Saturday, September 24, 2005

Maple Ridge Municipal Elections 2005

Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows NEWS editor Michael Hall in the Saturday, September 24 2005 edition posed the follwing questions to the incumbent Mayor and 6 council members. It is easy to pretend that one is running, so that is what I did. Below are the questions and how I would have answered them.

Q: Do you support the proposed new Official Community Plan wording and schedule on suburban expansion to Thornhill? [When central Maple Ridge densifies and the district approaches a population of 100,00.] If not, what would you change?
A: I do not support the OCP for many reasons, and neither does 56% of the population of Maple Ridge. One should not be considering any expansion of residential zones in any direction at this stage. Landowners and developers need to recognize that a surplus of land within the urban envelop exists and needs to be built out before consideration can be given to encroachment of the Agricultura Land Reserve or the Green Zone. The District acknowledges a shortage of industrial and commercial space and this should be the priority if any expansion at all is to be contemplated.

Q: Do you favour a big-box shopping mall in Albion Flats or Lougheed Highway, yes or no and explain.
A: No. Proponents of big-box malls such as FirstPro are applying outmoded philosophies and rules to retailing. If they are to be of any use to the communities they wish to operate in, they will need to spend more time on developing responsible design and constuction criteria. Aside from this land use is an issue when it comes to the Albion Flats. The Albion Flats have the potential to be developed in a way that demonstrates that Maple Ridge is capable of leadership in urban planning. We have yet to find a developer who is willing to go this route and until such time as we do there is no hurry to develop the Albion.
Q: Generally, in what areas should Maple Ridge focus its commercial and/or industrial development?
A: If by "areas" you mean geographical areas we are limited for choice. There are a handful of designated zones that are close to capacity. With the new Fraser Crossing due for completion in 2009 it is fair to assume that these existing zones will be built out by then. The most obvious and possibly the most contentious choice would be to convert the farmlands in the vicinity of Pelton Reforestation, including the Pelton property itself, to an industrial commercial zone. Less talked about is the notion that with the addition of some ramps, the entire Barnston Island to be the focus of all commercial activity for Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. While of no direct tax benefit to the coffers of Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows it would nonetheless shorten the commute to work for many and quite possibly become the economic driver for surrounding businesses in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. A third option is voiced by certain councilors that one can lighten the load on the environment and on existing residential and agricultural areas by spreading new industrial and commercial projects throughout the District. This is a good idea on the surface and demonstrates reponsible social and environmental thinking. What is does not account for is the fact that the process for each project would be arduous on Staff, Council and indeed the NIMBY contingency that would be busy on a full-time basis contestiing each application. So there are three options. There are more of course. If by areas you mean types of business I believe we should be looking at high-paying technology and information-based businesses.

Q: Why should you be re-elected this term? Or what do you consider being your greates contribution on council this term?
A: Not applicable.
Q: What was the latest book you've read?
A: "Death Sentences" by Tom Watson.

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