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?
My interpretation of this statement in relation to day-to-day decisions is that we need to consider the well being of the community as a whole. If we are to progress we must ensure we have a strong and stable core, that the root must be strong enough to support the trunk and branches.
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?
I feel that some development does and some doesn’t. Developments located within the urban boundary where it connects pockets, utilizing non-farmlands and non-green spaces, close to the core, would improve the quality of life, because they begin to densify the area. The ones outside the urban area drain our resources and increase our capital spending. Property owners pay for the upgrade cost that do not provide any benefit to them.
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?
We’ve been contributing towards a large sum of liquid assets earmarked for capital projects and infrastructure upgrade, this sum is based on a projected increase in population. In other words, is it necessary for us to save more than 100 million when our operation budget is only 87million, and continue to transfer our surplus into savings when the people in this community are facing gas tax increases, decreasing property values and possible joblessness? If I am elected I would demand a clear statement showing the cost of development and determine what is the cost relating to these developments that are hidden and put on the backs of the tax payer.
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 agree that not enough planning and enforcement are put into residential development process, My first hand experience are the problems Rock Ridge created, where run offs contributed to the Alouette Rivers. And allowing development to an area where connecting roads are not established puts pedestrian and cyclist at a safety risk in having to share the road with large dump trucks. As for Farm filling we need to make the ALC aware of the implication of this practice near environmentally sensitive areas and recommend a ban until proper guidelines and policies are in place to make sure we don’t create flooding, destruction of habitats, and contamination
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.?.
There are many success stories of smart growth even before the word was used. The idea is to control the growth where you have balance between core densities and sub urban and rural, transportation corridor acts as a backbone. Many example of smart growth are found at www.nrdc.org/reference/topics/smartgrowth.asp
You will find that all of the success stories stems from leadership focusing on a clear vision of their community.
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?
The district is attempting to follow the guide lines of the OCP but neglecting the time line factor. My analogy is that the OCP is a shopping list, on the list it calls for a horse and a cart. The logical thing to do is to put the horse in front, but we seems to have put the cart in front because we can’t figure out how to move the horse.
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. These boundaries and designation may not please everyone, but we can not break the rules just to accommodate individuals or special interest group. I would not consider any alteration unless it is proven to be beneficial to the community as a whole with no impact on the environment or any future considerations.
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?
As stated in the previous question; I would not consider any exclusion or changes unless is it in the best interest of the community. In this case the argument of commercial space are needed is not a strong enough argument to for me to even consider a referendum when we have much commercial options in the core area and well as the current industrial area.
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, an open dialogue and good partnership can benefit all.
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?
In the recent Years Christine D from the district has be the key facilitator in promoting and working with community groups. I volunteered for 12 other organizations and not once did a council member attend meetings, with the exception of Art council and parks board but, I don’t consider these to be community organization. As councilor I will continue to contribute volunteer time at the hands-on level to foster neighborhood group and community organizations
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 municipality must first embrace the fact that we have creative, smart and professional people living in this community and their collective advice and recommendations holds the highest regard. It may also saved hundred of thousands of dollar in studies and consultant fees. Now that councilors have increased their wages more of their time should be put into proactively engaging and communicating with community and neighborhood groups. And if there isn’t one, start one. I would personally attend as much group meeting as possible and find the people to create more neighborhood groups. And allocate more resource to keep these group active.
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, and I will give myself a goal to make it a reality within 2 years.
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?
I volunteered with the RCMP as Aux Constable because my community’s safety and security is my highest concern. I will put traffic calming measure at a high priority for these areas. Many neighborhood in Vancouver have traffic calming and I’ve also driven thru many towns in the US, New Zealand and Europe where you see traffic calming measure everywhere. There are so many options from large speed bumps, to single lane, to S curves
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?
The simple solution to Silver Valley is just hold off on building until the infrastructures are in place. Example: The district continue to allow about 50 more homes to be built built on 236 up at Rock Ridge before the 133 – Larch Ave. connector is completed. The top of 236 provides access down to the Balsam Creek area but a small percentage will use it because it is less than a direct route. Now we are increasing traffic on 236 which has always been a safety issue because of the steep incline. The district can also help turn a vacant lot into a community center. I would push for the community matching grant approach on council and encourage the community to contribute towards building and create a more livable neighborhood to solve some of these existing development problems.
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
Same as my concern for safety mentioned above: It is not necessary for vehicles to cut through this quiet neighborhood to avoid traffic. I would also put a priority in improving the major arteries so it wont be an advantage for people to cut through.