I have been very interested with respect to increasing the availability of slot machines in Abbotsford.
Some decisions for council are Solomon- like in nature. Rgardless which way the decision goes, some will be unhappy.
However, what has really caught my attention is the rhetoric coming forth from some councillors stating their reasons rejecting the expansion. Coun. Gibson was quoted as saying, “This is not money that was just minted; this is money that comes out of family budgets, out of food budgets.”
Where was his concern for family budgets when he voted in favor of the agreement with the Abbotsford Heat that is costing taxpayers of this city millions of dollars annually? Where also was his concern when he voted to spend $200,000 (it turned out to be $326,000) of taxpayers’ money on a so-called public awareness campaign, that would have made Joseph Goebbels proud, on the ill-fated P3 water project?
Coun. Barkman, while voting against slots, supported an application sending a request for a liquor licence to a public hearing. He stated, “They’re two different issues.”
Is the message gaming and the negative social ramifications are just plain bad, but booze, maybe not so bad? While I would agree gaming and drinking alcohol are two different activities, the negative social ramifications resulting from alcohol abuse are staggering.
In 1995/96, alcohol abuse accounted for 5.5 per cent of all men and women hospitalized in Canada.
Coun. Barkman went on to say that he didn’t want to make slot machines more accessible to people who didn’t have disposable incomes. Is he suggesting by voting against a public hearing on the expansion of slots, but for a public hearing for liquor licence that it is alright to make alcohol more accessible for people with no disposable income?
If disposable income is the problem, whether it’s putting a quarter in a slot machine or putting $5 down for a beer, it’s still coming out of the pocket of a person who probably can’t afford it.
In closing, Coun. Gibson described the requested increase in the number of slots as “radical.” I don’t recall Coun. Gibson ever using this word in relation to the two- to three-times inflation tax increase that council has passed along to taxpayers.
Perhaps these increases are not “radical” enough for Coun. Gibson!
If a young family owns a home in Abbotsford and because of housing costs, mortgage payments, insurance, water, taxes, etc. has little or no disposable income, how do they handle the tax increase our council continues to burden them with?
D. H. Thiessen