Residents spooked by Plan A

Many Abbotsford residents are “spooked” by Plan A. Before that we were “spooked” by having been walked right to the brink...

Re: Andrew Holota’s column, Nov. 4.

Many Abbotsford residents are “spooked” by Plan A. Before that we were “spooked” by having been walked right to the brink of the near disaster we know as Sumas Energy 2 by the mayor and council of the day.

It was the monumental effort from a few local heroes including Patricia Ross, not city hall, which stopped SE2.

As many of us remember, SE2 reneged on its share of the cost of the sewer and we’re paying for that just as we are now subsidizing “our” money losing hockey team.

There is at least one common denominator in these situations. Despite the generous compensation city hall pays to lawyers and consultants on our behalf, we emerge with a reasonable expectation that council may well walk us into yet another contract that protects the other party better than it does us.

After all, how often do we see anyone on council with business acumen and experience comparable to that of negotiators for a multinational company?

With a water project of this magnitude and complexity what reason is there to think council’s performance will be any more effective than it has in the past?

While I’m not personally opposed to P3 arrangements, one way in which we are vulnerable is through the confidentiality a contractor argues is necessary to protect their bidding and business practises.

Potentially, everything about the contract will be confidential and closed to us.

However, protections afforded a contractor’s need for competitive advantage, real or exaggerated, is less a concern than the collateral protection mayor and council inherit from oversight of their errors and accountability by agreeing to confidentiality.

Council claims long ago to have seen and been preparing for what they themselves call a now urgent and critical need for a new water source. Nevertheless, a priority was put on Plan A. Can anyone imagine Plan A surviving a referendum today had this $300 million millstone been laid on our necks first? Not I!

So, how are we to perceive them? Incompetent? They’re just so limited in foresight that mistakes happen? Ah well, learn and move on. Manipulative? It’s ingrained in human nature, we all need to keep ourselves accountable. Both? No surprise. But since we have a chance here to avoid a horrendous debt load it’s worth considering that our people at city hall are also just so limited in imagination that all they see is a big problem that simply has to have a big solution. Naturally enough a big solution can mean only one thing, throw big money at it, it’s always worked before.

To answer Mr. Holota, a workable alternative to the debt enslavement this project will impose does exist. A no vote will merely force city hall to reflect on the interests of the Abbotsford taxpayer, possibly to reopen for business on our terms, not the simplistic spending habit they’re accustomed to.

Gennie Adair

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