Abbotsford’s FVRD withdrawal draws fire: Peary shoots back at critics

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary shot back at critics of the city's plan to try and leave the Fraser Valley Regional District.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary shot back at critics of the city’s plan to try and leave the Fraser Valley Regional District.

FVRD chair Patricia Ross issued a press release critical of the move, and inviting Abbotsford council to meet with her board “to explore the city’s concerns about membership in the region.”

“I wonder which side of the table she’ll be sitting on,” Peary said of Ross, who is also an Abbotsford city councillor.

He said Ross receives a $29,000 per year stipend from the FVRD, plus expenses. This is in addition to the $34,700 base pay from the city. He said she is “hardly a disinterested spectator.”

Peary also responded to media reports quoting the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development saying there is no legislative provision to remove a municipality from a regional district, and that Abbotsford cannot become its own regional district.

Peary said the city has already consulted Abbotsford’s MLAs about the issue, and “they are prepared at least to consider our request. They haven’t rejected it out of hand.”

The city also raised the issue of leaving the FVRD with minister Ida Chong directly, and she too has not dismissed the idea.

“It requires a legislative amendment. That’s why we’re talking to the politicians and not the bureaucrats,” he said. “There are legislative precedents to allow this to happen.”

On Nov. 7 council voted 8-1 to ask Victoria for permission to become a single-tier government. Ross was the lone dissenting voice.

A city staff report said the city could save $759,000 per year by leaving the FVRD.

“Our motive is what is the best value for our taxpayers,” said Peary.

He added that governments, like the FVRD which was formed in 1995, take on a life of their own.

“They start adding staff, going out and looking for things to do.”

Ross said the city should be careful what it wishes for, and the city could leave the FVRD only to have Victoria place it within the Metro Regional District.

In that scenario, she said tax bills would increase, and Abbotsford would have little influence at the Metro table.

“We would be such a small voice…”

In the press release, Ross said the FVRD did not receive the latest report Abbotsford used to conclude it could get a better deal leaving the region, and that report was based on flawed information

“The FVRD is a frugal organization,” said the release. “In 2010, FVRD staff conducted a review of the contributions of each member municipality and electoral area and reduced Abbotsford’s contribution by more than $715,000. The average Abbotsford household pays $29.04 annually, or $2.42 a month, which is good value for all the services and benefits we receive.”

A partial list of services provided by the FVRD in Abbotsford includes 911 emergency service, regional fire dispatch, solid waste management, noxious weed control, mosquito control, data collection on homelessness, transportation, agriculture and many other topics, and liaison with the Province in the planning of its services for the region.

“It would make sense for the city to bring its concerns into a constructive dialogue with the FVRD, rather than taking a confrontational approach,” she said. “The city has also not been clear as to why it should be exempt from rules that apply to other members of a regional district.”

Peary was adamant Abbotsford will not be part of Metro as long as he is mayor.

“That’s fear-mongering. We have no intention of joining Metro,” he responded. “That’s not in the cards.”

He said the FVRD provides “precious little in the way of services,” and those could be replaced.

“We can go shopping for arrangements that are more beneficial to our taxpayers.”

He said following Saturday’s election, the new leadership at city hall will plan meetings with government officials in Victoria in January. If re-elected, he would arrange to meet with Chong and local MLAs to discuss the issue, and hopefully secure an answer by February.

“Otherwise, we’ll continue to agitate for changes from within (the FVRD).”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boats in the Fraser River launched from Barrowtown and Ft. Langley on May 12 to search for the missing fisherman. (Steve Simpson)
Boats search the Fraser River for missing Abbotsford fisherman

Anyone with ‘a boat, time, or a drone’ to help bring Damian Dutrisac home was asked to help

Mina Shahsavar is a fourth-year student in the bachelor of science in nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley and is an employed student nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Submitted photo)
Nursing student in Abbotsford plans for career in critical care

Mina Shahsavar inspired during hospital stays as a child

The Canadian Forensic Health Corporation, made up of (left to right) Kirstin Simpson, Adrienne Fershau, Tiffany Kafka, Susan Short and Cole Bruce, are changing the game for the forensic nurse occupation. (Submitted)
Abbotsford nurses create Canadian Forensic Health Corporation

Tiffany Kafka, Susan Short, Kirstin Simpson, Cole Bruce and Adrienne Fershau teaching new generation

A pair of deer were spotted in Abbotsford on Tuesday (May 11) morning. (Submitted)
VIDEO: Pair of deer explore Abbotsford neighbourhood

Resident captures deer duo munching on foliage and then wandering off

A 45-metre cell tower has been proposed on Simpson Road in west Abbotsford. (City of Abbotsford)
45-metre cell tower proposed for Simpson Road in Abbotsford

Installation to be on private farm land near Aldergrove border

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered on remote road near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

Canada’s Janet Leung steals second base during playoff action at the Softball Americas Olympic Qualifier tournament in South Surrey on August 31, 2019. Leung and her teammates have not been back to Softball City since, as the 2020 and now ‘21 Canada Cup tournaments have been cancelled. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck photo)
Canada Cup softball event cancelled for second straight year

Travel, health concerns cited as reasons for cancellation of popular Lower Mainland event

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Fraser Health still unsure if 333 cases of COVID among students, teachers were acquired in school

88 cases of 267 cases the health authority considers to be school-acquired lead to spread outside of school

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Colleen Price, Vancouver Island University’s bachelor of science in nursing program chairperson, says she is impressed with how students have persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Next generation of B.C. nurses already showing resilience

University program head says learning had to be adjusted amidst pandemic

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read