Category Archives: Why am I running?

Statement to set out briefly why I am running.

Preying on the Poor and Homeless

Reprehensible, despicable, abominable, anathema?

Anathema, best begins to reflect the contempt I hold those who prey upon the poor in; a behaviour that is unfortunately neither unusual nor that rare in Abbotsford.

I spent time on July 31 paying rent and other bills which left me broke but secure for another month. I could do this because the monies due me were in fact deposited in my bank account.

I spent time on August 1 explaining to a gentleman what the rules were and what he needed to do to get a bed in the shelter that evening. He found himself in need of a bed at the emergency shelter because monies due him had not been paid. Sadly he was not the only person finding themselves in a bad situation because this “employer” had not paid people the wages they were due.

One of the other people who were on this job had been at the shelter when this “employment opportunity” came his way. Had been at the shelter because, with the long hours they were working, he had not returned to the shelter in order not to lose this “job” and the opportunity it represented to earn enough money to be able to afford an apartment and to start to get his feet back under him.

In doing the demolition on what had been the Grand Theatre in the Clearbrook Town Square Mall on South Fraser Way in Abbotsford they had been labouring hard 14+ hours a day to be done by the deadline.

These were not the only two victims who had the rug pulled out from under them once the job was finished. The friend I was sitting beside on August 1 had been telling me about others who had also been left owed a thousand plus dollars of wages for this job. After the gentleman had left my friend gave me a ‘what are you going to do about this’ look – a look he is very good at.

The people hired to do the hard labour during the demolition were homeless or poor in need of the money for rent so as not to join the growing ranks of homeless on Abbotsford’s streets or to get off the streets into housing.

They are each owed $1,000+ apiece and have been told there is no money to pay them what is owed, that they may get 25% of what they earned. Often in these circumstances they get nothing. Or only get the small “advances” given by the “kind, understanding” boss to keep them coming back and working hard.

To quote Samuel Butler: Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.
This kind of behaviour is why temporary labour agencies have long lines of workers at their doors – better to get minimum wage and actually be paid than to “earn” double the minimum wage but never see a cent.

The poor and homeless are seen as powerless victims who, lacking power, are helpless to do anything about collecting the monies owed them. Prey to be exploited to line someone’s pockets.

In this instance, even if they thought about filing a lien, could they fill out the paperwork and then file their class action suit in small claims court?

Except … for a certain ‘what are you going to do about this’ look. I told my friend to pass along the fact that we can, should, will file a lien to get their money. That I can and will help them fill out the paperwork and file their lien to get the monies they earned through hard work if necessary.

If city council feels the need to pull business licenses or deny the ability to do business in Abbotsford they should apply this principle to those who prey on the poor and powerless, not just to those who annoy the powerful. They should be telling those who seek wealth by preying on the poor that this is not an acceptable business practice in Abbotsford.

Procrastination …

… is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill

Is it just me or does it strike others that a headline screaming ‘WATER DANGEROUSLY LOW’ and proclaiming that a ‘sprinkling ban (is) coming’ in this the summer of 2009 is at odds with the statement ‘Abbotsford is anticipated to have enough water until 2018’.

Given Abbotsford City Staff and Council’s record on “anticipated” over the past years I certainly don’t want to be gambling on Abbotsford having enough water until 2018. More importantly why are we gambling on having enough water until 2018 rather than being prudent and investing in the future of Abbotsford’s water supply now?

‘Because the 12 reservoirs serving Abbotsford refill overnight (from Norrish Creek and from the 17 wells), the city only needs to worry about its peak daily water consumption.’ Council might want to follow the example of other municipalities in the lower mainland and spare some thought to what happens to the refilling of reservoirs if the flow of Norrish Creek diminishes, given the low snow pack and the effect this has had on the levels of lakes and streams in the lower mainland.

Look around your neighbourhood and you will see those new steel signs detailing the watering restrictions. The appearance of the signs for the first time this year suggests the City was aware of possible water supply problems this summer.

Council and staff have been well aware for years of the need to invest in the city’s water infrastructure to meet the city’s growing demand for water. What was the City’s response?

To ‘buy time before it has to tap into a new water supply’; how many millions of taxpayer dollars are we misapplying to ‘buying time’ rather than investing in building the infrastructure we need to meet Abbotsford’s water needs?

It is not just the millions spent on stopgap measures such as the Bevan wells; Mill Lake is a jewel in the center of Abbotsford – what is pumping water out of the ground under Mill Lake doing to this jewel’s future?

What businesses are going to want to locate to a City with a ‘dangerously low’ and/or inadequate water supply? What responsible developer is going to want to build housing in a City that has not secured a source of water to meet growing needs? What smart homebuyer will buy a home that may or may not have running water?

The need to invest several hundred million dollars in a new water supply has not come out of the blue.

The need to make a major investment in water supply infrastructure was part of the Plan A debate. For opponents of Plan A, given that the City needed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new water supply, the financially responsible course of action was to invest in the City’s future by building a new water supply before spending on ego projects.

Instead Council chose to rush precipitously ahead with Plan A and to seek to ‘buy time’ on a new water supply; even though a new water supply was/is vital to Abbotsford’s future liveability.

Millions in cost overruns that devoured reserves, $85 million in debt, soaring taxes … all at a time when Council knew they needed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new water supply.

Yes, City Council’s feckless behaviour has left the City in a poor financial position to undertake the needed large investment in a new water supply; yes, City Council’s fudget as opposed to a budget for this fiscal year has further eroded Abbotsford’s financial health; and yes, the need to invest in additional waste treatment capacity complicates matters.

Abbotsford will just have to ‘deal with it.’ Burying you head in the stand and/or trying to avoid making this investment in a timely matter, sooner rather than as late as ‘anticipated’ possible, is an irresponsible gamble.

Does Council intend to wait until Abbotsford, as happened to Tofino, finds itself trucking in water from its responsible neighbouring municipalities before it acts?

Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday. Napoleon Hill

Mayor’s, Council’s Actions raise dobts about their Words

“Welcome to the club” crossed my mind while reading “Mayor George Peary responded quite curtly to my e-mail that this fee will generate $125,000 and “if you have any suggestions for additional revenue sources for the city or recommended cuts in city services for 2010, we would like to hear from you.”” in a letter to the editor.

The letter writer joins a growing list of citizens dissed by Mayor Peary and City Council for daring to suggest that Abbotsford’s Council live within its means.

Further, while I have no doubt Mayor Peary would love to hear suggestions for additional revenue sources that would permit City Council to continue its financially irresponsible spending ways; I do doubt, based on council’s actions in searching for new ways to divert taxpayer’s money into City pockets rather than the prudent fiscal behaviour of reducing spending, Mayor Peary or Council having any real desire to hear suggestions on spending cuts.

City Council did not cut one single dollar from the budget for this current year. Any ‘phantom cuts’ they claim to have made were only reductions of proposed spending increases. Any suggestions made during the budget process that Council cut spending in order to begin living within their means, were either ignored or, as in the case of the Abbotsford Ratepayers Association, publically scorned.

Focusing only on feeding Councils insatiable appetite for spending leads to a mindset where, when questioned on imposing user fees on sports fields, Mayor Peary focused on “… this fee will generate $125,000” rather than the truly important consideration – the devastating effect these extra fees will have on many young sports players ability to afford to participate.

Especially in these economically tight times when so many are forced to count how every penny is spent – except it seems, Abbotsford City Council.

A significant portion, if not all, of the money that the fees will raise could have been saved by the simple action of not spending the tens of thousand of dollars the city is spending to replace what was a perfectly good sign in front of the Abbotsford Recreation Centre, with an electronic sign. The old sign would have served fine until such time as the city’s financial house was in order.

But then, why should Council be expected to behave responsibly when the sign was shiny and bright and new and required spending taxpayer’s money?

Behaviour that holds little hope of this Council getting Abbotsford’s financial house in order; behaviour that leaves informed taxpayers shuddering at the thought of how wasteful and costly to the taxpayers Council’s spending will become if they ever get their greedy hands on a gasoline tax as a revenue source.

Why not in Abbotsford also? Part 2

 

 

The quote Ms. Lila Rauh used from my letter of June 12, 2009 in her Abbotsford Times letter of June 16th (see Below) was taken out of context, not only losing the point being made but implying a different meaning entirely.

“While Abbotsford City Council has been paying lip service to the lamentable lack of affordable housing, hiring social planners and forming advisory committees – City Councils in Chilliwack and Mission have been supporting and standing behind supportive affordable housing projects in their cities.”

Nowhere is mention made of Abbotsford City Council paying for affordable housing. The affordable housing being built in Mission and Chilliwack is not being paid for by those Councils. The contribution of the Councils of Mission and Chilliwack is not money but supporting and voting for projects. Contrast this with Abbotsford where Council is saying the right things but not acting to support affordable housing initiatives.

It does no good for senior governments to provide funds for housing when Abbotsford City Council is not prepared to hold up its end of the affordable housing equation.

The provincial government brought $22 million to the table to cover the costs for building 2 housing projects, with an additional yearly funding stream to provide funding for 35 years of supportive services.

The Clearbrook housing project depends upon City Council passing the rezoning over what is sure to be loud opposition by area residents since Council has shown that if people scream loud enough council will cut and run.

On the other project the City backed away from the $11 million in construction funding plus 35 years worth of funding ($22,750,000) that the provincial government brought to the table.

If we say to the provincial government they should provide funding for affordable housing in Abbotsford, are they not entitled to say ‘we offered $11 million plus yearly funding for 35 years ($22,750,000) and Abbotsford City Cuncil passed on the funding’?

Further if Council fails to pass the rezoning for the Clearbrook Road project why would anyone, provincial government or charitable organization, want to invest (and potentially waste) resources, time and money in any project that depends on leadership from Abbotsford City Council?

Affordable housing has been built with the support of Mission’s Council, built with the support of Chilliwack’s Council and modular housing units from the Olympic athletes housing will be trucked through Abbotsford to add to the affordable housing stocks in Chilliwack.

Abbotsford City Council’s recent actions say that affordable housing has no future in our city until we get a council that is able to provide leadership, not money, on affordable housing.

********************

In reference to James Breckenridge of Abbotsford, and his June 12 letter in which he berates Abbotsford council for not doing enough to create low-cost housing, and laments the “lack of affordable housing, hiring social planners and forming of advisory committees” which he thinks can rectify the situation.

Many citizens feel that this is exactly the wrong way to go since it removes the responsibility of the other levels of government who are financially responsible for those tasks.

Please, please, look into the facts of what is a provincial or federal jurisdiction for funding and what is municipal in various areas of low-cost housing.

What we definitely do not need is more ways to spend money on duplicate efforts, and becoming enablers for those who shirk their responsibilities.

It is certainly easy for local governments to dip into the endless pot of funds provided by local taxes and do the job in order to gain brownie points, but it is not the right thing to do – either in these tight financial times or otherwise.

For those interested, phone the provincial government and ask for their B.C. Housing financial booklet for 2008 and it will show you exactly who is primarily responsible for the various areas of low-cost housing.

Then put all your energies to apply pressure through your government representatives to fulfil their responsibilities.

Lila Rauh,

Mission