EDITORIAL: Delaying a viable plan

Abbotsford has thrown a public transit initiative under the bus – at least temporarily...

Abbotsford has thrown a public transit initiative under the bus – at least temporarily, since it’s likely to be reversed in the near future.

Recently, regional approval for a public bus that would soon connect Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley was heartily welcomed by those looking for easier ways to get around the Valley.

It was an idea that the Fraser Valley Regional District – on which six Abbotsford councillors serve as directors  – and the City of Chilliwack found worthy of unanimous approval.  But the proposal hit a political wall at Abbotsford council.

Coun. Henry Braun raised concerns about the cost to the city, (Abbotsford would pay roughly $588,236, and Chilliwack about $333,764, while Langley would not contribute) adding that he didn’t think taxpayers were “clamoring for this service.”

The mayor tried to make the plan more palatable by adding an escape clause into the motion, allowing the city to back out at any point. But with the absence of Bill MacGregor and John Smith, who sit on the FVRD board, and the absence of Simon Gibson following his election as an MLA, the decision was left to six councillors.

Mayor Bruce Banman and Couns. Dave Loewen and Patricia Ross stuck to the support they gave at FVRD. But Coun. Moe Gill changed his mind following the presentation, and non-FVRD directors Braun and Les Barkman voted against.

The tie vote defeated the motion and drew the much-lauded project to a halt.

The decision even surprised Banman, who vowed to use his executive powers to bring the initiative back for another vote.

Assuming councillors don’t change their minds again, this plan will be back on track.

Granted, the local contribution is not insignificant, but if it is agreed that getting people out of their cars to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, then this is a viable option that many Valley residents have urged, for a long time.