Our mayor has urged us to be forgiving concerning the Abbotsford Heat contract.
Many of us may be willing to do this. To agree that we should forgive, however, is not the same as agreeing to forget. If we forget the lessons of past mistakes, we are likely to repeat them.
One lesson we could all learn from the Heat contract (which grew out of Plan A) is that when city hall wants to spend money on major projects, we should not be so trusting. We need to be alert and ask more questions. The city’s projections may be overly optimistic. According to citizen researcher Lilly Kaetler, the projected cost of Plan A ballooned from $85 million to $115 million.
A second lesson we might want to take note of is that, especially on a money referendum, it is essential that we cast our ballot. According to Kaetler, only 9,815 of 130,000 potential voters entered a voting booth to make their views known on Plan A.
A third lesson, in my view, is that excessive spending by governments at any level affects us all. It means less money for roads, schools, police and fire protection, public transit and the environment. Also for low income housing, the treatment of those with mental, emotional and substance abuse issues. Children of the working poor will likely be poorly nourished, even hungry, due to a lack of breakfast programs.
When governments accumulate too much debt, they have to increase taxes and resort to austerity measures.
We can forgive, but some things we dare not forget. The cost of complacency is high.