Wendy Cook

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?

Deep Roots means that the area that is now known as Maple Ridge was first settled approximately 4000 years ago by the ancestors of the Katzie people. This was proved by carbon dating of artifacts found when part of what is now known as Golden Ears Way became an archeological dig site. It was a trading center and I actually held some tiny trading beads in my hand that had just been dug up by the Katzie crew who handled the dig. Knowing what happened in our past and why is important to people be it a dig that turns out to be 4,000 years old or one on the Fraser that turns up old bottles near the wharf that date back to the 1800s. It gives people a feeling that they have a connection to the land or “roots” and a sense of pride in where they come from even our name Maple Ridge has a historical story of the ridge of trees that once stood where the Maple Ridge Golf Course now stands. When people have pride in the land they have more of a vested interest in ensuring it is protected and developed in such a way to ensure that future generations will continue to be proud of where they come from. Sustainable development with and eye to ensuring we attract those people and enterprises that will contribute to the local cultural, educational, economical, entrepreneurial, edible and environmental efforts of past and future generations.

Our city hall staff compile background reports and compile research and information to enable mayor and council to make decisions that will ensure we have a thriving community. A community where we can walk the dykes beside waters full of wildlife, fish, canoe or swim in clean waters, go cycling or hiking on safe well maintained roads and trails throughout Maple Ridge, safely cross a road, buy a new house build to the best
standards, drink water from our taps, walk on clean streets, shop knowing that the food, goods and services are licensed and do their jobs knowing that what they do is a part of a crew that ensures the municipality will continue to be one of the best communities in the world. A place people are proud to call or have called “my home”. The staff at municipal hall are doing a good job of running the municipality they make suggestions and provide information to their superiors. It is the officers of the municipality and the elected mayor and council who set the direction of the ship. That is why we have elections every three years to ensure we have a say in which direction the ship will go.

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?

Sustainable social development of a community will continue to improve the quality of life to present and future residents of Maple Ridge. We need to temper urban and rural development so that balance is realized for the whole municipality which will only happen if all neighborhoods of Maple Ridge are involved in the decisions as to who, what, where, when and why development occurs. My vision of a ward system where councilors are initially assigned to and eventually chosen by a particular neighborhood would work to provide continual communication to and from council and allow input on issues important to those neighborhoods throughout each three year term.

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?

Q. Does development make economic sense?
Yes. Structured development is necessary to maintain and improve the local economic base.

Is it good fiscal policy to continue development without having a business plan with understandable cost attribution?
No. We should require a cost analysis of these issues especially when large developments are proposed. Only then can the costs of the development be fairly shared between the landowner and the taxpayer.

Can you provide details that show that development is paying for itself and is not being subsidized by the taxpayer?
Not at this time. However, as a councilor with a background in budgeting, audit, project management and funding I will be able to ensure that these factors are taken into account before decisions that will affect taxes now and in the future are made.

Should the developer or the taxpayer pay for the cost of new development infrastructure?
In areas where the taxpayer has already paid for the cost of infrastructure, the developer should pay for the upgrades required to connect to that infrastructure.
In areas where the infrastructure has not yet been developed but is within the “urban reserve” a cost analysis should be made to fairly assign costs to the municipality and the developer. These municipal costs should be paid by the future residents of the development by way of a special levy on their taxes calculated over 10 years to ensure that those taxpayers who have already paid for their infrastructure do no have to pay.

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. Planning for a municipality the size of Maple Ridge needs to be revised so that future development takes into account the need for small residential/commercial nodes which would provide a gathering place for the new residents and should include a shop/ cafe and professional grouping like the 102nd commercial node which now provides a sense of community to the Albion neighborhood. In addition where the development will impact on the local school, the developers and municipality should be required to budget for either expansion of or building of a new school. The effect of the increased traffic on existing roadways and requirement of an allowance for pedestrians and cyclists safety, including street lighting should be budgeted for. These costs could again be made by way of a special tax levy that would be spread over a 10 year period on those who will benefit from the improvements, taking into account the taxes already paid by those residents who are located outside of the new development area.
A form of road tax is already charged by the municipality on heavy trucks that use municipal roads during construction of new developments. These funds should be placed in a specific account and used for the maintenance/improvement of those roads specifically effected by the increased traffic, not put into general revenue.

And is fill-farming an appropriate practice on farmland?
No. Both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have dykes that require regular maintenance and need to be raised as the water level of the Fraser River and its tributaries increase, for example the water in Kanaka Creek is higher than 105th Street. These dykes should be the recipient of the fill which is removed from new developments. In addition, new development should have to take into account the requirement for a hydrology report to ensure that underground streams are not blocked off which is what happened to the Albion Flats area. The land there can be reclaimed and utilized for more intensive farming much like most of Europe, especially Holland.

Common sense dictates that when fill is added to one area, the water will go to the next lowest space and unless a water course is made to redirect the water, it will flood the neighbours land making it un-farmable; unless they decide to start a trout or shrimp farm.

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, to me, means allowing development that is “in tune” with the surrounding geographical, geotechnical, environmental, human and non-human residents current and future. Maple Ridge is surrounded by what I like to refer to as a natural moat comprised of the Fraser River, Katzie Slough, Pitt, Alouette and Stave Lakes and the Stave River (our best source of power in the event of a natural disaster in the future). We can make plans now by utilizing our OCP that will ensure logical use of all of the natural and human resources that do and will live in harmony on our “Island Home”.
Medieval towns evolved and were developed by their Mayor and Town Council to provide the surrounding farmers a market to sell their crops, food stuffs and livestock. They later developed into towns of commerce, arts, artisans, entrepreneurs and educators. Maple Ridge needs a center core which will be a draw for commerce, tourism, education, artists, artisans and more diverse shopping facilities. Outlying neighborhoods or “hamlets” which provide essentials such as elementary schools, professional services and smaller shops, cafes and family facilities already exist in some areas like the Kanaka Coffee shop on 102nd. Future large scale developments need to be structured along the same lines to ensure that people who move to these developments have local amenities taken into account in the planning stage.

A good example of a municipality similar in size to Maple Ridge is Squamish. It has evolved over the past 30 years like Maple Ridge and has managed to maintain its tourist industry and has added a local educational institute that has attracted both students and teachers from BC Canada and other parts of the world. The downtown area is now a mix of shops that cater to tourists and locals. Many of the residents have to commute to work in Vancouver as do many of ours. The local forest industry was scaled down due to the changing economy and the waterfront is being developed into a retirement community whose residents are happy to do some golfing, fishing, hiking and spend time in the small cafes and shops. There are hamlets which have been built 20 minutes from town and small neighborhood cafes and artisans shops cater to local groups in the winter and tourists in the summer. New hotels have been built and condominiums are being built near the downtown core within walking distance of the shops. The Squamish band is involved in the tourist trade as well and also have been active in the remaining forestry activities in their area as are the Katzie here.

We can do as well in Maple Ridge especially if we take advantage of the Fraser River Experience initiative that is being developed by the Fraser Valley Regional District and Metro Vancouver whose purpose is to develop a recreational trail along the Fraser from Hope to the Salish Sea at Tsawassan which will attract tourism and develop the historical and cultural activities and sites along the Fraser and its tributaries. We should ensure that the two tributaries of the Fraser, the Katzie Slough and Pitt River are included in the overall concept which will also develop ecotourism as the methods of transportation along the trail are by way of foot, bike, boat and canoe. Some of the trail may become accessible to motorized scooters as well.

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?

I have attended several community meetings when the OCP was being developed and it appeared that the senior staff were as enthusiastic as the council to get it in place to provide guidelines for the future development of Maple Ridge.
As I am not on council at the present time, I cannot judge their internal actions but will certainly do so once I am elected.

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, certainly all of the above will have to be taken into account when development decisions are made. We will have a two year time line to correlate the OCP and the Metro Vancouver Plan and there will be neighbourhood involvement in that process.

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 do not support the exclusion of the Pelton farm from the ALR .

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?

Yes, that is why the Committee was set up and to ensure balance members should be from all sectors of the community so that they can share their vision, knowledge and experience .

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?

Based on the feedback I am getting from the seven communities, they feel left out of the process. They want more ongoing input into development issues, not just when a developer makes a proposal. My proposal to have councilors assigned to represent the seven communities of Maple Ridge would enable this ongoing input. This “Ward” system would allow the communities, by way of an “ad hoc” development committee to develop their own community plan; taking into account the OCP, their needs and their vision of the future for their neighbourhoods.

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?

I believe that there is a need for a department that deals specifically with the properties and land owned by the people of Maple Ridge. The present arrangement where this very important function is dealt with by the Parks and Leisure department puts too much strain on that department. Considering the increase to the land that Maple Ridge now owns and the development that is proposed, a separate department of professional and support staff is needed to address the issues. A Department of Land Management would take the pressure off staff and would provide ongoing communication between people, council and developers, much like the Lands & Trusts section of the Department of Indian Affairs where I worked for several years. I would be pleased to expand on this suggestion at the candidates forum.

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?

Yes, it fits in very nicely with my concept of boosting tourism and having Maple Ridge become involved in the Fraser River trails development from Hope to Tsawassan being set up by the Fraser Valley Regional District and Metro Vancouver.

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 husband and I live on 128th avenue between 232nd Street and 227th Street. We have the same problem and I have been frustrated by the increased traffic over the past five years. I made a presentation to council and produced a CD which resulted in first a cross walk at 232 and 128 and then finally a traffic light which allows people and horses to now cross safely. In addition, we now have a separate path on the south side of 128th on the other side of the ditch which again allows people and horses to travel the strip in safety. The other problem is speeding traffic at all times, before and after school and during rush hour. I have asked to have “sleeping policeman” traffic bumps installed especially at 229 and 128 ave where the seniors from the seniors court cross, one lady and her child ended up in the ditch several years ago. I was told that the emergency vehicles do not want these. I believe they need to be put in place before someone is killed on the street especially when it is dark and the deer and bear cross over to get to the Alouette River. They are put in and work effectively in False Creek and Matsqui for example on the major arterial roads. Another way of installing these “sleeping policeman” traffic calmers is to make them underbumps well marked by yellow cross hatching. This method works well in rural England and has resulted in fewer speed related accidents. Again, I would be pleased to discuss this further and have similar “sleeping policeman” installed in those areas.

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?

No. Before developments are moved forward, a cost analysis study should be made of the impact on local and surrounding neighbourhoods in relation to roads, sidewalks, lighting, amenities and most important, schools at the cost of the developer for large developments with over 200 units and on a rated scale for smaller developments shared by the municipality and the developer. This would be a fair way to share the cost which would be regained by a special levy on the new houses spread out over 10 years so as not to burden those taxpayers who have already paid for their improvements over the years and that of others throughout Maple Ridge as a whole.


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

My suggestion would be to make it a no-go zone for large trucks which I would also like to see happen on other routes such as 128 avenue where we live. Trucks now use our street instead of Abernathy Way as we do not have any stop signs from 232nd street to 227th street. It has also become a drag zone with one motorbike clocked at 220K late at night (I would take a picture if I could). We should install traffic claming devices so that drivers who are in a hurry and do not drive the route to enjoy the wonderful trees and gardens take another route. I know many people, myself included who take this route for just such a reason and enjoy the drive.
Perhaps a 30K zone would work such as is proposed for 224th between Dewdney and 124th Avenue.

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