Abbotsford City Hall just completed several years and probably a lot of our tax dollars to produce a much self-praised Official Community Plan, complete with much hype and pretty pictures.

However the real Abbotsford, as opposed to their imagined Abbotsford of the future, will in all likelihood continue to lurch on, pretty much as it has done in the past.

People with enough money, influence, power or just plain disdain for all the little laws on paper, will develop Abbotsford their way.  And it will not be pretty.

My neighbourhood has been a lovely place to call home.  There are some exceptions, notably the places bought by speculators who often allow the place to degrade to slum status, because they bought in order to flip for higher profit.

But most properties here are loved and tended.  Back in ’84 our friends sneered at us buying a mobile home, on our own land.  Kind of like, “You’ll be called ‘Trailer Trash’, don’t you know?

After one of those conversations, Richard quietly said to me, “Doesn’t anyone buy a home, just to live in it?”

Despite the concerns of those friends, we have been so happy here.  I guess because of us being low on the status ladder, criminals did not think it worthwhile to bother us much.  We managed to buy here, and the taxes were reasonable.  There are unique features to every property and people find a refuge in their castles in the humble end of town.

Ah, but the times they are a changin’.

Speculators saw these wonderful bits of affordable housing, as they came on the market, and with dismay we saw them gobble up almost every property that came available.

Neighbours say realtors have been at their door too, offering to buy, though the resident kind of wanted to die there and be planted in their back yard.

Some of those realtors have been quite cocky, suggesting that resistance is futile.  “Surrey is coming,” they assert with a confident smile.

But why does our local leadership have to bow before the assertion that Surrey is coming?

Does this mean that Abbotsford, like Surrey, must become wall after wall of monster houses, ALMOST ALL of which are paid for by the lucrative flow of money pouring into the pockets of unscrupulous landlords?  Tax-evasion, under-the-table rent money for illegal suites?

Is that what all your pretty picture Official Community Plan will come to Mayor Braun and your eight councillors?

Four of our councillors got in under the banner of AbbotsfordFirst.  They have a slate of Advisors behind them, so that it is not really them, but the shadows behind them who guide our city.  This slate wanted to number five but fortunately they only managed four, otherwise the shadows would dominate on every vote of importance.

Anyway, win or lose, you, whoever you are reading this article, you can, and will make a difference in your world.  Don’t be deterred by your size, your wealth, your perceived influence,  and especially not the number of your Facebook ‘friends’…..ugh!

There is only only thing to realize, no matter how big the mountain is that looms before you.  If you do not fight, whatever the injustice before you, then you will surely lose.  If you do fight, you might lose too, but it is far, far superior to try.  And on occasion you win. Of course it helps a lot if others also care, and join the foray.  

Thankfully in this fight against the invasion of monster houses, higher tax grabs, dubious by-law enforcement and a radically altered neighbourhood of affordable housing, beautiful trees and gardens,…… to out of price monster houses and most likely illegal dwellings,…… my neighbours do care.  

Below is an email I sent out last night.

Hi neighbours:  I have here ten of your email addresses.  Feel free to use anything I send you to anyone else that you know.  Don’t worry about copyright and freely take anything that might be useful in your own communication with other neighbours or City Hall.

I make every effort to be accurate, but am working with limited access to data.  Had a good long conversation with Nick at the City.  He says there is much misinformation swirling around, though he did not point to anything specific.
But if any of you do see an error in what I write, or have information to share I would be most grateful to hear facts, and to correct any error I’ve made.
So this evening a young woman told me I was wrong to say that K.K. Gill owns the house beside 2090, though she did not know the name of the landlord, so perhaps it still is Gill.  In my conversations with staff I specifically asked whether Ms. Gill would be developing the second property.  Just today I asked Nick if Ms. Gill could meld the two and build an even bigger house, which technically, he said she could.  But no one suggested Ms. Gill isn’t the owner of both.  Two of the neighbours said she owned both, but the one young lady says she does’nt.  So now I don’t know.  But just want to make the point that I might have been in error on this point.
The rezoning proposal sign was installed Wednesday.  It must be in full view and unobstructed for 3 weeks prior to a Public Hearing.  The renter’s white van almost totally obscures the sign when he’s home from work, something I asked Nick about.
Anyway, grateful thanks again to [name], the man who demanded that City Hall stop the process last Monday evening.  So Council must now go through the steps of first and second reading, …(a rather meaningless step since they just say 1st and 2nd in the same breath)  So they will probably recommend the proposal be moved to a Public Hearing,…..again,….but that brings it to September 12th, which is a whole lot better than having had this signed, sealed and delivered behind most of our backs LAST MONDAY!!!!!  

Again thank you to [name] the boy who stuck his finger in the dam.  Now hopefully we can get some cement to plug up the hole.

Today I filled in an application to be a delegate at the August 29 th Regular Council meeting.
Here is what I wrote on my application form, which must receive approval from Mayor and Council.  So it is not a given that I’ll be allowed ten minutes to challenge their seriously flawed process.
Text here was hastily scrawled as all the staff were heading for long-weekend holiday, so no time to make my application perfectly clear;
Flawed and totally inadequate process in place Re: Development Applications.
If ordinary Abbotsford residents were ‘First Nations’ ––––––––Would there be a ‘DUTY TO CONSULT?’
You took an application from ONE land speculator on July 11/16,….granted her a Public Hearing on July 25/16.  Then sent out a few cards.
No Development Application posted on subject lawn.
But for the intervention of [name] – You would have PASSED/APPROVED, one wealthy speculator’s demand – ignoring, indeed not even considering what a massive impact this will have on all 150 residences of the people currently protected by the LUC in place sine 1972.
You – COUNCIL, did not inform, consult, or allow for thoughtful community impact [participation].
Thirteen days to alter our 44 year LUC.  People are still on holiday, who knew NOTHING about this.
I’m challenging your duty to all the residents of Abbotsford to Consult better.
So now we’ll see if my hastily-written application is accepted.
Please again, be assured that I want only for all of us to be able to have TIME granted to us.  There was never any need to rush at us this way.  2024 the LUC is gone for certain.  A few months ago a government fellow said local governments were aiming to have new zoning in place by 2022, but get real,…...13 days in hot July of 2016??
That hasty business was driven by all the wrong motives.
So whether you or your neighbours are ‘for or ‘agin’ – please encourage everyone to inform themselves and engage in this most significant decision.
Certainly for Richard and me, our home is our one monetary asset, and we could not have purchased this even in 1984, had it not been an assumable mortgage.  I love our home and gardens and have met many other residents who feel the same about their home, and our unique neighbourhood.
Neither the City or the Assessment Office will give me an idea of how much taxes will increase, but they do agree taxes might rise noticeably if large houses take the place of our mobile homes.
Good night for now.     Gerda