Monday, December 31, 2007

Wild Life in Port Haney 2007

This young fellow showed up on our deck on December 30th 2007 quite determined to get into the kitchen for some festive food!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is it too early to start thinking about municipal elections

When we all awake On January 1st 2008 in glorious Maple Ridge it will be day one of the year in which the tax payers of Maple Ridge go to the polls (well at least 30% of them) to elect a new Mayor and Council.

Is it, one wonders, too early to begin reflecting on incumbents' performance? What kind of a three-years have we had? Good, bad, so-so? Where have we gained or lost? Does anyone really care?

With a population closing in on 75,000 we can no longer consider ourselves a small community. Does this prevent us from behaving like one? That is a question for the community, not for the politicians.

When it comes to elections the community asks itself who will be the best person to run this District for me? The question may better serve us all if it were slightly re-phrased; who will be the best person to this District for us? It is interesting that the community is content to allow 30% of its number to elect our leaders and to decide the future for us.

If we were able to see who went to the polls three years ago we would probably find that it was largely the same people who went to the polls in the previous election and the ones previous to that.

People who vote never change their demographic; they are all over 50 and have lived in this community for over a decade or were born here.

I'd like to hear from the other 70% in the next election and more important I like to hear from the new comers to Maple Ridge and from the young people. I'd like to see a council of young fresh faces, eager to lead us into the future. People with imagination, vision and a wider understanding of where in the world this small part of the world is headed. In short I'd like to see a clean sweep of our politicians and a nice fresh slate of dedicated citizens, willing to take on the challenges of the next term.

Is it not perhaps time that the Maple Ridge Club opened its doors to everyone?

Golden Ears Bridge on December 10 2007

Evidence of construction of the new Golden Ears Bridge can be seen from as far away as Port Haney. Here the winter sun sets on a crane on the north side of the river.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The many, many reasons for building a new museum in Maple Ridge

Come what may, history happens. There is no stopping time’s passing. And within the framework of time we the thinking species have gone about our business on this planet leaving behind a trail of events which we refer to as history. As far back as the earliest cave paintings Man has understood the need to record his activities, celebrate the events of the day and to preserve the community memory for future generations.

Not a moment passes when we are not a part of history, yet ask a school child what subject they least enjoy at school and it is a safe bet that ‘history’ will be high on the list. Better yet ask an adult when they last visited the museum: “Oh, do we have a museum in Maple Ridge?” is a common response. The reason perhaps is that museums are often thought of as being found in the large and important cities around the world. In Canada we are fortunate in that so many of our small provincial towns boast a local museum. In 1956 community leader George Mussallem recognized that Maple Ridge would one day become a much larger town and that it was important to archive the town’s earliest beginnings. So was born the Maple Ridge Historical Society and subsequently the Maple Ridge Museum was established.

Now in 2007 the Maple Ridge Historical Society is behind a drive to build a new facility that will act as a museum and archive designed to preserve and display our town’s past. At a recent workshop held by the Society participants were asked to list the benefits that a new museum may bring to our community. It soon became evident that the benefits we can expect extend far beyond the fundamental understanding of a museum which is to preserve and display. A little brainstorming brought interesting results.

Intellectual Benefits The need understand to our past through research, collections and increased knowledge; the benefit is knowledge. Spiritual Benefits The need to connect with our past is within us all; the benefit is well-being and the sense that we belong. Physical Benefits When we see a museum building from the outside we may feel comforted or drawn to enter. Then when we step into the building all our senses alert us to the promise of a tactile pathway back to our origins. The benefit is to touch the past with one’s hands as well as one’s eyes, ears and sense of smell.

Demographic Benefits We are not who we once were. Our median age groups change proportionately in a continuous urban dance; we grow in numbers. And as we grow as community we need more cultural activities to stimulate the young and strengthen the aged, and to encourage young families in understanding values of our heritage. Psychographic Benefits Our attitude toward all aspects of life in our community is constantly under review and change. Our base values remain largely embedded, but subtle changes in how we think leads ultimately to universal changes. One day we are urban sprawlers; the next day, ardent gatekeepers of our environment.

Tangible Economics The direct economic benefits of a fully operational museum in a City or District hosting less than 100,000 is probably questionable. In our instinctive quest for the bottom line and return on investment one may have to look further abroad than the institution’s annual financial statements. That is not to say that creative and innovative solutions cannot be implemented which could give rise to a more than break - even and steadily improving, year-over-year finale to each year’s annual report.

Intangible Economics Often it is the intangible benefits that are most tangible of all. Cultural Benefits Notwithstanding the many slights we receive from time to time Maple Ridge has a strong and fast growing cultural community. Attendance at our ACT theatre attests to the fact that we are home to a theatre-hungry and culturally savvy community. Our street festivals draw crowds from all over the valley each year. Tax payers support (for the most part) all the culturally diverse programs and projects that have come their way. The museum expansion will be questioned along the way as to the cost. The truth is that ‘culture costs.’

Core Regeneration In the case of this particular building and its specific location its significance is amplified by the fact that its presence will first create excitement within its immediate location and doubtless catalyze further much-needed development within its environs. Beautification For some years now the District of Maple Ridge has contemplated, and in many cases, acted out the wishes of the downtown community to make our town more beautiful. In 2006 and 2007 the District restated its intention to continue with the beautification of the downtown area through the careful placing of not only such things as flower baskets and banners and perhaps even street art, but more fundamental elements such as adding cross walks and additional traffic lights as well as reconfiguring parking and other street calming techniques. A major benefit of the museum is that it demonstrates the District’s willingness and dedication to make the town centre not simply livable, but desirable.

Walk Maple Ridge The benefits of a healthy walk are well-documented as a path to longevity and happiness. Politicians and staff in Maple Ridge, encouraged by local activists and enthusiasts, have made great headway in creating and promoting opportunities in the District at large. Closer to the centre of town and located near the waterfront a walker will find many pleasant walks during every season. The museum expansion will provide a destination of interest as well as stop for a cup of tea or simply a place to rest along the heritage walk, or perhaps meet a friend.

The regeneration of Haney began when the District restored the sidewalks and our road surfaces on North Street. The work included subtle design changes which would themselves conjure up the notion of ‘we are living in a better place’. What might any of this have to do with the new museum expansion?

Before long 18 townhouses appeared on 225th street, one of the most neglected streets in the downtown area. Suddenly there were other signs of restoration appearing in the area. There is now momentum. The appearance of a construction crew on the museum site would accelerate the rate of regeneration in Haney – a clear benefit.

Haney developments Most of the old buildings of significant heritage importance are gone from the streetscapes of Haney. A small gaggle of low end developments have occurred over the past two decades. Architecturally speaking they are neither here and most certainly not there, when it comes to responsible development of the downtown. An extremely important benefit of the museum expansion is that it will reverse the downward trend of the neighbourhood and encourage hard dollar benefits which will be directly attributed to its presence.

Connecting with the Fraser River Historically 224th Street has always been the main thoroughfare to the Port Town Centre Haney Wharf. Over the years the connection was lost for a variety of reasons. The construction of the Haney Bypass in the 1980s was the last nail in the coffin for old Haney. A review of the downtown centre through the SmartGrowth on the Ground process in 2004 and 2005 alighted almost instantly on the idea that 224th Street was and continues to be the ‘spine’ that connects the downtown to the waterfront. As a spine 224th street has been woefully short in the vertebrae department; that is changing rapidly. A significant benefit of the museum expansion is that it will accelerate and make permanent the town to river connection, eventually making it one of the most pedestrian traveled routes in Maple Ridge.

Enhancing Public Safety Improve street lighting in the immediate vicinity; better sidewalks in the immediate vicinity; more eyes on the street are just some of public safety spin-offs we can expect to see when the new museum is completed. The museum adds to safety and security as it overlooks the Heritage Walk lane from 224th to 225th and as a bonus will make 224th Street a safer place for commuters who regularly walk through the pedestrian tunnel that connects the West Coast Express Station on River Road to 224th Street.

Claus Andrup, June 2007, Haney

(Claus Andrup is current Vice President of the Maple Ridge Historical Society)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A war without peace

The failed attempt by the United States to control Iraq's oil reserves will eventually end. The failure of Iraqis to live harmoniously has seemingly no end in sight. When the war ends will anyone be held responsible for the human cost? Or will it simply be 'on to the next thing?' If the United Nations was unable to stop the US from invading Iraq then where will the next failure occur? Though many of us live our lives distant from the clatter and chaos of bombs and sirens that does not mean that we are not responsible. There is something grotesque and obscene in the way we casually send our young men and women to their deaths. The politicians and generals put on serious faces, but the tears are reserved only for family and friends. The world needs sensible leadership and responsible management. Will it ever come? Not likely.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Controlled Flooding

There is something quaint about the way in which three levels of government are rushing about trying to raise the dikes along the Fraser River. Interesting how when you push nature it does what only nature knows, which is to push back. In our simple way it seems so obvious to jump in with all the equipment we can muster in order to contain the river. I've not yet heard anyone suggest that instead of increasing the height of the dikes the answer may be to build the dikes further from the river's natural course. So desperate are we to protect our farmlands and industrial parks along the Fraser that we push to river further and further inwards when what we need is a little more creative thinking, long term thinking, natural thinking. This bolstering of the dikes will not end well. Let nature take its course - after all, is that not what all the current hue and cry is all about. Let's see now, we'll start with the Fraser River, next Florida. The expected freshet will doubtless be nothing more than a damp squib - just not as damp as everyone anticipates.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

George Bush:That Zany Guy

George Bush Hailed as the Muddle East's Greatest Saviour

Stockholm: August 10, 2010. Ex-president George W. Bush graciously received the Nobel Peace Prize today as the the sole architect of Middle East Peace, the long illusive of holy grail of world peace sought by many over thousands of years.

Bush, in bringing the Shia and Sunni together from the cauldron of war intitiated by his regime's seemingly stupid attack in 2003 on Iraq is seen today as the the greatest world leader in history and peacemaker extraordinaire. He saw what even he did not see.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Relief for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows at last

On Friday February 9th 2007 Premier Gordon Campbell announced the start of work on the new Pitt River bridge. Not a moment too soon.

The bridge is due to be completed in the Fall of 2009. To demonstrate that they mean business the contractor Kiewiet & Son was on site on the following Monday (yesterday) February 12 just two days after the announcement.

The Pitt River bridge is timed to complete with the Golden Ears Bridge that crosses from Langley into Maple Ridge. The two bridges will have a profound effect on the future of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Some explorers go both ways!

Is it true that arctic explorers who have visited both the North and South Poles are referred to as Bipolar?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Full-house expected for last showing of interactive performance of “Meth”


For Immediate Release

January 25, 2007

Full-house expected for last showing of interactive performance of “Meth”

Forum Theatre creates dialogue on roots of addiction

Organizers are expecting a full-house for the last performance of its recent tour of the acclaimed interactive production of “Meth” and therefore ask the public call in their reservations as early as they can.

The BC Tour performances, co-sponsored by Native and non-Native communities’ interactive performance of “Meth” will be held at Westview Secondary School on February 28 from 7:30-9:30 PM.

Headlines Theatre with Native and non-Native participants created and performs Meth, an interactive Forum Theatre production. Communities across BC use the primal language of theatre to grapple with the human relationships and dynamics that lead to addiction, creating theatrical public dialogue in search of grassroots solutions.

A Native Elder tells Headlines that Meth use on reserves is “the new plague”. Mass media now regularly reports on the “Meth epidemic”. Addiction knows no racial or geographical boundaries, yet communities struggle to address it isolated from one another. Who are the addicted? Why? And what can be done?

25 years strong, Headlines Theatre has produced hundreds of Theatre for Living workshops and performances around the world. Recent mainstage events Here and Now (2005) and Practicing Democracy (2004) played to great critical and audience acclaim, with Practicing Democracy being honoured as Outstanding Production of the Year at the 2004 Jessie Richardson Awards.

Don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of the last performance on their BC wide tour. For reservations call 604-329-9365. Admission will be by donation.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

What parents need to know about meth addiction

Claus Andrup│What do you know about meth addiction?

The majority of families in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge will never have to deal with the tragedy of addiction to crystal meth in their lives. For most of us crystal meth is something we read about in the press, see glimpses of on TV in documentaries or advertisements, or are reminded of each time we drive along East Hastings on our way back from a hockey game or concert downtown.

Politicians discuss crystal meth addiction, much in the same way that they discuss health, education or the environment. We expect them to do so and they never disappoint. As is often the case however, it takes the community itself to make the transition from ‘discussion’ to ‘action.’

Through a chance meeting between my wife Deborah and an acquaintance, Rani Bellwood, I came to find myself sitting among 50 or so young people in the Youth Lounge at Pitt Meadows recreational centre on a recent Saturday evening. Rani had suggested to my wife that we may want to attend an educational evening for youth. The theme for the evening was “Life or Meth.”

I thought that 50 or 60 children was a great turnout. They had many questions on the subject of meth and meth addiction, and were keen to share what knowledge they had gleaned informally and, perhaps more importantly, seemed eager to expand their knowledge.

The Life or Meth presentation combined videos and slides with the acting-out of two young simulated addicts who told their stories based on the lives of real characters with whom they had been in contact with or directly from RCMP or VPD reports.

Most of us are familiar with the fact that crystal meth is highly addictive and almost impossible to shake. We know too that it attacks its victim physically and mentally with severe consequences and that death is a common outcome.

Perhaps the cruelest thing about crystal meth is that once introduced to the system it immediately robs the user of his or her reason. The challenge for outreach workers and youth coordinators, it seemed to me, was how on earth do they make addicts understand in the first instance that they have a problem and second, that if they do not kick the habit, they may find themselves in the morgue?

To combat such a powerful drug takes resolve, persistence, ingenuity and the involvement of the entire community from every walk of life. In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows this seems to be taking place, as demonstrated by people such as Rani Bellwood chairperson of the Life or Meth Youth Forum Organization Committee, Tony Cotroneo Youth Services Coordinator for Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, Mary Robson chairperson Maple Crystal Meth Task Force, Andrew Tolchard Chairperson for the Pitt Meadows Crystal Meth Task Force and the community partners that assisted.

As parents and adults our views of the addicted vary. Some of us may lump together, or associate a number of unpleasant aspects of the state of our communities. Homelessness, crime, addiction, production and distribution of drugs, prostitution and child neglect become, as it were, a single issue which we think of now and then, but choose to ignore if we possibly can. Until, of course, the day that the problem walks in our own front door in the form of one of our own children.

Parent blame has always been central to any discussion where teen behaviour is concerned. What causes certain behaviour patterns in our youth? Given that our children are subjected to having to watch mum and dad’s behaviour on a daily basis and having to listen to what mum and dad have to say about this issue or that, it is hard to absolve parents from the absolute responsibility of how children respond during the long and often arduous process of becoming adults.

Parents, for their part, are not born experts and most of their training can be said to be of the ‘on the job’ variety.

That said, the least one can expect from parents is curiosity. Bringing up our children should involve a lot of who, where, why, what and when?

In the case of drug addiction among youth the call for who, where, why and when becomes even stronger as the answers to the questions can save lives and whole family structures; and ultimately whole communities.

Here are three basic questions that parents in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows should be asking themselves.
· What are the chances my child will be exposed to this, and will try it?
· If my kid is using it, how to I detect that?
· If I think my kid is using, what can I do about that?

The hackles will rise on any parent at the suggestion even that a child of theirs could become a drug addict. Oddly, today it is the youth themselves, at least in this community, who seem to be asking more questions than the parents. This bodes well for future generations and for the quality of life we can expect many decades down the road.

The probability: General population surveys on alcohol and other drug use are often done by telephone interviews. You may have even participated in surveys done through questionnaires at your school. These studies show a low rate of Meth use in the general population.
For example, a major recent survey, the Canadian Addictions Survey 2004 (CAS), asked people about their use of "speed", an informal term that covers all amphetamines, including Meth. The CAS showed that 0.8% of Canadians reported using speed at least once in the previous 12 months.
That doesn't seem like a big percentage so why the big deal?

Firstly, 0.8% of Canadians 15 years and older equals about two hundred thousand people so, while that number is much smaller than some other substances, it's still significant. Also, standard surveys and interviews in the general population likely miss hard-to-reach people such as street youth. Information from other sources suggests that Meth use is much higher among this group.
Information, such as hospital admissions, shows that the number of people seeking treatment for Meth problems is growing. Police have also uncovered more clandestine laboratories producing Meth. They have also seized greater quantities of Meth. All these factors point to increasing Meth use, particularly in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.
The signs: User Denial, Family Member Denial, Enabling, Codependency, Personality changes, Immaturity (avoiding responsibility) Self-Esteem, Suicide attempts, Changes in Relationships, Lack of Motivation, Changes in Thinking, Concentration & Memory, Values and Beliefs, Denial & Lying, Changes in Sleeping and Eating patterns, Reckless & Impulsive behavior, Changes in Physical Appearance and Health, Changes in Personal Habits and Activities, Mental and Behavioral Changes, Arising Legal Problems.[2]

Action: In today’s world help is everywhere, thanks largely to the ubiquity of the internet. Each community recognizes the threat of meth addiction among youth. In Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows we are fortunate to have among us the leadership and volunteers who understand the need to come to the assistance of victims of the proponents of illicit substances.
People such as Rani Bellwood, Tony Cotroneo, Mary Robson chairperson Maple Crystal Meth Task Force, Andrew Tolchard and a small army of youth community partners are poised to help and guide any parent in need of advice. The irony should not be lost here; in large part our volunteer youth are standing by to help parents who do not know how to react to the addictions that may be affecting their own kids. Youth helping adults – perfect.

Maple Ridge, October 2006


Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Albion Sports Complex would create a centre of excellence for the youth of Maple Ridge

It will be some years before the community of Maple Ridge - particularly those who live in the Albion or Kanaka Creek area - decides what land use would be acceptable and desirable for one of the few remaining agricultural zones in the District. For a few years now a company called FirstPro (it recently changed its name to the more palatable and user friendly "SmartCentres" presumably following all the other smarts; SmartGrowth, Smart Cars, Smart Energy etc) has been enthusiastically assembling as many of the lots in the Albion as it could lay its hands on. This speculative buying as its endgame the construction of a large, typical strip mall occupied largely by Wall-Mart. Given that we now live in an age where consumerism has evolved into a full-time hobby for most of us, it comes as no surprise that big box names are lurking in the reeds at the Albion waiting to put their foundations down. Valid and well-established arguments exist for and against.

And while we all have our opinions, the District of Maple Ridge - politicians and staff - are less fortunate than us the citizenry. Citizens are entitled to their opinions; government is only entitled to facts.

Whether or not we see a legacy-type sports complex where we can hold provincial, national and even international sporting events ,or whether we are handed yet another venue for running up our credit cards and overdrafts, remains to be seen. It will all come down to opinion versus fact in a sort WWF of urban planning. I can already hear the crowd getting restless.......they are calling for blood as the proponents of the battle for Albion Green Belt get ready to ruuuuuuuuuuumballllllllllll!!!!!


"Humans look like fish out of water."


Monday, January 01, 2007

Maple Ridge Crystal Meth Task Force

Maple Ridge Crystal Meth Task Force
Coming Together through Addictions, and Mental Illness


January 2nd, 2007

Maple Ridge Crystal Meth Task Force broadens role

Maple Ridge, BC: The Maple Ridge Crystal Meth Task Force is pleased to announce that it is expanding its mandate from crystal meth only to a broader spectrum of addictions and will now include mental illness.

Says Chairperson Mary Robson: “What Maple Ridge has been able to accomplish, through funding and the synergy that is happening in our community, is recovery and post-treatment.”

She adds: “In July 2004 the community took ownership of its problem and Maple Ridge has been the only community in the GVRD that has been successful in reducing the number of people on its streets.”

The newly mandated Maple Ridge Crystal Meth Task Force will hold its first meeting on January 15, 2007 from 3 PM - 4:30 PM in the Genstar room at the ACT theatre in Maple Ridge.

Anyone wishing to attend or wanting details should please contact Rani Bellwood (Mobile) 778.230.8101