If the Lord wills, and if I live, I will run for Abbotsford city council in the November election. So I will need a platform, a slogan.

So here goes: Vote for me, and I promise you blue skies and lower taxes! Well…………. maybe not. That’s too overused.

Looking over past campaign brochures of others, vying for political power, I think I’ll try out some of their strategy. So how about this:

Vote for me because,……. Gerda Peachey stands for;

– HONESTY
– INTEGRITY
– BUSINESS
– ENVIRONMENT
– AMBITION
– OPEN TO NEGOTIATION
– HARD WORKING
– TRANSPARENCY
– COURAGEOUS
– BEAUTIFUL………………? Uhm, wait a minute. Do all these glossy brochures and buzz words really have any meaning?

From my observation of politicians of all stripes, over my lifetime, it has become clear that campaign platforms and slogans bear little resemblance to the real person, who wins the coveted seat.

So here’s the real reason I plan, by the grace of God, to run in the fall election.

I think, with some refreshing exceptions, our city has been badly served by our mayors and councils,……past and present.

It looks as if the current leadership, with Bruce Banman as mayor, and a council that mostly behaves like lap dogs, is on a course to continue with the unfortunate tendency to take money from hard-working people, and use it wantonly on all sorts of glamour projects.

Our mayors and councils have dabbled in hugely expensive business ventures, that have cost us all dearly. Council and staff don’t pay a price for sinking public funds into failed ventures. Government has no real skin in the game. Their generous salaries, benefits and retirement packages rarely suffer loss, regardless of how many millions they blow, of our tax-dollars.

For me the solution to blundering government excess is simple. Stay out of business ventures. Allow the private sector to pursue business ventures in Abbotsford, for which they have the expertise, the energy and the financial backing needed to succeed, or perhaps to fail.

Elected officials and bureaucrats do not need to work hard, or work smart when playing big-shot with the public purse.

Abbotsford needs to make rules that are sensible and doable. We need to allow for the creativity and industry of the private sector, not placing unnecessary roadblocks to development that will enhance our city. We need jobs for sure. We need a safe community to live in and a city where development is done with serious effort to keep the city beautiful and liveable.

But Abbotsford is not that kind of city. We do not have a level playing field here.

For the thirty years that I’ve lived in Abbotsford, there has been an astonishing disparity in the way city hall, under the supervision of mayors and councils, have dealt with by-law infractions.

Had there been no rules at all, no regulations, no by-laws in place at all, for anyone, then EVERYONE in Abbotsford could have become a little richer, by using their property in any way they chose. People here could have built large homes and rented out individual suites, or even single rooms in their houses. People could have rented out garages, trailers, sheds, barns—–whatever, and made life financially easier with the rental income. But in fact there are constraints on the books, constraints that is, for some of the citizenry.

And here I will state that there should indeed be some leniency, written into the books, allowing for some increased use of personal property to help pay the bills, and to provide much-needed low rental housing.

In reality, almost every new home built in Abbotsford, even when zoned as ‘single family dwelling’ will have MULTIPLE rental suites. Seems to be no problem –– except for those folk who want to be honest, who play by the rules. They pay through the nose to register even one rental suite, with Development Cost Charges, inspections for building codes, waiting for approvals and so on.

In Abbotsford, people buy land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, pay the lowest of municipal taxes on it, then set up business operations,… like commercial truck parks, garages, or grow-ops, or whatever business…. and garner terrific cash flows. Because of course, none of those are registered as such, since the ALR does not allow for such operations. All to the good then, because no taxes have to be paid on the revenue, – since the money from Illegal suites, illegal truck parks, flop-houses and criminal grow-ops is not reported to the tax collector.

Legitimate business operations cannot fairly compete with such shadowy competition. Nor do the owners of illegal dwellings contribute to the infrastructure costs of our communal life, such as school taxes, roads, police, sewers, parks, libraries. That tax burden is then disproportionally heavier on the people who play by the rules.

This is exactly what does go on in Abbotsford. And mayors, councils and staff, – past and present – are completely aware of all those illegal uses of lands and buildings in our town.

So then why does city hall enforce rules and regulations, these by-laws that emanate from their august chambers, created by their lofty decrees, on SOME hapless citizens who occasionally depart from these strictures,….. while gently turning their eyes away from a rather large segment of our community who freely make a lot of money ignoring those same by-laws.

Of course there must be laws, and a means of enforcing them. Without them society descends into chaos and anarchy. But those laws must be reasonable, and then fairly enforced.

From my own journey, and that of many others, (most who simply give up trying for a level playing field),… I conclude this disparity of enforcement borders on corruption, in the leadership of Abbotsford.

I believe the fear of losing a significant block of votes, paralyzes our mayors and councillors from enforcing their own laws, equitably across the city.

This election will give the elected mayor and council FOUR YEARS at the helm of our city.

Will there be any back-bone or integrity in that newly-elected board?

And how can I condense this into a glitzy election slogan?

Advertisements