COLUMN: New ‘philosophy’ gaining strength

Common sense, if a community meeting in my neighbourhood last week is any indication, is taking hold at city hall.

Common sense, if a community meeting in my neighbourhood last week is any indication, is taking hold at city hall.

For example the notorious “tree protection bylaw” no longer exists in the rural parts of Abbotsford, nor it appears does it apply to strata title residential locations. And for the rest of the community, it has been greatly watered down with many weed trees excluded from protection and penalty fees greatly reduced.

I’d suggest an even further “watering” when the bylaw comes up for discussion at the council table sometime in December. For instance, how about eliminating from protection all ornamental trees – those that are not indigenous and were bought and planted by homeowners. For those who want to provide input into the final tree bylaw, council is, I believe, holding a public information meeting on or about Dec. 10. Check with them for precise details.

Another “it just makes sense” change of heart at the city is the “backing off” of the restrictive (and punitive I might add) environmental plan for Sumas Mountain. Gone apparently are the ‘wildlife and recreational corridors’ across private land, which would have had a devastating impact on the affected properties’ worth and the owners’ free use of their own lands.

Also at last week’s meeting in Straiton, the city even seemed amenable to changing its proposed, and planned, kitchen waste recycling program . . . at least in the rural areas where a great many people already compost, if not for their gardens then perhaps like me who bury the stuff in a dirt pile so that when fishing season arrives I have a ready source of worms to supplement my inordinate lack of skill at luring fish to my fly rod.

However, the singular most important message of the meeting came from Mayor Bruce Banman who said, “We listen and we hear you” (and, I add, act on what they hear!)

That is refreshing, and confirms two things for me: you can “beat city hall” if your case is sound, and council does pay attention to reasonable and proper argument.

It also appears there is a definite change in attitude at city hall, in that bureaucracy is reacting to council rather than what seems to have been the other way around in past years.

I’m not sure if the new mayor has endeared himself to the powers that be in the brick edifice on South Fraser Way, but he certainly has changed the culture there.

And I have to give him, and new councillor Henry Braun, credit for that, because many of the battles that we have faced were created, in fairness perhaps even innocently, during past terms by the other seven members of council.

But changes to bylaws and other actions of the city are the work of all councillors, so to all of them I have to welcome what seems to be a general understanding that, as the mayor said last week, it is time (and there should always have been time) to listen to the people, and react to their demands.

After all, the basis of western democracy as championed by Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address, is: “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.

Nice to see that philosophy is gaining new strength in Abbotsford.

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

A program of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation enables patients to thank their health-care workers.
Fraser Valley program enables patients to say thanks to their health-care workers

Philip Harris Grateful Patient Program offered through health care foundation

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

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

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read