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 the meaning of Deeper Roots – reflects our history and the importance of valuing our roots. Greater Heights is our future – the potential for creating a complete community. Yes our motto is reflected in the day to day decisions.
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, balanced development improves the quality of life. We need to continue to make balanced decisions, so that the future of Maple Ridge is inclusive of what we have enjoyed and what we all believe in. We need provide good paying jobs in our community. One of the benefits of development is the employment opportunities for our citizens during construction and beyond.
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?
The district has good fiscal policy. Our financial statements provide details and line by line costs for each department. Council is responsible for approximately half of the tax bill. The other charges are attributed to water, sewer, Translink and school levies. Each year, Council and staff conduct an extensive exercise to develop a business plan to guide the District through the upcoming year and into the future. Business plans identify; the core businesses essential to the organization, objectives and goals to be achieved, and performance measures for each department. It is recognized that the residential tax burden must be reduced.
I support the economic strategy which is aimed at attracting more commercial/industrial opportunities to Maple Ridge. This will help to balance the residential tax base. “Reducing taxes means reducing service.”
Yes – the developer should and does pay for the cost of new development infrastructure.
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 do not agree with the poor practices that we are seeing on some ALR land. As you are aware the ALC controls the approval for the in-fill. I did not support a recent request to put fill on a property in Whonnock as I did not want to see a repeat of what has been going in the Alouette Valley neighbourhood. I appreciate the work of the AVA and council is working within our municipal authority.
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 several principles that guide smart growth.
- Each community is complete
- Options to the car are emphasized
- Work in harmony with natural systems
- Buildings and infrastructure are greener, smarter, and cheaper
- Housing meets the needs of the whole community
- Jobs are close to home
- Everyone has a voice
Our Downtown Plan is an example of the smart growth principles. Smart growth is about a complete community and neighbourhoods within that community. A place where people can live, shop, play and work close to home. Smart, sustainable growth enhances quality of life, protects the environment, and is financially responsible.
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 supported sending the application forward to the ALC for review. I supported it because of the employment potential. There would have been many opportunities for the citizens of Maple Ridge to provide concerns, comments or opinions through the entire process including any proposed zoning changes that would have come before council.
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?
No I wouldn’t support forwarding all applications to the AAC. The agricultural advisory committee is an advisory committee not a land use committee. On this particular issue there is division at the AAC table, some feel this would be cumbersome if they had to make land use decisions. It is also important to note that none of the council committees make land use decisions.
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?
I believe that we have worked hard to be inclusive of public input. We make every effort to ensure our citizens receive information in a manner that is best for them. Information is available on our website, through email, feedback forms, in person meetings and formal council meeting processes. Our meetings are open and transparent. A citizen can receive all of information in person, by mail or on the internet. In the Mayors inaugural address in 2008, he said, “the trademark of this Council will be delivering results through relationships” We have lived up to this.
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?
Effective communication is an issue that is raised on a regular basis. I believe that we must provide district services in a prompt, timely and respectful manner. I support openness and transparency at municipal hall, good policy results when the public is consulted and respected. This is a priority and council just received an update at our last workshop regarding the customer service initiative that we directed staff to work on. The district staff are working together to adopt a set of customer service standards. The goal in the District of Maple is to be known for exceptional customer service. We need to strive for this on a continuous basis.
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, I am familiar with this initiative. Council has received a presentation on this matter and I supported sending this request to business planning for consideration.
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?
Answer: Continue with the traffic enforcement strategies including utilizing the speed watch volunteers and working with ICBC on an education campaign. Driver behavior is an issue throughout the District. Council has passed a resolution directing staff look at the entire issue of traffic calming including revising our current policy to including other means of traffic calming such as chicanes, speed bumps, etc.
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 current council policy states that development pays for the services and infrastructure required to complete the project. Development cost charges are collected and used for specific projects throughout the District. The OCP has designated the land for the shops, services, schools, parks etc. It is up to the private sector to develop these lands. The school district is reliant on the Ministry of education to approve the funding for the purchase of land and the capital to build. I support the strategy to acquire schools sites on behalf of the School Board. We will continue to try and get an agreement with the School Board and the Ministry to try and reach an agreement.
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
At our November 8th meeting we had a presentation from the residents of Shady Lane. Excellent presentation, some great solutions for traffic calming. At a previous meeting Council passed a resolution to direct staff look at the entire issue of traffic calming for many residential neighbourhoods including 124th.