In a democracy, everyone has the right to express their opinions. However, Mr. Bruce Giesbrecht crossed the line of civility in last week’s paper when a personal attack on an individual and a veiled condemnation of a “group” was made by Mr. Giesbrecht and printed in the Aldergrove Star.
He alluded to the organization, which we the writers of this letter, are the seven person oversight committee. We are the Abbotsford Rural Ratepayers Advocacy Group Committee. The general group are individuals of 157 west Abbotsford households.
Our mission is solely to watch out for issues surrounding Abbotsford civic taxation and spending. We have no membership requirements and we field all manners of civic complaints, of which many complaints are considered by our committee to be of the kind that impacts a great majority of rural ratepayers. On occasion, issues such as the north Bradner Rogers Cellular tower make the cut as a topic. In Rogers case, there is a distinct possibility that this large corporation would not pay anywhere near the property tax that any other commercial enterprise would pay in Abbotsford. The committee chose not to formally respond to issues like the Gloucester expansion, in which opinions potentially divide neighbours. Thus at the May 13 Bradner Town Hall, the proposed tower was one of the four featured topics. The other topics were policing, traffic and Abbotsford civic staffing.
Our topic presenters acted in a courteous and professional demeanor and the four topic questions were presented to Mayor Banman and Mr. George Murray in advance so that responses could be forthcoming. As for Mr. Giesbrechts’ comments about Ms. Proudfoot, there was without question, a heated discussion of a topic that this group did not put forward as an agenda item. Having said that, we had warned Mr. Banman that underlying issues of audible bird scare devises and the ALR / Gloucester expansion would most surely surface at the Town Hall.
Please be assured that our committee would never make untoward, rude or racist comments and if individuals in the audience of some 100 people made disparaging remarks, our Abbotsford Rural Ratepayers Advocacy group had no part in that. However, without question, we support any person standing to voice their opinion in a polite and non-abusive manner. The comment Mr. Giesbrecht noted alluding to the Taj Mahal was in fact made by a member at large, and was in reference to the fire hall’s size. The suggestion of racism could not be further from the truth.
Over the past years, this committee has held several meetings with Mayor Banman, former Mayor George Perry, former city manager Frank Pizzuto and current city manager George Murray. Without question, due to successful intervention in the Uplands Drainage issue, our group has garnered a great deal of respect at city hall. We would never do anything to jeopardize our progress with actions such as Mr. Giesbrecht has described.
Abbotsford Rural Ratepayers Advocacy Committee (Daren Alary, Faye Kilian, Peggy Parkinson, Lynda Richard, Don Campbell, Ty Sztuar and Brian Kingman)