The top priorities for Abbotsford’s 2021 byelection candidates

Abbotsford voters will elect a new councillor Saturday. We asked the candidates about their top priorities.

By Tyler Olsen | September 22, 2021 |10:00 pm

On Saturday, Abbotsford voters will head to the polls to elect a new councillor.

See how to vote here.

The election has been overshadowed by the federal vote—and the fact that it is taking place long after most other local bodies held by-elections to replace those officials elected to the provincial legislature last fall.

Saturday’s vote provides an opportunity to infuse a new voice on a council. Narrow vote splits on Abbotsford council are rare, meaning the election is unlikely to significantly alter the city’s direction. But in Abbotsford and elsewhere, vocal individual council members have been able to have substantial influence on both city hall, its direction, and their community at large. To prepare voters for the upcoming election, we asked candidates three simple questions: one short answer and two multiple choice.

We’ll feature the responses to the multiple choice questions tomorrow’s newsletter, and add them to this page. Three candidates—Dave Sidhu, Korky Neufeld, and Dan Dennill—did not reply to our questionnaire. Scroll down, or click here, for brief bios of each candidate, plus links to the Abbotsford News questionnaire responses.

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The priorities

We asked:  As a member of Abbotsford council, what would be your top priority and as only one of nine votes and voices, would you do to address it?

Flavelle: The people who live in our streets: A homeless person can cost taxpayers over $100,000/yr in healthcare, policing, and social support. Medicine Hat reduced homelessness to zero. Let’s learn how. AAA Transportation: Abbotsford is designed for cars with few safe options for “active transportation” like bicycles, skates, or scooters. I will advocate for safe streets for all types of transportation.

McLauren: It is about time to streamline and leverage business connections as a business-friendly hub in the Fraser valley and beyond. Starting from zoning regulations to tax policies, existing governmental structures that can be revamped to revitalize a business-friendly environment. Create conditions that attract more business, and support and empower small and medium-sized enterprises.

Tran: My top priority is Homeless and low income worker, I will work hard to help the needy. in the future it safe tax payer money.

Peachey: See the paying public as the EMPLOYER who has the right to know details about where City spends money, and why. Freedom of Information is often ‘freedom from information’. City uses too many reasons to keep business ‘in camera.’ Homeless are being given a green light to camp anywhere and little reason not to steal to feed drug addiction. Housing has to be given to help people who want a hand up.

Norton: Health and wellness of the community is my first concern. Street crime, guns-gangs, circumstances that contribute to homelessness, and supporting diversity and inclusivity are at the top of my list of action items to build a safe, healthy, vibrant community. A Hub Model/Situation Table would be a key strategy to support our most vulnerable citizens – health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Sohi: Housing for all. The City needs to readjust its housing policy to encourage below market rental, market rental and entry level homes to young families. I would use two prong approach—reviewing existing approval regime at the City and seek funding from other levels of Governments. I will work collaboratelly and closely with Mayor and Councillors to ensure serve the City adequately.

Responses have been unaltered, save for punctuation and spacing. Check tomorrow’s newsletter to responses to our two other multiple-choice questions.

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The choices

We asked: The Official Community Plan guides much of what the city does, and what proposals make it to the council table for a vote. The plan envisions a less car-dependent ‘city of centres’ with denser commercial cores, where walking, biking and transit usage is ‘delightful.’ The OCP has rarely been amended since being passed in 2016, but should council do more or less to follow the letter and the spirit of its OCP?

The city is not doing enough to achieve the OCP’s ambitious goals: Flavelle, Norton

Council should feel free to amend the OCP and deviate from its spirit on a case-by-case basis: McLauren, Tran, Sohi

OCP amendments should be rare. The city should strive to achieve the OCP’s principles: Peachey

The OCP is not a good guide and council should rewrite it: none

We asked: Cities are increasingly being asked to provide direction and set policy related to social issues such as reconciliation and markers of support of the LGBT and other historically marginalized communities. How do you view the City of Abbotsford’s performance, as set by council?

Not doing enough: Flavelle, Norton, Sohi
Doing the right amount: Tran, McLauren
Doing too much: Peachey

The candidates

Aird Flavelle: Founder of MSA Computer, now Red Rhino Networks / Has attended nearly every council and committee meeting since 2007. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

David McLauren: Founder and consultant for Multicultural Services and a professional clergy and corporate speaker/diversity trainer in the Lower Mainland. Speaks every week on a TV program called Mosaic Today airing Tuesday 9:30am on JoyTV and Sunday Morning on FaithTV. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Dao Tran: Operator of Abby Bike Shop. Prolific volunteer at a range of community events, churches and schools. Has received the Golden Sprocket Award. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Gerda Peachey: Retired banker and horticulture businessowner, and wife, mother and grandmother. With husband, musically active with friends and seniors. Local activist with long history in Abbotsford. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Tom NortonRecently retired RCMP Staff Sergeant with 35 years of experience. Decades-long record as a coach. Volunteer and fundraiser with Special Olympics and the Canadian Cancer Society. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Manjit Sohi. Operates own building and development consulting business. Involved in sports for two decades, coaching soccer and mentoring youth. Sidhu, Neufeld and Dennill did not respond to our questionnaire. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Dave Sidhu: General manager of The Patrika. President of Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Korky Neufeld: Abbotsford school trustee. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Dan Dennill: Retired small business owner. Abbotsford News questionnaire response.

Tyler Olsen

Managing Editor at Fraser Valley Current

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