Firstly I have to clarify that I have lots of experience with mental illness, drug addiction, and homelessness, both personally as well as professionally.

Abbotsford Community Services (ACS $21 million dollar budget- 66% government funded- 2013) application to rezone the property in downtown away from the C7 zoning, is increasingly becoming concerning for me. It is so reminiscent of the water referendum in the last local election, where we had huge use of tax dollars to promote the yes vote, by hiring all kinds of professionals and using promotional materials and advertising. Thankfully in the end it was realized the false statements were just a ploy to swing the vote. I personally am very opposed to having my tax dollars expended on a promotional campaign.

ACS has hired all kinds of consultants, PR people, and done very expensive advertising, while pulling at the heart strings of people or making statements that this housing will take people off the streets of Abbotsford, at a time when people just want something done. There is plenty of evidence that the people in the camps will not participate in this housing. There is also plenty of evidence that these types of housings in many communities have a huge negative impact on the surrounding community.

I am not in favor of doing something just to be seen to be doing something, especially if it is the wrong thing and when it creates a ghetto in our downtown. Dear God I hope we can do better for the mentally ill then give them a ghetto. This provincial tax money needs to go to dealing with mental health issues for people that are in the camps, who have no interest in being housed. It is difficult to wrap my head around a police officer taking a person to the hospital and sitting there for hours waiting to get the person admitted and then they are back out on the street in a day or so, because there is no proper mental health facility, since the closing of Riverview. Housing and social services need to be spread out throughout the community and not centralized all in one area.

The people who are working on getting this pushed through don’t live or own property in the downtown. I would venture to say most of them go to their safe expensive homes after they have completed their service in the downtown, leaving the neighbors and businesses, many of who are only a pay cheque or two away from being homeless themselves, to deal with the after effects of their service.

Having said all that this decision should not be about homelessness but rather about community planning and what do we want our downtown to look like.

Firstly I have to clarify that I have lots of experience with mental illness, drug addiction, and homelessness, both personally as well as professionally.

Abbotsford Community Services (ACS $21 million dollar budget- 66% government funded- 2013) application to rezone the property in downtown away from the C7 zoning, is increasingly becoming concerning for me. It is so reminiscent of the water referendum in the last local election, where we had huge use of tax dollars to promote the yes vote, by hiring all kinds of professionals and using promotional materials and advertising. Thankfully in the end it was realized the false statements were just a ploy to swing the vote. I personally am very opposed to having my tax dollars expended on a promotional campaign.

ACS has hired all kinds of consultants, PR people, and done very expensive advertising, while pulling at the heart strings of people or making statements that this housing will take people off the streets of Abbotsford, at a time when people just want something done. There is plenty of evidence that the people in the camps will not participate in this housing. There is also plenty of evidence that these types of housings in many communities have a huge negative impact on the surrounding community.

I am not in favor of doing something just to be seen to be doing something, especially if it is the wrong thing and when it creates a ghetto in our downtown. Dear God I hope we can do better for the mentally ill then give them a ghetto. This provincial tax money needs to go to dealing with mental health issues for people that are in the camps, who have no interest in being housed. It is difficult to wrap my head around a police officer taking a person to the hospital and sitting there for hours waiting to get the person admitted and then they are back out on the street in a day or so, because there is no proper mental health facility, since the closing of Riverview. Housing and social services need to be spread out throughout the community and not centralized all in one area.

The people who are working on getting this pushed through don’t live or own property in the downtown. I would venture to say most of them go to their safe expensive homes after they have completed their service in the downtown, leaving the neighbors and businesses, many of who are only a pay cheque or two away from being homeless themselves, to deal with the after effects of their service.

Having said all that this decision should not be about homelessness but rather about community planning and what do we want our downtown to look like.

………………..(AND SOME FACEBOOK RESPONSE TO MARY’S THOUGHTS)
  • Anne Graham and 3 others like this.
  • Linda Nikkel Klippenstein A few points: first about C7. One of the arguments I’ve heard is that this is more about not wanting to change zoning, that C7 should be respected. Does this mean it will never be flexible to change? The bylaw restricts many different types of businesses, one of them is tattoo salons. They’ve gone from undesirable to very upscale successful businesses. They’ve gone mainstream. In fact in the US in 2012, the tattoo industry had a revenue of 2.3 billion $$$. But they are never to be allowed in the downtown core. It’s written in the bylaw. Would that ever change or not? 
    Do businesses really blame marginalized people on their businesses hurting? Wouldn’t malls, big box stores, and High Street not also be to blame? Why isn’t there an outcry?
    This housing will help 20 men. Only 20 and there should be more. But it’s a start. Victoria has one of these right behind the Empress hotel. And it hasn’t hurt business. There are others supported by BC housing in upscale areas and they have success stories. The housing first method really does make sense.
  • Elsie K. Neufeld there is plenty of evidence to support the proposed housing works well, as well as first-hand testimonials by persons who own businesses in abbotsford’s downtown area, and who live in the neighbourhood, who DO support the proposed apartment. Mary was at the helm when the bylaw was created, and therefore has a vested interest in its upholding. Does Mary shop in the downtown area regularly? Eat there? Have her nails done there? Bank there? I do. What the downtown area needs is MORE shoppers! Five eateries shut down in the last year: A chocolate shop; a deli; the farm house restaurant; Roasted Grapes, and the seafood bistro lasted only two months. I am in favour of the proposed housing. I am not paid to say that. I speak from personal and professional experience, too. As one who knows, from a front-row seat, addiction and mental illness.
  • Mary Reeves Zoning changes should only take place if the changes are a benefit to the original intent of the zoning and to the whole community. Yes I do shop and use services in the downtown. Yes I have a vested interest as does every person in this city. This is not about only one population of the city, at this time, but about the big picture and representing all the people associated with the downtown, whether business or residents. It is about the future. 96% of businesses in the ADBA do not agree with approving this zoning change. That is pretty significant support, even if there are a few that would support it. I have family who live in this very same low or no barrier facility, in the DTES, so I am very aware of how this works.
  • Elsie K. Neufeld This rezoning would benefit the original intent. which was to get homeless off the street. it’s a start — for 20 men. Neither Kinghaven, with its George Schmidt Faciity or Christine Lamb Apartments have negatively affected the neighbourhoods in which they are built, and the outcry opposing the Christine Lamb Residence was equally loud when the latter was proposed. When the Warm Zone, a drop-in centre for women who are addicts, sex trade workers, some homeless, and some with mental illness, started across from Jubilee Park, b&e’s in the neighbourhood dropped, not rose. And pregnancies among sex trade workers went from 40 in one year, down to two (kept) within a year or two. 96% of the ADBA is what per centage of Abbotsford’s population of 130,000? Where would you suggest the facility would be built, and what did you do as mayor of Abbotsford about the homeless situation then? I ask this respectfully, as I don’t know the answer.
  • Mary Reeves I don’t want to turn a friends post into a boxing match, so will bring this to a close, as we aren’t likely to ever agree on this and I thank you for taking the time to read and respond.
  • Linda Nikkel Klippenstein Oh Mary. Not boxing, just discussing. We all post our opinions and shouldn’t be upset or surprised when people respond and don’t agree. Trudy, I will read what you recommended. I have liked his other books.
    23 hours ago · Like · 1
  • Mary Reeves Not at all surprised.
  • Gerda Peachey Prior to the C7 zoning, Downtown Abbotsford was a depressing dump. How does giving over the core of a city to degradation enhance anyone’s life? What is needed is help up and hopefully out –– of the prison of addictions. The Province via Mike de Jong says, well we’re offering to help pay for a ‘low-barrier’ home, but they insist it be within that paltry 4 square-mile zone, –– that zone that finally created a bit of security for people willing to risk their own resources to bring new life and improvement to the core. And they really are changing the face of downtown – for the better. Insisting that we alter the C7 to accommodate this type of facility violates the trust merchants placed in the City’s integrity. It is private business that generates real money. Generous social services exist because of the hard work and motivation of private business. So if Mike can find a few million to support a homeless facility within the protected
  • Gerda Peachey C7, surely he can find the same money to place a structure just across the street. The business of ‘housing first’, without having strong guidelines within the facility is problematic. No doubt there is a lot of love and compassion in the hearts of people who push for this proposal, but love should focus on transformative help. And no way should the homeless be given a free pass on their lives of crime, by which they feed the monster of their addictions. This mushy ‘love’, ends up being a tyranny to the hard-working people whose taxes rise to pay for misguided government decisions.
    22 hours ago · Like · 2
  • Anne Graham DTES is good evidence that you shouldn’t concentrate all the services in one area, nuff said.
    21 hours ago · Like · 1
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