1) Deeper Roots Greater Heights (motto of the District of Maple Ridge)
Q. What does that mean to you and is it reflected in the important day-to-day decisions of District Hall?
The question is well meant. The idea for the motto came about at the time when the District was going through the SmartGrowth on the Ground Initiative while simultaneously dragging itself into the electronic age by updating its website. The current website is a markedly more presentable and functioning tool for District’s inventory of communications tools. The motto “Deep Roots Greater Heights” like so many slogans and mottos has really the test of time largely because it is meaningless. Consequently it is no longer in use on the website and appears to be being phased out (unannounced). If it ever played a role in the important day-to-day decisions of the District Hall (which I somehow doubt it did), it plays none today. It might mean, our roots are deep and we must reach greater heights. Hardly a vision, more of a fact.
Development has played a large part in the lives of Maple Ridge residents, and many of the problems experienced in our neighborhoods are a direct result of rapid development.
2) Quality of life.
Q. Does development improve the quality of life for the residents of Maple Ridge? If so how or why not?
The real question is “can development improve quality of life?” Yes it can. It has also proved to obliterate the quality of life. The are many developments in Maple Ridge that prove development has the potential to improve life for neighbourhoods. If you have hand delivered 7000 flyers to our neigbourhoods you can also see where development has not been kind to neighbourhoods. When the Haney Bypass dissected Haney, it dislocated the community’s spirit in the 1980s. Unless there is a master plan for places like Maple Ridge, development and developers will remain suspect. As suspect as it is across North America and beyond. The mortgage/debt crisis in the US is a prime example of the disastrous effect of poor planning. The relationship of politicians is the stuff of legend, particularly in Maple Ridge. Some – not I – may argue that without developers and politicians working in cahoots, there may not be any neighbourhoods in Maple Ridge or perhaps, even a Maple Ridge.
We all – well most of us – live in neighbourhoods that were the ‘visions’ of developers dating back to the late 1880s when Hammond was developed. I recently walked all the homes built by Portrait Homes in Silver Valley. My knowledge dates back to the original Civitas Plan for the area in the early 2000s. Was this a good development for the residents of Maple Ridge? Other than the fact that the development did not include a single convenience store or coffee shop, it is terrific neighbourhood, upscale and Whistler-like. Jus get some of the commercial lots at the bottom of 232nd happening and the residents would be thrilled. (They told me so).
Well-planned neighbourhoods are great, poorly ones are not.
3) Tax revenues are increasing each year with the addition of new housing but despite this our taxes are going up at a greater rate than inflation. The district financial statements and the districts 5 year plan do not breakout the additional costs of schools, fire, police protection, water and sewage, etc. nor do they show numbers for the infrastructure charges needed to support additional development.
Q. Does development make economic sense? Is it good fiscal policy to continue development without having a business plan with understandable cost attribution? Can you provide details that show that development is paying for itself and is not being subsidized by the taxpayer? Should the developer or the taxpayer pay for the cost of new development infrastructure?
With respect to whether or not developer or taxpayer should pay for the cost new development infrastructure one might say that the cost is already borne by both; the developer through development cost charges (“DCCs”) and the taxpayer from the general account. DCCs were increased a few years back much to the chagrin of the development community. On the other side of coin there are areas that need to redeveloped and invigorated. In areas such as these, Haney for example, developers and property owners are given tax incentives and breaks in order to encourage development. The question is too broad to be answered properly. Any developer will tell you exactly what the DCC plan is; you will find it on the District’s website. It is there for the taking. There are numerous charges and conditions attached to DCCs. In the end the DCC is passed on to the buyer of the home by adding it to the price ticket. Taxpayers’ subsidize everything everywhere. There is only one purse: “ours”. When the 43 unit condominiums go in next to the Billy Miner, they may be slightly costlier owing to the fact that new sidewalks (perhaps realigned) will be included. These will be built by District and paid for new owners of the condos. And yes there will be some service costs passed on the existing taxpayers. Keep in mind that the District will also get 43 new taxpayers.
On property taxes you could observe:
- Half the property tax goes to non-municipal agencies
- The cost of salaries for the mayor and councilors is an average of two or three dollars per household. Taxpayers may have strong feelings on this question, but it doesn’t actually have financial implications.
- If we want to control spending we need to do it in a thoughtful way and look at every line in the annual budget.
- The municipality could do much more to engage residents in reviewing and understanding the budget. For example, how many people are aware that the combined fire and police budget rose by 40 per cent between 2006 and 2010?
- How many people are in favour of reducing the fire or police budgets?
- Fire and police in 2010 represented 28 per cent of the total municipal budget.
- The province is planning to introduce a municipal auditor general function. This will not do a line-by-line policing of the Maple Ridge budget, but it will promote high standards of budget planning and accountability
- Introducing short-term cuts to win political points doesn’t necessarily save us money in the long run. The best example is the decision to cut street maintenance in Maple Ridge streets in the 1990s. This left roads to deteriorate and increased the eventual cost of fixing them.
4) Little thought seems to go into determining how new development will impact existing neighbourhoods. Example: The Alouette Valley has seen a huge increase in dump trucks on its’ streets seeking places to get rid of fill from development properties in Silver Ridge. Properties are being “fill farmed” on the North Alouette River, which increases the risk of flooding in this area.
Q. Is the development planning process being handled well? And is fill-farming an appropriate practice on farmland?
I don’t claim to have a great degree of detail on the Alouette Valley issues, but the association is clearly no slouch in this department. To familiarize myself with the facts I would need to plough through the following short list of documents. I have an idea that longer list exists. The issues in the valley were raised as early on as 1988. What, my question is, has happened over past twenty years or more in that area. I have a friend who is well versed in the issue and will seek his opinion. The short answer of course is that fill farming on farmland is less than appropriate, it is out right unacceptable.
AVA March 2007 Flood Review (Dian and Rosemary) Bauman Engineering Study – March 2007 Event – PDF
Task Force 2007 PowerPoint
Golder Report March 29, 2001- PDF UBC – Flood Plain Maps – PDF BC Environment 1990 – Flood Plain Mapping Study – Link Dayton Knight – 1988 Dredge Report DMR MR Drainage Survey Earthtec 2004 Report Earthtec 2004 Report Diagrams BC Environment North Alouette Study BC Environment North Alouette Flood Picture Appendix 1 & 2 Ken Hemminger on Drainage
5) On the District of Maple Ridge website it is stated that the district supports and promotes Smart Growth, Sustainable Communities and Affordable Housing but at the same time council keeps approving conventional clear-cut one acre developments miles from any shopping or other amenities such as the one on Grant Hill (which is currently shut down due to sediment runoff).
Q. What does Smart Growth mean to you as a candidate for council and can you give us any examples of other towns/cities that to you are good examples of Smart Growth principles and why.?.
Here are the SmartGrowth Principles that I support in their entirety.
All ten principles of SmartGrowth cannot be met in any given community. The idea is to embrace the principles at every opportunity. Utopia is a long way off.
Squamish was the second Smart Growth on the Ground partner community. Squamish is facing tremendous development pressures, particularly as the 2010 Olympics raises the local profile. SGOG Squamish began in Fall 2004, and today the District is putting the results “on the ground.”
The first three community partners are Maple Ridge, Squamish, and Oliver, BC. In 2009, we completed our work in the City of Prince George.
I was on the SmartGrowth project committee and represented the committee in the charette process. Council adopted the final SmartGrowth Report on April 12, 2005 in Council Chambers. It remains a component and key driver in the OCP.
The smart growth principles are:
Mix land uses. Each neighbourhood has a mixture of homes, retail, business, and recreational opportunities.
Build well-designed compact neighbourhoods. Residents can choose to live, work, shop and play in close proximity. People can easily access daily activities, transit is viable, and local businesses are supported.
Provide a variety of transportation choices. Neighbourhoods are attractive and have safe infrastructure for walking, cycling and transit, in addition to driving.
Create diverse housing opportunities. People in different family types, life stages and income levels can afford a home in the neighbourhood of their choice.
Encourage growth in existing communities. Investments in infrastructure (such as roads and schools) are used efficiently, and developments do not take up new land.
Preserve open spaces, natural beauty, and environmentally sensitive areas. Development respects natural landscape features and has higher aesthetic, environmental, and financial value.
Protect and enhance agricultural lands. A secure and productive land base, such as BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve, provides food security, employment, and habitat, and is maintained as an urban containment boundary.
Utilize smarter, and cheaper infrastructure and green buildings. Green buildings and other systems can save both money and the environment in the long run.
Foster a unique neighbourhood identity. Each community is unique, vibrant, diverse, and inclusive.
Nurture engaged citizens. Places belong to those who live, work, and play there. Engaged citizens participate in community life and decision-making.
6) The creation of the Official Community Plan is a product of the astounding resource and wholehearted dedication and skill in our community base. Key recommendations from the OCP are:
– increasing the focus commercial/residential densification in the core
– significantly reducing residential sprawl
Q. Do you believe that the OCP has been truly integrated into the policies, budgets, business plans or development negotiations at the senior staff level?
That will be the day. The term “Official Community Plan” is a misnomer. It would be more correct to call it the “Official Community Rule Book”. While calling itself a plan all it does at best is set guidelines for developers and staff to follow. There is no doubt it is comprehensive. Here again, I partook in the long process. As I said at the (unreported) Thornhill All Candidates meeting, the OCP (or OCRB as I prefer to call it) needs revisiting. Not for the purpose of a re-write, merely a recalibration.
7) The OCP, ALR boundaries, Metro Vancouver Plan, and Maps of Environmentally Sensitive areas in Maple Ridge provide a framework for development which is meant to curtail urban sprawl, preserve our agricultural lands and our green spaces, and protect the environment.
Q. If you are elected to council will your development decisions be guided by compliance with the Maple Ridge OCP, ALR boundaries, the Metro Vancouver Plan, and Maps of Environmentally Sensitive Areas?
Environmentally Sensitive Areas?
To demonstrate my views on the question I quote from the end of my talk at Thornhill:
‘Minutes from the 2006 OCP Public Hearing note the following:
“Betty Von Hardenberg asked that Thornhill be re-designated as rural residential and the OCP define how the aquifer will be protected. She pointed out that on the map it is indicated as Urban and not as Urban Reserve. She advised that the Province has maps that show the boundaries of the aquifers and questioned why the aquifers could not be included in the natural features map. She urged Council, none of whom are here tonight, to adhere to the Livable Regional Strategic Plan.”
My view is that the current OCP is an unfinished work and needs to be revisited.’
8)The OCP is a “living document” and minor changes should from time to time take place. But the incumbent council has tried to make major changes to the OCP. Example: the Pelton farm exclusion application.
Q. Would you support such changes without a referendum? Do you support the exclusion of the Pelton farm from the ALR?
The Pelton Application was mishandled from the very beginning. In 2005 I was a proponent of developing the Pelton Property (much to the disgust of many). I remain a proponent of putting the Pelton Property to work in some way. Not, I might add, in any way remotely the same as the proposal made by the Pelton Family and allowed to go to the ALC. The application flew in the face of the OCP, went against (yet again) the recommendations of the Planning Director and consultants. Yet again, as we now see with the Albion, council and the mayor thought they had it in the bag. They fumbled the ball. Oddly, if had been in a position of influence I could probably have made the proposal palatable to all, including the Pitt Poltergeists as I once called them in the press.
Andrup had a solution but was not in a position to proffer it.
I support a change with a referendum.
By contrast I believe the Pelton Property needs to be excluded from the ALR post haste. It remains my only break with my firm belief that no land should in fact come out of the ALR at all. The Pelton Exclusion remains my one exception. Not having received financial support from the Peltons, if elected, I shall speak freely on the exclusion.
9) The Agricultural Advisory Committee’s mandate includes the protection of agricultural land and resources.
Q. Would you support forwarding all applications for development that would impact agricultural land, farming and resources to the AAC so that the AAC can aid council in their decision-making process?
Yes I would.
Here is how the District describes the Agricultural Committee:
4.2 The Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC)
The Agricultural Advisory Committee has guided the agricultural planning process. This Committee is appointed by Council for the purpose of advising Council on agricultural matters and undertaking and providing support for such activities as benefit and provide for the advancement of agricultural activities in the District. The duties of the AAC include:
a) Develop and implement educational and public awareness programs related to agriculture in the District;
b) Support projects that promote agriculture; and
c) Make recommendations on agricultural policies and advise Council on policy issues relating to agricultural land and appropriate land uses in agricultural areas
10) In successful communities in the lower mainland the direction of development is determined by the people who live in those communities. North Vancouver and West Vancouver (both with limited land base) have successfully pursued goals in development with close consultation of their communities. This is made possible by strong and lines of genuine communication. Municipal staff policy in these communities ensures that public input is integrated, supported in setting and achieving goals for stronger more vibrant communities. Recently, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts has been praised for her style
of leadership and resulting successes for the Surrey community that presented many challenges. Her successes as a leader have been attributed to her;
- high regard for community input and
- will and determination to consistently and efficiently implement community input in real and meaningful ways.
Q. How successful has the District of Maple Ridge been in this regard? Senior Staff Level, Council /Mayor Level?
Awful. Pathetic. Obfuscating. Pretending and pretentious. Guarded. Coy. Irresponsive and irresponsible. Blowing its own trumpet with no one in the audience. I could of course go on, but I think we are clear on that question.
11) Other cities and districts regard the utilization and integration of community resources; that being time, energy and expertise, as being a modern, innovative and creative approach to solutions. Conversely, Maple Ridge communities have approached staff with concerns, possible solutions, and a willingness to community and collaborate. All too often they receive inadequate responses. Many times there seems to be a large gulf rift between senior staff and the community they serve.
Q. What do you feel is at the basis of this persistent problem? Is the rapid pace of development creating conflicting priories and placing too much strain on district staff? How high a priority is it to improve this situation and why? What solutions would you suggest to improve staff community relations?
The District of Maple Ridge – the “Corporation” – runs like a well-oiled machine from the perspective of those who make it run; management, middle management, senior staff and those employees down the ranks. In my 17 years here I have had good moments with staff and moments when I thought throttling some of them may aid my cause.
By training I am a public relations consultant. Much of what I observed in the Hall amounts to public humiliation. I don’t want to come across as a meanie, but some serious enlightenment is needed when it comes to communications with the public, business and the development community. Whenever I make that statement I always have to pull myself up short and remind myself that despite all the frustrations we hear every day about how Maple Ridge treats us, it nonetheless has managed to deliver on many of its promises. So it is a matter of perspective. If you are familiar with the District you will know that they like to be dealt with respectfully. We understand that. My role on Council would be to get the District to return the favour. If I could achieve only that then my 3 years will have been worthwhile. Because I ain’t doing six.
Neighborhood specific topics:
Alouette Valley Association
Recreation Roadway Proposal – The Alouette Valley could become a great resource for Maple Ridge if it were turned into a designated recreational area similar to what has been accomplished in many other municipalities. The area could attract tourists, green business, create employment and increase tax revenues. If you are not already familiar with this initiative please visit. www.avalley.ca
Q, Would you support such an initiative?
I would back this idea to the hilt. I love it. I am 62 but an adventurer who still plays soccer twice a week and surf in California or Hawaii at every opportunity. In my column Radio Haney I strongly criticized Maple Ridge Council for even thinking twice about the zip lines on Fern Crescent.
I fully support things that are ‘different’. So often we hear about how nice Fort Langley is and how cool Whistler is and how hip Newport Village is. Maple Ridge needs to develop its own nice, cool and hip. I know we can.
River Road Association
Older neighborhoods in Maple Ridge have seen exponential rises in traffic volume, especially if they are used as short cuts from East to West. The lifestyles of these neighborhoods have been badly impacted by speeding cars and discourteous drivers. Many neighborhoods have requested traffic calming measures but so far few measures have been implemented. Examples: River Road, Shady Lane 132 Ave. and 224 St., 128th Avenue.
Q. What would you do to help these neighborhoods?
My first step would be to present the problem in a planned, sustained and coordinated manner. As it stands, each neighbourhood is acting NIMYBYesque. What is needed is for these neighbourhoods to act as ONE. That is how to get things changed. Share your problems, experiences and envision solutions as a team or think tank. Then present to our council your proposal to fix the problem. I live in an affected area. You are speaking to the converted.
Everyone has taken notice of the huge 43 Unit condominium going in by the Billy Miner. Check out my (Claus Andro(u)ps) website for details at http://www.ClausAndrup.com. This developer could be paying for part of the River Road development? How about $5000 per unit (the buyers will never notice the additional $5k.)
A much less onerous solution to calming on River Road would be to make it one way (not sure whether it should be east to west or west to east) as this would make it less attractive to commuters trying to avoid the Lougheed and Dewdney. The completion of the Abertnethy Connector would be a priority for me. I quote from the Webster’s Corner All Candidates Meeting:
The common denominator is the Abernethy Connector.
Where is senior government on the funding of this critical road?
We need to know.
If we are going to develop an area plan for Webster’s Corners we need to start now, not tomorrow.
You may wonder how long an area plan takes.
Ask the residents of Albion.
The Connector will invigorate and energize industry in this area.
The Connector will divert heavy traffic and make streets safer for all.”
Silver Valley Neighborhood Association
>Much has been made about creating “complete communities”, yet many developments have gone in without the promised infrastructure. Silver Valley is a prime example. There is only one road in or out and none of the promised shops, schools, recreational facilities etc. have been built.
Q. Does it make sense to push development forward without the infrastructure in place to support it?
<blockquoteIt happens, by coincidence that the first time I ever spoke public in Maple Ridge was in the Scout Hall on Fern Crescent. The subject was the Civitas Plan. Your readers don’t have the time to read my history of involvement in neighbourhood work in Maple Ridge, but I must say this; I prefer development – if we must have it at all – that runs from the river up to the mountains , as opposed to development that spreads west to east along the river and railway track. Many people are opposed to this, but my vision is for north-west development as opposed to west-east. The good people of Thornhill heard me on the subject at their new candidates only All Candidates Meeting.
To answer the question: it does make sense to push development south-north, but it does not make sense to push development where there is no infrastructure.
There is much, much more that needs to be discussed on the subject of Silver Valley – it is an area that I would love to get into in detail.
Since first responding (above) on Silver Valley, my wife Debbie and I walked it today, dropping off flyers in the rain and hail. It was as refreshing as it was informative. The one-way-in one-way-out worked in my favour of course. All I needed was one small sign at either exit to make the point that I had been in the neigbourhood. It was Remembrance Day. It was quiet and pleasant and cool. I spoke with only one couple who were reorganizing their garage. They love it up there. But where is the coffee shop and the convenience store. As it stands it costs gas and time to drive to Coopers on 240th. What sort of life is that? I told them about the Civitas Plan and how all those things should have happened. Then I told them a realtor had told me that ‘the numbers were not there’. How long, I wondered, would it be before the ‘numbers were there?’ Vista Ridge is not called Vista Ridge for nothing. The views through the mist and rain with sun escaping in west are nothing short of biblical.
Shady Lane Neighborhood Association
Cut Through Traffic in Residential Neighborhoods
Q. How will you, in the your role as Councilor/Mayor, prioritize and address the longstanding and acute problems of excessive volume and speed of traffic, and reckless driving, in residential neighborhoods which are the heart of this historic community?
I am a frequent visitor to Laguna, Southern California. The quieter streets are made almost silent by the use of speed bumps that would make Everest weep with jealousy.
The current fad of the yellow thingies does little for the aesthetics of our town. Good old fashioned, vicious speed bumps need to introduced to prevent acute problems of excessive volume and speed of traffic, and reckless driving, in residential neighborhoods which are the heart of this historic community? In Haney I am a founder member of the Port Haney Revitalization Initiative. It is was I who coined the phrase PST which stands for Parking Safety Traffic. Any of the other communities is welcome to borrow the notion of PST from your friends in Haney.