By Mike Archer. Before Fred Thiessen could rise to give his much anticipated second appearance before Abbotsford Council, Mayor Bruce Banman read a letter into the record from Stephen Butz, president of the YMCA in Vancouver, saying that, due to Former Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Taylor’s untimely death at the bottom of a crevasse while skiing last month, the YMCA is indefinitely postponing its controversial plans to build a membership driven fitness facility with taxpayers’ money.
Mayor Banman told the approximately 175 people attending the meeting that, it was Butz’s contention that, in light of the fact that the Parks and Recreation Department now has only an interim manager and, with all the work required to bring almost a decade’s worth of planning and investment to fruition it was going to postpone the project indefinitely and move on to another project.Neither the letter nor the Mayor explained how Taylor’s death could have such a cataclysmic impact on the $35 million proposal other than to imply that there was a lot of work to be done and not enough senior staff to do it. When Thiessen was asked if he would still like to make his presentation, Thiessen said, “Well not to make light of the tragedy that befell Mark Taylor, and anybody who knows me knows I have known tragedy, I’m not sure what indefinitely postponed means nor what Mr. Taylors death has to do with this.”
He then asked Banman if Butz’s letter withdrawing the YMCA’s proposal meant the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and the YMCA was now null and void but Banman wouldn’t commit himself saying, “You’ll have to give us a little time to deal with this matter.”
Banman didn’t explain why, if the letter was dated March 28, staff and council had so far been unable to deal with it.
Trying to be as delicate as possible Thiessen nonetheless pressed the mayor to explain how the MOU could remain a legal obligation on behalf of Abbotsford taxpayers if the YMCA appeared to be pulling out with no explanation other than the word ‘indefinitely’ which Thiessen said, “Could change next week.”
Banman said there would likely be more news on the future of the proposal at the next council meeting and suggested that there be no further public discussion of the YMCA proposal for an indefinite period as well.