Dana Lang

Vision:
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?

Deeper Roots Greater Heights is a great motto it’s the epitome of Maple Ridge. This means we have to look to our past before we proceed with future decisions. We need to do what is best for the people of Maple Ridge as we are servants for the public. This motto would be lost if we didn’t respect the environment we live in. We can achieve great things for all while protecting our environment.

Residential Development:
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?

Yes good development does improve the quality of life for the residents of Maple Ridge and the environment. When development is done right it benefits us all. A development should be for the better of the existing residents and an asset for the environment. Maple Ridge needs controlled downtown density as this would stop urban sprawl, and cut down on farm land speculation. We need to develop eco tourism that has low impact on our watershed; this will bring in money to our local economy and protect what we have. We need to encourage High-Tec and corporate offices to relocate or set up satellite business in our light industrial areas. This would cut down on commuter traffic have low environmental impact and provide “family supporting jobs”
Bad development on the other hand is costly to us all. We have lots of examples in Maple Ridge. The cost of urban sprawl to us is a loss of farmland and forests. Developments with no sidewalks connecting to main streets, no transit, and no schools close by, increased commuter traffic that causes oil and gas run off into our streams and tributaries. Poor development causes land erosion that affects the residents’ around them and cannot support the new houses that are built on them. Urban sprawl does not help with land taxes; it actually increases them as we need to pay for more infrastructures to support them. Council needs more interaction with residents because new development affects residents personally and financially. It is not in the best interest of council to have a short sighted view and only look at the quick money as we all end up paying more for it in the long run.

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?

Development does make economic sense when we look at and respect the OCP and ALR as well as communicating with the residents that will be personally affected by the development. There is more to it than the bottom line. We need developments that will be embraced by the community and not cause rifts among neighbours. It is not good fiscal policy to have a development without a business plan.. Not only should there be a business plan for medium and large developments they should be available to the public and accountable to the public if there are cost overruns. I believe all developments are being subsidized in one way or another by the tax payer. The developer should pay for the new development infrastructure as he will receive large dividends when the development is completed.

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?

Right now the planning process seems to be all about short term financial goals without looking at the long term affects on the community, environment, and taxes. Certain types of developments need to be in certain parts of the town, it only makes sense.

Fill-farming is not an appropriate practice of farming. In the recent past there was a farm practicing fill farming and it took way to long for the municipality to re-act. It took several news paper articles to get the Municipality to take action, by that time environmental damage had occurred.. Pathetic.

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.?.

Smart growth means to me exactly that, smart growth. We need to have controlled downtown density; I don’t think we need towers 25 storeys tall, maybe 10 to 12 storeys as we are not a major city. We need suburbs for families close to town so they can shop, work, and play. We need our existing light industrial areas to be utilized to their full potential so that they can provide family supporting jobs. We need hobby farms and large farms to provide local jobs and food sources for residents. We need to protect our watersheds as they are benefit to us in countless ways.

As an outsider looking in I think that Fort Langley, Whistler and North Vancouver practice smart growth principles. They may not be perfect but it seems that they work with and protect their natural assets.

OCP
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?

Short answer, no

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?

Absolutely, there is too much at stake to do otherwise. Development should only be in areas where it is cohesive with the existing setting. Developments should be embraced by the community especially it’s direct neighbors.. Council needs to listen to the residents as they are the ones affected by poor planning. We are only to gain with planning that makes our downtown vibrant, our farms viable and leaves our forests vast.

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?

I think a referendum is needed if there is a major change to the OCP. This can be done cost effectively buy having referendums consist with municipal elections. I do not support major changes to the OCP and I feel we can create a great community within its guidelines

I do not support the exclusion of the Peltons farm from the ALR. This farmland is viable and needs to be used to its full potential.

Municipal District

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?

Definitely. The AAC would be able to give professional input and aid council with its decision process. It is always good to glean as much information as possible so that an educated decision can be made.

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?

Maple Ridge’s senior staff, council and mayor can do better. We need close consultation with residents so that each neighborhood can maintain its unique character. We need to listen to neighborhoods as they are not totally against development and there are some things they need to enhance their community ie; Albion Hall. As a councilor I will advocate for public input, because we need to build this town together.

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?

We need more open lines of communication between Maple Ridge communities, senior staff and council. Neighbourhood associations have valuable concerns that should not be ignored. There are several factors as to why senior staff is having a hard time dealing with the public. I do believe that they are under stress dealing with the pressure from developers and land holders with speculation properties. There are certain groups of people who also put pressure on senior staff and council regarding developments and amenities that they feel are lacking in Maple Ridge. I to have contacted staff and got the feeling that I was wasting their time, this is a shame as I have a vested interest in this community The willingness to communicate and collaborate is a benefit to all parties involved. We need more open door meetings and roundtable discussions with all parties involved. Large and medium developments should have more than just public input at council meetings. Neighbourhod consultation should be a mandatory part of the development process of large to medium developments before it reaches council chambers.

Absolutely. This would be a great asset to Maple Ridge! We need more creative ways to link our community besides just driving. It would draw tourists from all around.. We could capitalize on the people coming in to camp at Golden Ears. We need to develop our eco tourism this would be a benefit to all. In Ridge Meadows there are many great examples of farmers selling direct to the public, Laity Pumpkin Farm, Hopcott Meats, Golden Ears Cheese Works Alouette Tree Farm, just to name a few.

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?

Absolutely. This would be a great asset to Maple Ridge! We need more creative ways to link our community besides just driving. Tt would draw tourists from all around.. We could capitalize on the people coming in to camp at Golden Ears. We need to develop our eco tourism this would be a benefit to all. In Ridge Meadows there are many great examples of farmers selling direct to the public, Laity Pumpkin Farm, Hopcott Meats, Golden Ears Cheese Works Alouette Tree Farm, just to name a few.

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?

We need to control the traffic in these neighbourhoods for two reasons. The first reason is they are residential streets and the home owners cannot enjoy their front yards because of the noise, air pollution and safety concerns, they deserve what the rest of us enjoy. The second reason is that they are residential roads and cannot handle the volume of cars that are on them. This increases our taxes as we have to routinely repair these roads due to excessive use. We need resident input to find solutions and look at what other municipalities have done in this situation. I know that this has been an ongoing problem and it needs a solution without further delay.

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?

Infrastructure must be put in place before development. Time and time again we see large developments pushed through with promises like transit, sidewalks connecting to main routes, schools, environmental building practices, shops and community parks. These promises are often never fulfilled and this leaves the new home owners frustrated as their house is too far away from local amenities. We all end up paying for this in the end.

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

Shady Lane is beautiful and needs to be protected from excessive traffic. We need to consult with the residents to find solutions to this matter. We need to provide better transit as this will elevate traffic and encourage drivers to use Dewdney and Lougheed. We could look at closing off one end of Shady lane and making it a no thru road. Having bump outs from the curb could be another idea as it does slow traffic down, also signs at either end stating local traffic only. I don’t know if speed bumps or a centre roundabout is practical but it might be something to look at.

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