As a long-time resident and business owner in Abbotsford, and someone who has seldom wanted to get involved in anything political, I find I am compelled to respond your article “City reverses rezoning of banquet hall.” I was more than disturbed/shocked when I read the article.
I am not an expert on the municipal act and I suspect it does provide for this “reconsideration” by Coun. Loewen. But the action as it is reported sends completely the wrong message to anyone wishing to do business in Abbotsford. It would send the wrong message to anyone, in any business, in any walk of life. And while a search of the internet did reveal other “reversals” in some Canadian cities, I certainly could not find anything about those reversals being done without consultation with the parties involved or publicly airing the intention well beforehand. I’d imagine that this has no precedent in municipal politics in our country.
When the mayor and council approve a project – in this case, the banquet hall– and then unilaterally rescind approval without notice to the proponents, it is undemocratic, unfair and very high-handed. The clear message from council is that they cannot be relied upon to stand behind the decisions they make publicly and that approvals can be rescinded without consultation, notice or discussion. They can also be done without revealing “why” there was a change of heart. This action sets a very dangerous precedent and the worst possible message to anyone wishing to do business in Abbotsford.
I expect Coun. Loewen did his homework prior to the vote and, therefore, should stand behind his decision. The optics of such a reversal of approval suggest that there was some external pressure applied to change his mind after the vote had taken place.
In am not in favour, nor disfavour, of the proposed project and make no comment as to its merit. I am merely commenting on my concern for the men and women who spend many hours and many dollars to develop projects in our city, only to have them reversed after approval has been given. It is impossible for these people to play the game if the score can be changed after the final whistle has blown and the players and fans have all gone home.