Candidates Abbotsford Mission

Homelessness, housing affordability, transportation at issue for 2nd Abbotsford-Mission debate

Oct. 8 all-candidates meeting hosted online by Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce

Issues ranging from Mission’s housing affordability and homelessness to transportation were all major points of discussion in the second debate for the Abbotsford-Mission riding on Oct. 8.

The second debate was hosted by the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce and focused more exclusively on the District of Mission.

As in the previous debate, Liberal incumbent Simon Gibson

focused on his previous record as MLA, and his ability to bring $37 million in project funding into the riding; while Mission’s current mayor and NDP candidate, Pam Alexis, used her municipal affairs background to re-enforce her party’s provincial goals.

Green Party candidate Stephen Fowler, Conservative candidate Trevor Hamilton and Christian Heritage Party candidate Aeriol Alderking, all emphasized how a third-party candidate would be able to better leverage concessions for the district in either an NDP or Liberal victory.

Fowler, who consistently highlighted climate change as a top priority, brought up the Green Party’s ability to bring in the Clean Air Act working with the NDP.

“It was a monumental movement that started with the Green Party,” Fowler said. “Minority governments do work. I would really recommend people to try and keep the NDP in check.”

“Simon, I think he’s done wonderful service for our community. Unfortunately, he’s hemmed in – the party whip is too strong,” Hamilton said.

Alderking, as in the last debate, said her main concern was the protection of parental rights to protect children against NDP and Liberal policies regarding transgender children, which she compared to sterilization programs.

On the topic of Mission’s homelessness – which has tripled in the last three years, according to the Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey – all of the candidates agreed there more support is needed.

Alexis said that the numbers started rising when housing prices jumped 15 per cent from 2016 to 2017, which caused a great number of people to cash in on their investments and displace renters.

She brought up the data showing the majority of the homeless are from the region.

“They’re from Mission. They have family doctors, they have attachments to the community,” Alexis said. “What’s required is supportive housing … We can’t build fast enough.”

She said the NDP has done more than any previous government on homelessness.

“The NDP government has provided 25,000 affordable homes, which are either complete or underway,” she said. “It’s a 10 year plan.”

Gibson emphasized his record on securing $15 million for an upcoming transitional housing project in Mission, and followed the Liberal Party’s criticism of the NDP’s plan to “regularize or legalize [homeless] camp communities.”

“I want to go on the record as being opposed to that, it’s not a solution to endorse tent communities. We need to get people into proper housing with proper facilities,” Gibson said. “We need to care for those people and get them off addictions and back into the workforce.”

Hamilton said rehab and addiction buildings were needed, and criticized harm-reduction services like the needle exchange program. He also said there’s a greater need for services for at-risk youth.

“We can’t just provide them with a bed and keep giving them needles on the needle exchange and encouraging and enabling the addiction,” he said. “Rehab facilities simply don’t exist anymore, and the mental health facilities that have been shut down – these are things that the government needs to be paying for.”

Alderking said now the problem isn’t just for people with addictions, as COVID-19 has caused low and middle income persons to lose their jobs.

“A lot of these people don’t always fit the programs that are available,” she said. “We need to house people first and then we can get them stable.”

All candidates agreed that streamlining development applications to increase housing affordability was a path forward – with some minor differences.

Protecting the district’s green spaces was important for Fowler, who stated that he’d prefer construction to take place on land previously developed. He said the focus should be on increasing the rental stock.

Alexis said the NDP would continue to work through BC Housing, while looking at other types of housing stock to address gaps.

Consultation with the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board and the development community was crucial for Gibson, who said densification strategies like coach housing and duplexes could be a path forward.

Hamilton said the BC Conservatives have a plan to reallocate one per cent of crown land for private sale and development to increase the housing supply. He also stated his government would provide more oversight over money laundering through the B.C. housing market.

When it came to smoothing out traffic flows along the major transit routes, Fowler was the only one not repeating the promise to widen Highway 1.

“The problem with roads is that you build them and people come in and you have to make them wider and more people come and you end up like Los Angeles with eight, 10 lanes going each way,” Fowler said.

The Green Party candidate said they should be looking at expanding commuter rail on both sides of the Fraser River, and pointed towards the West Coast Express.

Gibson said he would look at increasing bus routes in Mission, getting an intersection with Highway 7 and Highway 11 and creating a bypass for Mission.

As in the previous debate, he took aim at the NDP’s discontinuation of the plan to widen Highway 1 from 208th Street in Langley to Whatcom Road in Abbotsford when the Liberal’s left office in 2017.

“They turned it down. We desperately need new lanes on Highway 1,” Gibson said. “We’re looking at major stresses on them.”

Alderking and Hamilton followed with complaints about Highway 1, with the latter advocating an expansion of the West Coast Express.

Alexis repeated the NDP’s promise to expand Highway 1 from the NDP platform speech on Oct. 6.

On top of that, she has a three-part plan specific to Mission: Removing truck traffic off of 1st Ave, improving the intersection at Murray and Horne streets and looking at a design for a Mission bypass.

She was skeptical over expanding the West Coast Express because of the shared track.

All candidates stated their commitment to completing the twinning of the aging sewer line project, running from Mission to Abbotsford, which has been pegged as a potential environmental disaster if $20 million in funds are not secured for its completion.

BC politicsMission

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Singletree Winery in Abbotsford has opened two domes where customers can enjoy wine tastings and local goodies. (Photo by Megan Ashley Creative)
Abbotsford winery first in Fraser Valley to open wine-tasting domes

Singletree Winery offers two themed transparent enclosures

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road. (RCMP photo)
RCMP asking for help to find missing Chilliwack woman

Mackenzie Ashley-Lynn Gilfillan was last seen Jan. 10 in the 45000-block of Menholm Road

/ Kevin Mills Photo
Thousands participate in solidarity parade for transgender student who was bullied

Cars, horses and even planes passed by the Mission waterfront to show support

An amethyst rock was stolen from Swinstones Granite Shop’s showroom in Chilliwack on Yale Rd. West, and they are hoping it will be spotted and returned. They discovered their window smashed and the purple rock stolen on the morning of Jan. 17, 2020. Here a portion of it is pictured to the right. (Submitted image)
Amethyst stolen from Chilliwack stone shop’s showroom

Window smashed at business where purple rock has been on display for nearly 16 years

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read