Mayor Henry Braun touched on homelessness, Abbotsford’s new official community plan, the changing climate and crime, among other topics, during his first state of the city address and mayor’s breakfast Friday morning at Tradex.
Speaking in front of around 400 people, most from the Abbotsford business community, Braun said Abbotsford will see substantial change within the next three years of his term and beyond.
Braun said Abbotsford must embrace its role as a “regional hub,” and change with the world around it.
“We are planning for what the city will look like when we hit 200,000 people,” he said, although he added that there is no time frame when that population target may be achieved.
Braun repeatedly spoke of the importance of the city’s new official community plan and promised that officials won’t approve projects that conflict with it.
“Whatever we do,” he said, “It will align with the OCP.”
Braun spoke on a range of topics, including crime, which he said has been increasing in Abbotsford – and other Lower Mainland communities – over the last year.
He said the top priority of the Abbotsford Police is the “Townline Hill conflict,” which has seen groups of young men engaged in crimes ranging from mischief to violent assaults.
Despite a long dry spell that has prompted some concern about Lower Mainland water sources, Braun referred to a graph that showed water consumption had decreased since Abbotsford voters rejected a plan to build a P3 project four years ago.
“Do we need a new water source? Absolutely, but I think we’re 10 years away.”
Warmer temperatures caused by climate change might also pose opportunities for the city, Braun said, speculating that it might become possible to grow new crops.
On homelessness, Braun said he looks forward to the day when “everyone has a home.” He anticipated groundbreaking within the “next month or two” on the new Gladys Avenue supportive housing project approved earlier this year.
Check Wednesday’s Abbotsford News for more from the speech.