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?
It means to make Maple Ridge a stronger more sustainable community while still going forward. We are destined to grow, and in order to illicit pride in Maple Ridge you should first feel connected like you are part of something. If the roots die the tree dies.
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?
Responsible development does improve the quality of life, and this is evident by looking at the unsustainable little neighborhoods created solely for the sake of development. If you can’t buy a cup of coffee, a donut or a newspaper within one kilometer of where you live, then you’re not building a “neighborhood”, you’re instead warehousing commuters.
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 in the business sector is a necessity so the residential taxpayer does not get squeezed. A business plan better have cost attribution or it’s not much of a business plan. I managed and owned restaurants. You’d go broke in a month without some kind of budget restraints. The residential taxpayer should have a freeze on taxes until we can see a lessening of the burden in the future. As of now, I haven’t seen infrastructure mirror the exorbitant tax increases. I still suggest that giving new businesses tax incentives in the first year is a good plan in the long run, I still remain steadfast in the idea that if you haven’t got the money, you shouldn’t buy it, nor should you vote yourself a pay raise.
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?
No, no and no. “Fill farming” (first time I’ve heard that expression) is just not environmentally sound especially near established waterways where fish spawn. Who is taking into account safe dumping practices? We are developing in areas that are sensitive and setbacks from streams and rivers must be adhered to. There are fifteen pages of regulations and they should be there for a reason.
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 using the space available in a responsible, sensible, and sustainable way taking into account specific neighborhood requirements. Port Moody has a town centre that makes shopping, and living in the downtown core easier and more accessible than most small towns. I am in a wheelchair so accessible is more than just a trendy political catchword. In Cornwall Ontario (I opened a restaurant there) they have all the downtown malls accessible by walkways or paved pathways. It looks much like Maple Ridge would look like if you were to only allow foot traffic only on 224th. In a perfect world every developer who plans on building apartments or condos should be specifically forced to build transitional subsidized suites that can be affordable alternatives for the aged or disabled population that is being forced to live away from community and family.
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?
To some degree yes. But the next three years will probably be the most crucial development years to come with the Albion Flats being one of the main areas as well as the town core, which is being dismantled as we speak. I would rather see planning for the future than play catchup on a day to day basis. We do need to reduce residential sprawl.
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?
Yes it will guide my decisions, but I’m not committed to these boundaries ad infinitum. A growing community must change with the times.
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 the Pelton farm is unique in that it has a major thoroughfare running right through its backyard, but for the time being it just doesn’t make sense to exclude it from the ALR. A referendum would be the only responsible way to go. It’s a very divisive issue. Bottom line, no I don’t support 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?
Again I find this falls into the realm of common sense if it is a large parcel of land that has environmental issues, but I would not ask for their help on a simple decision like building a barn on someone’s hobby farm.
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?
As my kid would say, “Epic fail on all fronts”. This council drags it’s feet more often than not.
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 basis of this problem is arrogance. The same tired council gets trotted out at every election. If you want good communication, elect good communicators. An open door and an accessible candidate are a must. This is not a part-time job, and I think we are always putting out little fires which make us ignore the bigger ones.
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 wholly support such an initiative. I grew up on Dogwood Ave (29th road in the old days) so I feel like this area is particularly sensitive. The fish stocks and species has dwindled considerably in the last forty years. It’s shameful.
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?
These neighborhoods became thoroughfares directly from bad planning. There has to be bypass roads that don’t infringe on local residents. Speed bumps might be one idea as far as slowing traffic down. I appreciate the quiet almost wilderness quality of Shady Lane (Lovers Lane) and River Road was never designed for speeding cars. Alternate routes are an alternative that must be fully explored.
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?
Silver Valley was a boondoggle right from the start. Anytime you get a sustainable neighborhood it gives you a sense of pride in your immediate community, and Silver Valley is a long way from being “complete”. Yennadon School (my old alma mater) is already overcrowded, The corner grocery/gas station is not a shopping centre and neither 232nd nor Fern Crescent is meant to be a commuter traffic route.
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
You have to first address the urban sprawl through good development practices and their must be alternative routes specifically designed to bypass the heart of the community. Put speed bumps and traffic cams up and ticket the offenders who abuse the privilege.