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?
To me motto means that we have an incredibly diverse history that we respect. The greater heights I hope to send the message that we can become one the most outstanding well balanced communities in Canada. Certain decisions at the District Hall recently are of concern to me. The decision to destroy the Albion hall was an example of a lack of respect for our deep roots.
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?
Some development was required to bring new residents like myself to Maple Ridge but the way the development has been planned and implemented has not improved the quality of life in Maple Ridge. We have several poorly planned communities. This has brought far too many residents who rely on automobiles for transportation, schools that are overflowing and severe lack of safe ways for children to get to school. Parents have to drive to the other end of town to drop their children off causing even more emissions and traffic congestion.
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 that has occurred could have been a great thing for Maple Ridge had it been implemented properly. If Developers had to provide at least 10 percent of the development to affordable housing we could have had great gains for the seniors and underemployed members of population.
Poorly planned development does not make good economic sense.
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?
If we look around our district we see urban sprawl and several communities all fighting for their concerns. There has been severe lack of affordable housing resulting in homelessness and many illegal suites. It seems clear to me that the development process has not been handled well. We hear how Maple Ridge is one of the top places for investment. But I question why we have not seen business investing and providing living wage employment for our citizens?
Fill farming that is unchecked and not environmentally friendly is not an appropriate practice.
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.?.
Look around areas such as Burnaby, New Westminster etc. Smart Growth to me means that a community includes everyone not put all the low income residents in one area but making sure that there is a mix of use when developing. That there is corner store an accessible way to get groceries, providing areas for entertainment and outdoor spaces that encourage the community to come together.
We need to follow the OCP and respect the environmental uniqueness of Maple Ridge.
More density in the downtown area should have been the focus in initial development plans.
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?
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?
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 believe we need to utilize the access to the Golden Ears Bridge to encourage more businesses to Maple Ridge but I do not believe removing land from the ALR is the way to do it. There have been far too many “exceptions” to the OCP. We need a council and staff who respect the OCP.
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 also have the developer pay a fee for the AAC’ reports.
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?
They have moderately successful. Regularly they go against what the senior staff has suggested. I wonder why we have staff that the Mayor and Council are not listening to.
I believe that the Community meetings need to be moved to a varying time schedule to help the community to attend.
I admire communities that have elected accessible candidates. I work in Mission and have had many informal meetings with the mayor and council there about their community issues. Rarely have I had an informal meeting with our elected officials. When I see them in a store they don’t ask how things are going. Diane Watts seems to truly care about the taxpayers and all citizens of Surrey. I would if elect strive to be the same kind of accessible public servant.
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?
There seems to be an incredible rate of disregard for taxpayers in our Country. I am funded by taxpayers through my employment in Community Living. I make it a point to remind staff that we need to consider how does the taxpayer feel about this expenditure? I was taught long ago by a woman who has started several social enterprises that every decision must be made “consciously” with thought to all sides of the equation.
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?
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?
Traffic is an issue in all of the areas of the district we need to find solutions to maintain our resident’s safety sooner before tragic consequences are the result of such poor planning practices.
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?
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
This is an issue in many neighbourhoods work needs to be done with the RCMP to enforce our speed limits and planning that will help decrease through traffic running through residential areas. Working with residents is a priority to find solutions. Listening is great but without action it is pointless.