Last night the City of Abbotsford took yet another step backwards.
Our civic government voted against the rezoning application from Abbotsford Community Services -- a rezoning application necessary to bring a 20-bed housing facility to life.
The project, aimed at getting men who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless into a safe and supported environment, was burned to the ground by egos, pipe dreams, and private agendas.
Councillors Braun, Gill, Ross, and Loewen stood up for compassion, fiscal responsibility, and the future of our city. Councillors Smith, MacGregor, and Barkman stood opposed to this vital social development.
The final nail in the proverbial coffin came from Mayor Banman. His adamant opposition to the location and other factors sent another vicious blow to the homeless men dying on our streets. As the Mayor's final words fell and the vote was called, the dismay and hurt turned the council chamber into a place of death.
The room became a funeral parlour as Abbotsford Community Services supporters filed out like a funeral procession. Rod Santiago, the Executive Director of Abbotsford Community Services, was devastated; as we held each other in a somber embrace, tears danced on the surface of his eyes. The pain and disappointment in his face echoed the feelings of nearly everyone who serves the underprivileged in our broken city.
Why must our leaders be so consistently blind to the call of justice and mercy? Why must our city consistently violate and victimize the humans living in our alleys and ditches? Is it not time to take definitive action to bring greater resources, compassion, and restoration to our broken city?
When will the cries be heard?