Saturday, April 06, 2013

Battle for Abbotsford Digging up the Dirt: Behind the Scenes Wheelin' & Dealin'

In all the years your faithful scribe has been writing about the misadventures of the dastardly BC Liberals Mike De Jong has been squeaky clean. Heading into the May 14th election, cue allegations (from his chief rival's camp) that he may somehow be involved in some community infrastructure deals in his fair city of Abbotsford. 

Methinks this one has some legs and people are starting to talk. Wonder if the Auditor General has a role in investigating the funding of these kind of multi-level governmental and public projects, which also involves a major non-profit society? Since it will apparently involve provincial funds it sure seems like someone needs to be taking a much closer look at these projects.  

MLA Mike De Jong’s Involvement With YMCA Proposal Questioned

By , April 5, 2013, Abbotsford Today. 

The controversial YMCA project, under consideration by Abbotsford City Council for a gift of $17 million, is one single project to be built on the old MSA Hospital grounds. Many other projects are planned for that area and some of them will proceed with the help of Provincial funding. Abbotsford Today has received multiple and separate reports that Finance Minister Mike de Jong has been attempting to influence the outcome of City Council’s decision by suppressing opposition to the YMCA grant.

Rumours of conflict of interest and backroom deals have plagued this already controversial project which will see the City of Abbotsford give the YMCA 50% of the capital costs of the construction of a recreation facility on the former MSA Hospital grounds. That amount, approximately $17 million, is $5 million more than Abbotsford currently has in its bank accounts.

Last fall, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the YMCA and the City of Abbotsford laying out their future relationship. However, citizens have spoken up in protest of this monetary gift and support for the project seems to be fading.

In addition to the YMCA Recreation Centre planned for the site, a number of other projects have been designated. They include market housing and medical care related facilities. Some of these projects will be built with the help of Provincial funding.

Sources have informed Abbotsford Today that Minister of Finance, Mike de Jong, has approached one, or more, of these groups. He has allegedly stated that if the YMCA does not receive Abbotsford tax dollars and therefore proceed on schedule, the funding for these other groups may go to another City instead of being awarded here in Abbotsford. He allegedly advised one group not to speak out against the YMCA project or risk their own funding.

Abbotsford Today has been unable to find out what interest Mr. De Jong has in the YMCA project, nor why he would allegedly undertake to influence the outcome of its funding. Repeated attempts to contact Minister De Jong have not yielded any comment even though we made him aware of the topic and timing of this article.
Editors Note:
This article was written by Vince Dimanno. It should be disclosed that Mr. Dimanno is working on Independent Candidate Moe Gill’s campaign. Mr. Gill is contesting the election in Mike de Jong’s Abbotsford West riding.  Abbotsford Today received this information and our first duty is to our readers and the citizens of Abbotsford. Mr. Dimanno explicitly chose to write this article so that questions about his connection to Mr. Gill can be answered openly and any conflict of interest allegations answered. Abbotsford Today is a member of the press and as such we have an obligation to report information such as that contained in this article. Mr. Dimanno will also act as the media contact for questions about this article.

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