Candidates Abbotsford Mission

Homelessness, housing affordability, transportation at issue for 2nd Abbotsford-Mission debate

Oct. 8 all-candidates meeting hosted online by Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce

Issues ranging from Mission’s housing affordability and homelessness to transportation were all major points of discussion in the second debate for the Abbotsford-Mission riding on Oct. 8.

The second debate was hosted by the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce and focused more exclusively on the District of Mission.

As in the previous debate, Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson

focused on his previous record as MLA, and his ability to bring $37 million in project funding into the riding; while Mission’s current mayor and NDP candidate, Pam Alexis, used her municipal affairs background to re-enforce her party’s provincial goals.

Green Party candidate Stephen Fowler, Conservative candidate Trevor Hamilton and Christian Heritage Party candidate Aeriol Alderking, all emphasized how a third-party candidate would be able to better leverage concessions for the district in either an NDP or Liberal victory.

Fowler, who consistently highlighted climate change as a top priority, brought up the Green Party’s ability to bring in the Clean Air Act working with the NDP.

“It was a monumental movement that started with the Green Party,” Fowler said. “Minority governments do work. I would really recommend people to try and keep the NDP in check.”

“Simon, I think he’s done wonderful service for our community. Unfortunately, he’s hemmed in – the party whip is too strong,” Hamilton said.

Alderking, as in the last debate, said her main concern was the protection of parental rights to protect children against NDP and Liberal policies regarding transgender children, which she compared to sterilization programs.

On the topic of Mission’s homelessness – which has tripled in the last three years, according to the Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey – all of the candidates agreed there more support is needed.

Alexis said that the numbers started rising when housing prices jumped 15 per cent from 2016 to 2017, which caused a great number of people to cash in on their investments and displace renters.

She brought up the data showing the majority of the homeless are from the region.

“They’re from Mission. They have family doctors, they have attachments to the community,” Alexis said. “What’s required is supportive housing … We can’t build fast enough.”

She said the NDP has done more than any previous government on homelessness.

“The NDP government has provided 25,000 affordable homes, which are either complete or underway,” she said. “It’s a 10 year plan.”

Gibson emphasized his record on securing $15 million for an upcoming transitional housing project in Mission, and followed the Liberal Party’s criticism of the NDP’s plan to “regularize or legalize [homeless] camp communities.”

“I want to go on the record as being opposed to that, it’s not a solution to endorse tent communities. We need to get people into proper housing with proper facilities,” Gibson said. “We need to care for those people and get them off addictions and back into the workforce.”

Hamilton said rehab and addiction buildings were needed, and criticized harm-reduction services like the needle exchange program. He also said there’s a greater need for services for at-risk youth.

“We can’t just provide them with a bed and keep giving them needles on the needle exchange and encouraging and enabling the addiction,” he said. “Rehab facilities simply don’t exist anymore, and the mental health facilities that have been shut down – these are things that the government needs to be paying for.”

Alderking said now the problem isn’t just for people with addictions, as COVID-19 has caused low and middle income persons to lose their jobs.

“A lot of these people don’t always fit the programs that are available,” she said. “We need to house people first and then we can get them stable.”

All candidates agreed that streamlining development applications to increase housing affordability was a path forward – with some minor differences.

Protecting the district’s green spaces was important for Fowler, who stated that he’d prefer construction to take place on land previously developed. He said the focus should be on increasing the rental stock.

Alexis said the NDP would continue to work through BC Housing, while looking at other types of housing stock to address gaps.

Consultation with the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and the development community was crucial for Gibson, who said densification strategies like coach housing and duplexes could be a path forward.

Hamilton said the BC Conservatives have a plan to reallocate one per cent of crown land for private sale and development to increase the housing supply. He also stated his government would provide more oversight over money laundering through the B.C. housing market.

When it came to smoothing out traffic flows along the major transit routes, Fowler was the only one not repeating the promise to widen Highway 1.

“The problem with roads is that you build them and people come in and you have to make them wider and more people come and you end up like Los Angeles with eight, 10 lanes going each way,” Fowler said.

The Green Party candidate said they should be looking at expanding commuter rail on both sides of the Fraser River, and pointed towards the West Coast Express.

Gibson said he would look at increasing bus routes in Mission, getting an intersection with Highway 7 and Highway 11 and creating a bypass for Mission.

As in the previous debate, he took aim at the NDP’s discontinuation of the plan to widen Highway 1 from 208th Street in Langley to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford when the Liberal’s left office in 2017.

“They turned it down. We desperately need new lanes on Highway 1,” Gibson said. “We’re looking at major stresses on them.”

Alderking and Hamilton followed with complaints about Highway 1, with the latter advocating an expansion of the West Coast Express.

Alexis repeated the NDP’s promise to expand Highway 1 from the NDP platform speech on Oct. 6.

On top of that, she has a three-part plan specific to Mission: Removing truck traffic off of 1st Ave, improving the intersection at Murray and Horne streets and looking at a design for a Mission bypass.

She was skeptical over expanding the West Coast Express because of the shared track.

All candidates stated their commitment to completing the twinning of the aging sewer line project, running from Mission to Abbotsford, which has been pegged as a potential environmental disaster if $20 million in funds are not secured for its completion.

BC politicsMission

Just Posted

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Abbotsford this weekend, May 15 and 16. (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival takes place in Abbotsford

Event runs May 15 and 16 at Tradex, featuring 12 trucks each day

Mandarin Garden in Abbotsford had two event tents set up for outdoor dining. One of the tents, valued at more than $5,000, was stolen early Friday morning (May 14). (Submitted photo)
UPDATE: Dining tent stolen from Abbotsford restaurant is located

Owner says it would have cost more than $5,000 to replace the rented event tent

Chilliwack prolific offender Brian Stephan was wanted in late April 2021, but was arrested and charged after allegedly stealing a vehicle in Mission on May 5 and resisting arrest in Chilliwack. (RCMP file)
Wanted Chilliwack prolific offender arrested yet again

Brian Stephan allegedly stole a vehicle in Mission, committed a B&E, resisted arrest in Chilliwack on May 5

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

The new emergency department at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre is slated to open June 8. (Screenshot from Province of BC video)
Expanded emergency department slated to open in June at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Project cost $15 million with an additional $1.25 million donated for equipment

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Mike Farnworth, pre-pandemic. (File photo)
Surrey Police recruitment not distracting cops from shootings, Farnworth says

‘That’s simply not the case,’ Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth told the Now-Leader on Friday

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

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