Fear Factor Voting – This Is No Way To Run A Referendum

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is”. An old German proverb says it all. Facts, not fear,is the basis upon which to make wise decisions. Leadership that promotes fear as a basis for decision is not leadership at all.

I have openly offered to some key City management and Councilors that if someone can give me some facts that would counter my arguments, then I would be willing to reconsider my “No” position. No one has taken me up on my offer.

In the final days leading up to November 19, when we all have an opportunity to have our say in the government of our City, a fear-based email campaign has been making the rounds. This is a last ditch attempt to frighten taxpayers into voting “yes” to the referendum. Specifically, late yesterday afternoon, the City began circulating a newspaper article dating back to August of 1981, regarding a water crisis in Matsqui (now part of Abbotsford). Curiously, this “evidence” of a potential water crisis has never been raised in its campaign before. Why not? The answer is self-evident: the 1981 facts do not apply today. The 1981 problem was not due to the water supply but rather the capacity of the booster pumps that were needed to get the water to the higher zones. This was a mechanical problem, pure and simple.

Obviously, there is always something to fear; maybe an earthquake rupturing key waterworks, contamination of the water supply, or even drought. If anything, we should fear the most likely cause of any crisis – human error. We have not yet found a way to eliminate that factor. We can never cover off every feared eventuality. That is why we must stick to the facts.

Like virtually every other city in the world, there is no question that at some point in the future additional water capacity will be needed. But there is no realistic expectation that we will “run out of water” by 2016 as has been claimed in the promotional campaign.

Let me be crystal clear, Fire and Safety is one of the most basic services that a City must provide for its citizens. As I have repeatedly stated, we can do without a lot of things, but water isn’t one of them. During the past three weeks, it has been clearly shown on the City’s own data that the City’s water usage PROJECTIONS are over-inflated and bear no relationship to our ACTUAL water usage.


– Our current average daily water use (70 MLD) has decreased by 10% during the past 5 years.

– The current capacity of our water supply system is 2 ½ times our daily average usage.

– If we had a five alarm fire, the water requirements using all five pumper trucks would be approximately 25,000 liters per minute (1,500,000 liters per hour). A five alarm fire lasting for 12 hours would only use 18 ML.

There is no wolf at the door, nor is there one in view. There is plenty of time to make factual-based decisions in anticipating his arrival. We need not be afraid of the facts!