Robert Masse

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?

To me Deeper Roots means an appreciation of our history and local culture.
Greater Heights refers to our aspirations and hopes for the future.

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?

It can, if it is balanced and done in a properly, orderly, ‘best practices’ fashion. The imbalance of residential to commercial, industrial, plus the residential, development without adequate infrastructure in place is problematic.

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?

Again, I believe that we must look to the ‘best practices’ available from other areas and communities.
Clearly, development can/should not be done if it is a net revenue loser to the community. I has assumed that the costs mentioned were “baked into the cake” with the D+C charges. If not, something is wrong.

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?

Some temporary disturbance, such as dump trucks to and from a developing area is inevitable. If it is uncontrolled or out-of-hand it should be remedied. Fill farming is a term I have just become acquainted with, but I get the concept. If good farmland is being degraded by it, why would a farmer allow it? Would this not violate some aspect of the ALR rules? If it increases flood likelihood of neighbouring properties, it should be disallowed.

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 is a set of principles and strategies to help guide balanced, livable, community development. I find it amazing that our community would allow 1 acre clear cut lots, I thought an arborists approval was required for the determination of trees to be cut or left standing.
I promise to become better informed.

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 feel that there is a great divide between what our City Halls stated wants and desires, and the reality of what happens. There are very many good people in City Hall and on Council, but there has not been clear vision, combined with buy-in from City staff. I believe that a ‘Corporate Culture Shift’ is a necessity, and that one is possible.
My main personal investment is in the downtown core, where I own my office. I spent 2 years as chairman of the Safety and Security Committee of the DMRBIA. I am committed to the downtown.
It is my opinion that we also need to develop the Albion flats for retail and industrial/commercial. This will attract more of the Newport Village/Bosa type developments to the downtown, which will transform the downtown core.
We need a full spectrum, balanced community.

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.
I do believe that there are valid circumstances, such as the Albion flats, where exclusion is warranted. The reduction in travel for shopping, jobs and industry will save fossil fuel consumption and reduce our carbon footprint/emissions to such a degree as to be a compelling rationale for it. The socioeconomic benefits are also of a magnitude to be persuasive.

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?

The Pelton exclusion is dead, as the ALR flatly rejected it.
As I mentioned regarding the Albion flats, there may be rare occasions where asking the ALR to consider exclusion would make sense.
I think a community referendum in these cases is a great idea.

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.

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?

Well said!! I have referenced this very fact at the first all candidates meeting at Fraserview. This is related to the need for a corporate culture shift at City Hall, and it can be achieved here. Having said that, Maple Ridge does not share the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of West and North Van, which they derive in part from their proximity to Vancouver.
Vision, leadership and communication, with buy-in from the staff are essential. I do not suggest that I am the one with all the answers, but I have had a lot of success with setting goals, building consensus, and helping boards and committees move forward.

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 agree. The reception people are great, the front counter people are good, once things get past there I don’t know what happens. We need a “Start With Why” attitude there. The WHY is to serve the people of Maple Ridge and help build a better community.

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?

If the logistics, such as getting a volume of people/tourists in and out; can be combined with a cost effective plan, absolutely.
This assumes that it does not trample on property rights of the local people, and as long as it does not denature the area or make it inaccessible or overcrowded for our own residents.

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 canvassed Shady Lane and River Road, and I am quite familiar with 132nd, 224th and 228th; each has some unique characteristics.
The wider, gentler speed bumps, along with some increased enforcement would probably go a long way. ICBC can be quite helpful at providing logistics, and even funding, for safety measures. The issue of non-responsiveness from City Hall, if well founded, is unacceptable.

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. Almost by definition, infrastructure should be in place first. Roads and sidewalks must be in place.
The provision of adequate areas for stores must be provided in the planning, but the stores won’t be opened until certain population densities occur.
Some local recreational amenities, parks, green spaces etc should be provided. Some larger ones must be more centralized due to their costs and upkeep- pools etc.

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

I happen to live near Shady Lane, off Douglas at 124th. I quit using Shady Lane for my drive to work several years ago due to heavy traffic volume.
Wide speed bumps and speed enforcement would help. The people I spoke with there seemed to have reasonable expectations, and to understand that heavier traffic volumes are a fact of life.
In short, the City should be responsive to the reasonable concerns and expectations of the citizens of Maple Ridge, and safety should be a top priority.

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