YMCA Goes Down With A Grunt

By April 24, 2013Vince Dimanno, YMCA

By now you know that the YMCA deal is dead. That is good enough for most of us, but there was this document left sitting on the table called a Memorandum of Understanding. To give the public a full sense of closure on this deal, Councillor Henry Braun tabled a motion to base the end of the deal on a letter sent to the YMCA by our City Manager George Murray. In it, Mr. Murray unequivocally kills the deal.

This is in sharp contrast to how Mayor Banman put an end to the YMCA project at the previous Council meeting. He then stated that it was the YMCA who didn’t want to continue and that they had said so in a letter to the City of Abbotsford. This was untrue. The letter said nothing of the sort. In fact, it simply said they were ready to work on a new plan to move forward. Not end the deal.

Councillor Braun’s motion was in 3 parts. I am paraphrasing, but you’ll get the intent:

  1. To accept the Report from the City Manager that included the letter to the YMCA confirming and end to the deal.
  2. That the letter sent by the City Manager be accepted as the confirmation of the end of the deal, not the previous YMCA letter.
  3. That should the YMCA re-approach the City, a new process be started.

Simple huh?

Here is where I struggle. At least 3 Councillors didn’t understand this motion and spoke against it. Smith, Loewen and MacGregor separately stated that they would vote against the motion for various reasons and they included believing it to be a motion that undermined the City Manager, and, that it was slamming the door on the YMCA forever.

Now read the motion again and tell me where you see that. Even after Councillor Ross explained it to them …yes I said Councillor Ross … they wouldn’t give it up.

Of course we had to hear asinine comments from John Smith that this “was a sad day for Abbotsford” and that he couldn’t believe we would say goodbye to $1.5 million from the Liberal Government (his words … apparently, it isn’t the taxpayers of BC who give Abbotsford this money, it is specifically the Liberal Gov’t). He believed that we have the money to make this project happen. The only sad day here is that the former banker on City Council is unable to read a balance sheet.

Smith wasn’t alone in his completely “out to lunch” comments though. Councillor Barkman, despite voting for the motion, also thought it a sad day that we were “not only saying goodbye to the Y, but all $300 million worth of projects on this site”.


Councillor Barkman, this isn’t a package deal is it? Do you know something that the people of Abbotsford don’t know? How can a recreation facility worth 10% of the site development and even less of the overall scope of projects earmarked for the site, be the reason everything is built or not?

Only a couple of weeks ago, we published a story that clearly stated that MLA Mike de Jong was holding local charity organizations hostage for their support for the YMCA by threatening to send their funding to another city. Has Councillor Barkman stated that to now be true by inferring that all other projects on the site are dead?

Note: the story about Mike de Jong’s involvement in the YMCA project is completely true. We don’t need confirmation. In fact, our research continues on that involvement and further columns and press releases will be coming forthwith.

As always, the Mayor took his turn to relay his disappointment over the YMCA to the people gathered for the Council Meeting. Irony is not lost on our Mayor folks. He spoke of how we never had a debate, or had all the facts in front of us in order to make a decision on the YMCA. He called it a “travesty” that we didn’t even get to have all the facts so that the city could make the best deal possible for its citizens. He joined John Smith in his shock over all the misinformation that was out there in the general public and how it was a few “special interest groups” that seized the day to end this opportunity for Abbotsford. He couldn’t help but wrap it up with one final lie though. Mayor Banman actually said that the only people hurt by this would be the underprivileged families that would not have anywhere to go now.

You should be laughing. C’mon … chuckle with me.

I’m not going to explain to the Mayor or any of you how dumb those statements are. Read all the columns here on Abbotsford Today and you’ll see that there was no misinformation in this community. Just like the Water Issue, Council fed us a line of crap and when it didn’t go there way, they claimed we are the ones who are misinformed. Yes, I guess Reports to Council by the Finance Dept now constitute “misinformation”.  You guys are a joke.

I am, however, going to tell you this.

The campaign to fight the YMCA grew to nearly 300 citizens donating a total of almost $9000. Most of them attended 2 Council meetings to show you their support. Those supporters were made up of many business people, home owners, families and ratepayers. None of them are as dumb as you. We know that as soon as you get the chance, you’re going to bring the YMCA back to the table because you won’t be happy until you have given, or pissed away, our last nickel.

This time is different though. We’ve had enough and we’re on to your game. This time, we’ll be waiting … and we’re ready.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Fred Thiessen says:

    I was at the council meeting. Everything Vince says is true. The only travesty is how the mayor attempts to bully people from his ‘pulpit’. And it’s very easy to throw out ludicrous statements in a forum where no one can challenge..I asked to speak and the mayor refused to allow me. Maybe the mayor and John Smith would like to debate this issue in public?

  • Walter Neufeld says:

    Thanks for the excellent report Vince.

    I invite Mayor Banman, Councillors Smith, and Loewen to identify & list the so-called misinformation they claim came from the opposition.

    After the proposed tax entitlement was made public, the community review process began in earnest to the chagrin of those Councillors who had, by all appearances, presupposed the outcome. Contrary to the nonsensical claims of misinformation, many concerned taxpayers spent a great deal of time diligently researching the facts. And, the more facts were unearthed the worse the YMCA’s tax entitlement deal looked.

    That research was either published and/or emailed to the Mayor and Council for review and comment. Most Councillors elected to remain disengaged and thereby undermined the very process they now claim to uphold. A few Councillors engaged but their incompetence quickly sidelined them form further meaningful participation. Those Councillors tax spending minds appear to have been made up from the outset and new facts simply would not be allowed to get in the way of that desired outcome.

    Likewise, the Mayor and supportive Councillors could have easily discredited the misinformation at Mondays Executive meeting, but they didn’t.

    Steeped in failure, they now lash out at a community that had the courage to confront their reckless spending habits. They now claim, after-the-fact, that they could have cut a better deal, that opponents wrecked a $300 million dollar deal, and opponents besmirched an esteemed institution. Really? History and facts belie all those scurrilous inaccuracies.

    It all leaves reasonable people to conclude that the accusations of “misinformation” are nothing more than the lament of bombastic, obstinate politicians who have been held to account.

    It is a sad day for Abbotsford’s long-suffering taxpayers because these men appear determined to keep-on keeping-on just because they are our elected governors, damit.

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