Abbotsford is a great city, but we are travelling the wrong road and need to get back on track.
Increase, not decrease in crime: The current mayor has repeatedly stated that our crime rate is down. The reality is quite different, despite the valiant work of our city’s police department, and contrary to what the current mayor says. Our overall year-to-date (Jan 1 – October 3, 2014) crime rate is UP 8%; crimes against people are UP 13%; and crimes against property are UP 11%. Crime is NOT going down.
We need to revisit whether or not we hold the line with the APD. In other words, the current mayor pushed for a hold on any new officers and the police went along with it. Given the upward crime trend line, we need to rethink that decision.
Zero percent property tax rate: In 2012, I made a motion for a zero percent tax rate, which the mayor voted against. In 2013, I again argued for a zero percent property tax rate, which failed. With the arrival of our new city manager, he agreed with my view and we did achieve a zero percent property tax increase in 2014 and now the current mayor is taking credit for something he opposed in 2012 and 2013.
We have to turn the business ‘atmosphere’ around. We must stop the exodus to other jurisdictions and welcome new businesses to Abbotsford without downloading on to the taxpayers of Abbotsford. If we don’t accomplish the forgoing, zero percent tax increases will be more difficult going forward.
Abbotsford’s unemployment rate: It is the highest in western Canada. In September of 2014, the Canadian Conference Board of Canada released a report benchmarking the attractiveness of the top 50 cities in Canada. Abbotsford was the only city west of Ontario to receive a D ranking.
We must remove the obstacles that are stalling projects. Secondly, we need to revamp some of the bylaws that are out of sync with other local jurisdictions. We are losing businesses—and, hence, jobs—to neighbouring jurisdictions because they are organized and don’t hold up projects unnecessarily…delay times are costly. Our zoning bylaw rewrite will help, but the more challenging work is .the OCP update
YMCA: The current mayor voted in favor of giving $17.5 million of your tax dollars, money we didn’t have, to the YMCA.
The only way we could have given it was to delay infrastructure work—infrastructure work that had already been delayed—for five years in order to accumulate $17.5 million over that period of time. We must look forward to our future needs. There is approximately $350,000,000 of work that keeps getting pushed into the sixth year, which is the year just beyond the five-year financial plan.
Pushing this out year after year is not good planning and will one day catch up to us. The only solution then will be to borrow more money, which results in tax increases.
If you want Abbotsford to become the economic hub of the Fraser Valley, please vote for proven leadership – Vote for Henry Braun as Mayor on November 15, 2014.