Thursday, March 02, 2006

A second kick at the Official Community Plan can

Last summer critics of the proposed revision to the Maple Ridge Official Community Plan provided Council and Staff with a vigorous and pointed demonstration of what they disliked about the plan and where they thought the process lacked leading to the final draft. Council and staff have now responded responsibly and promptly by giving the community a chance at righting the perceived wrongs of the 2005 rendition of the OCP.

This may be a good time to thank both the previous council and the new council for their efforts to date; and to thank the staff which, by its presence, makes continuity of the process possible, notwithstanding the vagaries of municipal politics. This is also a good time to thank the 175 speakers or so who made their concerns known throughout the long and often heated hearings last summer; and to thank those who emailed and wrote some 1000 letters to the Hall, mostly critical of the OCP.

Even so, 175 speakers, 1000 letter writers, a handful of staff, one mayor and six councilors is nothing compared to the 64,247 acres which comprise Maple Ridge and the 73,000 souls who occupy this District. 64,247 acres is a number constant and 73,000 people which is number increasing at an unpredictable rate.

Wisely it has been decided to put to tender the job of coordinating this next attempt at putting to bed the community’s next five year plan. This is a good idea which follows more or less the principles of public consultation process as applied during the SmartGrowth on the ground project. Will it be as successful?

That is really up to the community. Having had the opportunity to act out their role as critics, the public are now being given the opportunity to reflect and innovate. My wish is that the most vociferous of the critics show up at all the workshops and every other opportunity they get to add their ideas to the next OCP. We already know that not every creative solution will fly, but we will also know that we have had our say and found, one hopes, consensus. The first people to show up the workshops should be the interest groups and the community associations and groups and the individuals and corporations who see themselves as part of the District’s future. If these people and groups and can reach consensus through the process facilitated by Stantec then it will make the hearings less of a battle ground and we can move forward with some degree of confidence first towards 2010 (of course) and then 2020 and on.

To my mind participation in helping to develop the plan is more or less a season ticket to attending the hearings when they come. It will not go unnoticed that at least two of the 2005 critics will be prevented from getting behind at the mike this summer’s hearings as they now find themselves on receiving end. Something about getting what you wish for.

Claus Andrup
Port Haney