Abbotsford, the fifth largest city in BC, has been deemed the best place to work, live and play (by who, I’m not sure). The self-appointed “Raspberry Capital of Canada,” is also known as the idyllic “city in the country.” It is nestled in the Fraser Valley Coast mountain range, with Mt. Baker looming ominously behind the Wal mart and Home Depot. A generic town with over 96 churches and just as many marijuana grow operations, Abbotsford is home to an eclectic blend of Indo-Canadian blueberry farmers, pot-smokers, UN and Red Scorpion gangstas and holier than thou Mennonites praying for the rest of us.
Last week, Abbotsford was named as one of the top five cities in Canada for drug crime rates in 2007, but we are just being awarded this title now, courtesy of a Statistics Canada study. Abbotsford placed fourth in the contest with 393 reported drug crimes per 100,000 people, totally kicking Gatineau’s sorry ass with a lazy effort of 383 drug offences. Vancouver, Victoria and Trois-Rivieres rounded out the stiff competition giving the province of BC an outstanding podium finish, almost Olympic in nature.
Interestingly, an article in the weekend Globe & Mail indicated that BC has become a home away from home to an estimated 3,000 ‘temporary residents’ avoiding criminal charges elsewhere. Last year Vancouver Police responded to this province-crasher number with a combative program dubbed “Con Air,”which has seen 50 of these honeymooning fugitives flown back to their jurisdictions to face outstanding warrants. Westjet seat sale? What will become of the 2, 950 that remain, jacking up our Stats Canada rankings unfairly? How come I have to pay upwards of $600 to fly home at Christmas? I want a Con Air ticket!
Taking the prestigious drug-related crime crown for 2008 and 2009 can only be expected after Abbotsford’s rash of gang turf murders that peppered the front page of papers across the country earlier this year. Now that the shooting match is over, the real news is able to make headlines again. Like the recent 48% voter turn-out in the BC election. Or news that a proposed 28 storey tower (that would have become Abbotsford’s tallest building) was shot down by city council due to the “shadowing impact.” Sun-loving residents protested the shadowing effect of “The Mahogany at Mill Lake.” So, no 5 o’clock shadow for the townsfolk of Abbotsford. Our tallest buildings peak at 16 storeys allowing us to enjoy an uninterrupted view of low-lying rain clouds in a 360 degree angle. The shadow boxers win!
But there are other clouds hanging over this angelic Bible-loving city. Clouds of smoke.Tim Felger, Abbotsford’s notorious marijuana activist (and unsuccessful political candidate on more than 10 occasions), was arrested yet again, this time on one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, and six counts of trafficking. Felger was fined $210,000 in 2006 for his “medical grow” of more than 2,000 plants. Yesterday, “CameronJulia”commented on the arrest of Felger in The Abbotsford News online.CameronJulia wrote:
Don’t the police have better things to do like investigating murders, busting meth labs and reducing car theft? When has smoking marijuana ever hurt anyone? Marijuana is a plant God made…cocaine, heroine and all those nasty drugs are chemicals that man made with kitchen cleaners like bleach, Comet, dishwashing detergent and whatever else. Inhaling the smoke from a natural plant is not even comparable to snorting or injecting these harmful chemicals. So why is it banned along with the real drugs?
God made marijuana? Was that on the seventh day? Somebody must have used that page as rolling paper in the copy of the Bible I read. What I do know for certain is that Tim Felger’s political supporters and fans of pot-smoking wouldn’t complain about the shadow effect of The Mahogany. They’d be too busy making shadow puppets of cute bunnies on the walls of their apartments with the blinds drawn while inhaling plants of God and Doritos.
In other ironic Abbotsford news, the Minister of Public Safety and Liberal MLA elect, John van Dongen, was placed on driving probation for four months. His ban on driving was issued after too many speeding tickets. Solicitor General Van Dongen agreed to take a defensive driving course and kindly asked Premier Campbell to reassign his duties with the Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and ICBC (The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia). Van Dongen decided not to appeal because he wants to take responsibility for his actions.
Gurcharan Singh Dhaliwal was not so receptive to taking responsibility for his actions. A week before the election The Abbotsford News and several other media outlets received an anonymous copy of a 2005 court sentencing report indicating a 2004 drug trafficking conviction for the BC Conservative candidate, Dhaliwal. Because he was a late addition for the election campaign, the party didn’t have time to run a background check on him. Instead of acknowledging or denying the charge, Dhaliwal took a defensive stance in an effort to declare the court document “illegally obtained.” He still received a 1,000 votes.
As for being the best place to work, live and play, the jury is still out. If you love God, rain, pot, the mountains and raspberries, I suppose Abbotsford would be considered a utopia. Just be careful that the Minister of Public Safety doesn’t mow you down at the crosswalk at high speeds. And if you’re buying drugs, make sure your source isn’t a political candidate, because you might end up in the headlines of The Abbotsford News.