crisis. From the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident in June to the Abbotsford Community Services Proposal for Supported Housing, the ACLN hasn’t said a word in public about the problems facing this community.
We are consistently asked to simply have faith in the community leaders who have destroyed this city’s finances, embarrassed us on the world stage, lumbered us with a whole series of ultra vires bylaws which will cost us dearly, and conducted a ruthless campaign against our poor and homeless.
Sadly, we have grown accustomed to watching our ‘best and brightest’ in City politics run for cover rather than stand up and lead in times of crisis. In their world lawyers and bureaucrats make the rules and the rules state quite clearly that nothing is to be gained by speaking publicly on controversial matters.
We believe, however, that the community is entitled to expect more from its Christian leaders, especially on an issue which, from the beginning has involved its members and has such enormous moral repercussions for the citizens of this community.
The ACLN must take a stand on the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis or risk being seen as ineffectual mouthpieces for the powerful people who actually run the community – sort of like our politicians.After all, the public portion of this whole sordid chapter in the history of our city began back in 2008 with Councillors John Smith and Bruce Beck, together with downtown developer Bob Bos exercising powers and authority they do not possess to stop Pastor Christoph Reiners of the Peace Lutheran Church from feeding the homeless.
Smith went on to announce that Abbotsford’s bylaw department and police department were about to begin an operation against the homeless. Smith’s tenure at the helm of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) demonstrated how little Smith or the people to whom he answers were interested the views, needs and requirements of the social service community in Abbotsford.
Smith was either impotent, or deliberate in his inability to get anything done at the council table on behalf of ASDAC.
In the last three municipal administrations not a damn thing has been done about the chronically homeless in Abbotsford other than to chase them with billy clubs and chicken feces. It is a sick and sordid record and for the ACLN to stand idly by and do nothing amounts to a dereliction of duty. Were the ACLN a public, taxpayer-funded body it would be sued just as our civic government is by the people who are being harmed by both its action and inaction.
The ACLN should have stood up and been counted way back in 2008. By now, after the events of this summer, which have come to define us in spite of City Council’s attempts to simply let the issue disappear by not speaking about it, we would have expected members of a group that has both the word ‘Christian’ and ‘Leaders’ in the title to have stepped forward and provided some sort of guidance to the community.
With each passing week of silence the ACLN is looking more and more like the City of Character Movement which hasn’t uttered a word in public about the issue or the fact that several of its high profile members were involved in planning and executing the poisoning of homeless people with chicken feces and then laughing about the whole issue.
The secrecy and the lack of courage demonstrated by this city’s leaders by their unwillingness to discuss the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis in public belies a lack of leadership which is frankly stunning.
For generations we have been told that we choose and pay those who occupy positions of authority in the community in order to have the best and the brightest ready to lead us in times of crisis. If ever a community has been in crisis and in need of leadership it is Abbotsford at this moment in its history. If ever leadership were more difficult to find in Abbotsford it is now.
Let history record that our leaders, with one exception*, have scurried under any and every available rock or protective covering in order to avoid their responsibilities in our time of need.
Their silence is not only deafening it is shameful.*Councillor Henry Braun, from the day the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Incident was revealed, to the Bob Rich email incident, has responded to questions and spoken quite clearly about all of the incidents of the summer of 2013. He is the only public official who had the courage to join the homeless and addicts of Abbotsford on August 31st at Jubilee Park and discuss the issues they face in this city.