Sun, Jul 27, 2014 at 11:01 PM
Subject: The Agricultural Land Reserve: A rich joke for Abbotsford scofflaws.
To: Andrew Holota , Bruce Banman , mgill , Bill Flitton , bill macgregor , George Murray , lbarkman , Patricia Ross , jgsmith@abbotsford.ca, Jim Gordon , “Dave Loewen (Councillor)” , “deJong.MLA, Mike” , ed@edfast.ca

Dr. Barbara Fischer left Abbotsford, moved out of town,… defeated by the blueberry cannons blasting next door, according to the July 25/14 Abbotsford News. (Below is a copy of her court battle.)

http://www.firb.gov.bc.ca/complaints/farm_practice_complaints/fischer_v_sidhu_decision_with_corrigendum_jun27_13.pdf

http://www.abbynews.com/news/268613422.html

But the cannon noise was only part of her battle, and it is an ongoing battle that shames every mayor and councillor of Abbotsford, stretching back over many decades.

For Dr. Fischer the journey that culminated with her leaving our town began years ago, when the undulating, wet land next door to her property on Lefeurve, got sold.

The new owner, without the appropriate permits began to haul in load, after load, after load of soil, over many months. He flattened the terrain to make a blueberry farm. Then he went along the length of their shared property line and truncated the hillside, sliced off the land to a depth of about 6 feet, right flush to her fence posts. The posts were immediately unstable, and her beautiful horses were in danger of getting out.

The new owner continued his filling and levelling, altering the water courses in the surrounding neighbourhood. Barbara repeatedly asked the city to stop the illegal alterations to the land, all to no avail. So also did other neighbours.

Only AFTER the man had completed all he wanted to do, did the city come in to mitigate some of the damage done to Fischer’s property line. At taxpayer expense the city brought in large chunks of rock to fix the damage to her property, and along the municipal ditch.

That’s one story. (If I have got any detail wrong, and that is proven to me, I will write a public correction.)

Story two. A family along the Fraser Highway phoned the city over and over and over as a neighbour started bringing in countless loads of soil to make the saturated land he bought, into more valuable land. The city did nothing. The family’s front yard got completely flooded, and is to this day. At least 20 trees died. One started to lean towards the power line. At their own expense they had to fix their property.

At OUR expense the city came and did mitigating work on the roadside ditch, as the water flow had now completely been altered.

Ranch Road. An owner there showed me a file almost a foot thick of his efforts to get the City and the Province and the Federal government to stop his next door neighbour, who brought in massive fill, …….shut off a fish-bearing creek, and created havoc on neighbouring fields. The collective response can best be summed up, “You must have mistaken us for a government who cares.”

Fraser Highway. For some five years a man had a commercial truck park on ALR land. He paid a pittance in taxes on some 13 acres, and made a lot of money using ALR land to operate his business. Phone calls, letters, photographs,……nothing moved our leaders to stop this flagrant, in-your-face breach of city by-laws.

River Road. A farmer bought wet land crossed by a deep trench. He trucked in easily 500 loads of soil, although people stopped counting, and they stopped trying to phone the city.

The water courses were altered. River Road flooded with any little rain and became deadly in freezing weather.

At OUR expense the city came along and re-dug the ditches, put in new green pipes and cement casements. Staff said that some fines were levied, BUT that they’d not all been paid. The sad irony here is the ferocity with which the city hounded the poor fellow across the street. This guy now sat on property that was wetter than ever, so he gratefully accepted a friend’s offer of 15 loads of soil to fill the wet spots. THEN the city came down with full power on him. “Remove that soil, or you will pay a hefty fine”

With some serious push-back from people who’d had enough of this galling selective by-law enforcement, the city allowed the poor guy to keep his 15 loads. But the guy across the street,………? Why the city saw nothing, heard nothing, did nothing essentially, and he now makes a lovely profit off the poor land he turned into lucrative land, – all without the bother of city permits.

Fraser Highway. A large asphalt paving company operates with impunity on Agricultural land. Staff told me that sometimes they issue the owner a fine. I asked if the fellow pays those fines. That answer is not always so clear in all of these accounts….and I suggest the answer is negative.

King Road. To this day the owner of a property there has mega illegal suites, plus a variety of structures that he rents out, with hardly a bother from city hall.
Many years ago, the newspaper told us his being ordered, by the city to shut down some of those rentals, but he pleaded poverty, due to a Workers Comp related back injury. So could the city just give him a bit of grace time. That was many years ago. If anything he added more rentals, and now is the owner of other properties. Grant Acheson once told me there were six suites in the large newer home, but anemic follow-up has left the rental operation continue with hardly a ripple.

Not to suggest that staff under the tutelage of Mayor and Council do not diligently ferret out all lawbreakers. Nosireee!! Why there was the case of that nice young couple over in Bradner. They did everything right. Got permits, asked questions. The young woman wanted to bring Dad and Mom onto their property for about 6 months, because her mother had only been given that long to live. The trailer was to be temporary, in fact, as I recall, it was replacing a trailer that had stood near the house earlier. Knowing what we knew about a city literally littered with monster houses many with multiple illegal suites, trailers, sheds, barns and ‘temporary’ workers shacks,…… knowing all that, and then watching this young couple struggle to stop the city from charging them $25,000. Development Cost Charges, was unspeakably disgusting.

Gladwin Road. Many years ago, a farmer brought in, probably thousands of loads of fill. He levelled out the rolling terrain and turned that ALR land into a commercial truck park. Gladwin Road south started to flood. The city response? Send out crews, at taxpayer expense to mitigate the damage caused by altered water flow. The farmer?, Why he operated a commercial truck park on Gladwin for a good long time.

Peardonville. A long-time farming family saw the place next door sell. The new owner created hard-pan for a massive truck park. Trucks began coming and going, day and night, and do so to this day. The couple phoned until they were exhausted. City staff refused to take her calls. Please note, this land was still in the Agricultural Land Reserve, which does not permit commercial truck parks. The family has moved.

One day a trucker friend phoned. He lived within the city proper. He was hurt and angry because a city by-law officer had just come and issued him a hefty fine for parking his dump truck in his own driveway. My friend had a place to park the truck but was sick that day so drove home instead of to his rental lot. He asked the city employee why he did nothing about the numerous truckers around town, who always parked on their own properties, within the city limits. My friend offered to drive the by-law officer to a few of those places. The enforcer declined the offer, but left my friend the ticket.

So my trucker friend took me for that drive, through the town, and out into the ALR lands. I’d already seen plenty of land in the ALR being used for illegal purposes, but this trip was even more of an eye-opener, because he knew them all, AND SO DID THE CITY MAYOR, COUNCILLORS AND STAFF!

I re-drove that route last week. No surprise. All the owners of those places seem to have done very well for themselves. Most of those illegal truck-parks now sport massive new homes.

Are they all replete with multiple rental suites? I don’t know. I do know that there was no question about the houses I once asked the city to check out. But Abbotsfords mayors, councillors and staff seemingly could not see, what was impossible not to see.

As I have consistently stated, my battle has to do with justice, with being fair, with creating reasonable and doable laws for all citizens. This is about having a level playing field, and about stopping the scofflaws.

These are only a portion of the stories that I know firsthand.

There is a very disturbing aspect to each of these true stories. The property owners who flagrantly defy Abbotsford’s by-laws, and who seem to be immune from any serious penalty or deterrent are almost all Indo-Canadians.

That is not a racist statement. That is simply true. I do not say here that all South-Asian folk are cheats. I am saying that when the rules are openly defied, there seems to be little or no enforcement if those violators are Indo-Canadians.

Our mayors and councillors have for too long, deliberately averted their eyes from obvious violations of the laws… laws that they themselves have put in place.

Illegal suites, truck-parks, grow-ops, car repair shops or whatever business that is not registered grants a massive financial advantage to land-owners. No earnings need be reported to the tax-man. No permits, licences, inspections, code to meet. No costly DCCs.

This inverse relationship between honest people, who abide by the rules, and pay all of the above, to those who cheat is exponential. No wonder then that the cheats have plenty of money to purchase more houses, lands and businesses.

And there is no slowing down of this disregard for the rules.

So you leaders, who either by reason of laziness, cowardice or outright corruption, as in, “if I enforce the by-laws, I will lose a very significant block of voters”……, you have pretended not to know, or see, for far too long. If you kept the files of all the citizens who have begged you to act, you would have long ago needed an addition built onto city hall.

Henry Braun has been a rare voice coming from the council. Councillor Braun boldly states that if he is voted in as mayor, he will either enforce the by-laws, or change them, so that there will be a level playing field in Abbotsford, for everyone.

What a concept! I hope that does not spell the death-knell to his bid for mayor of Abbotsford.

But as to the rest of you, will you continue fawning and, grovelling for votes? And if not explicitly, will you by your NON-ACTION signal that law-breakers have nothing to fear from you? There is nothing noble about the way you have evaded the duties that you ask the city to grant you, each election.

Here is the response to my FOI regarding 1717 Foy. Small price to pay, if indeed the fines were paid, for the commercial business operating on ALR land, this past ten years.

https://mail.google.com/mail/?tab=wm#search/1717+foy/14447557dc02f0e3?compose=1477b025900ef14f

In closing, It must create an awful conflict in the heads and hearts of your staff, to know what is right, and what is wrong, and to suppress that knowledge in order to appease the will of their masters.

I am sending this to both provincial and federal elected leaders, not because I am delusional enough to think it will make any difference, but because many times over the years staff have told me they can’t stop the violators. Scofflaws get their lawyers to tie things up, cost the city a lot of money, and if the case ends up before a judge, (so staff say), the judge will most likely throw it out of court.

Well, isn’t that all neat. A few of those costly, time-consuming affairs, and everyone has learned the lesson. Enforce by-laws only on weak, the compliant and the honest people. Leave the rest alone.

You who want to govern Abbotsford, stop your shameful, cowardly avoidance of grossly unfair by-law enforcement. Or scrap them for everyone. Set everyone free to explore creative ways to gain wealth.

Advertisements