Abbotsford Community Development Council to power change

New group formed to address series of social issues

The council hopes to combine the efforts of Abbotsford's community leaders.

A group of local leaders has come together to form the Abbotsford Community Development Council (ACDC), where they hope to spark discussion on important local topics.

The group is charged with generating research, analysis, awareness and advocacy on a variety of social issues in the city, with its founding membership composed of heads of community organizations.

“We know our city, school district, non-profits, university, churches, police and provincial agencies are all working to find ways to improve our community and address social issues like homelessness and poverty,” said council chair Susan McAlevy.

“By creating this council, we can learn more about what each organization is doing, identify opportunities to work together and use the strength of our collective organizations to conduct research, educate the public and advocate for changes when required.”

The current executive includes Adrienne Chan, a UFV associate vice-president; Wayne Green, the executive director of the local United Way; Susan McAlevy, the executive director of the Abbotsford Community Foundation; and Rod Santiago, the executive director of Abbotsford Community Services. The chair position will rotate each year within the executive.

Among the group’s members are Siri Bertelsen, the city general manager of planning; Deborah Gardner, the executive director of the Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley; Kevin Godden, the Abbotsford school district superintendent; Stan Kuperis, the clinical program director of mental health at Fraser Health; Bob Rich, the Abbotsford police chief; Eric Van Egmond, a manager at the ministry of children and family development; and Ron Van Wyk, the director of programs for the Mennonite Central Committee.

This group hopes to work in parallel with many similar councils in surrounding communities, such as the Chilliwack Social Research and Planning Council.

McAlevy says they’re currently directing their effort to plan out priorities for the next two years. The council will meet five times a year, and the executive will meet monthly to steer council work between meetings.

“We want to see results from our work,” said McAlevy.

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