Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Second thoughts on the future of Maple Ridge

Most, if not all, communities describe themselves as 'unique'. There is something in each of us that makes us feel we are not quite like the guy or gal next door. And as it is with individuals it expands to small rural communities, small towns, midsized towns, cities, provinces ('Beautiful' apparently, British Columbia), countries, continents and, who knows, one day even solar systems.

Back to earth; specifically the few acres in the Fraser Valley known as Maple Ridge. What is it that makes this town unique? Ah yes, we don't have any BIG boxes where we can shop. Now and then I am tempted to think 'so what' let Wallmart have its way with Maple Ridge. So long, of course, at it alights on the Haney Place Mall site and not in the Albion. The Albion, where, it is loudly heralded, the District is about to launch another of its self-serving studies.

To the East of Maple Ridge and to the West of Maple Ridge we have enough big box banality to serve ten communities our size. And now we have a bridge which opens up every one of the biggest boxes on the planet to the retail hungry among us. And to those who cry out for shopping on the Albion they now have two choices; move to Surrey or Langley, or just drive 20 minutes to either Mission, Pitt Meadows, Coquitlam or South. Even the US border is closer now so all those great factory outlets are there to serve you.

Long known as a dormitory community, one once took this description as an insult. Now, it seems, we ought perhaps to reflect on the fact that we are a dormitory and not a clone of all the other communities in the Fraser Valley.

Maple Ridge has long been overlooked as nothing but a distant and poor cousin to all our neighbours in the West and South. Today, we can be thankful for being ignored and not dragged, as it were, into the maelstrom of malls and mediocrity that sits on three of our flanks.

We can tell the world that if it likes rivers, lakes, mountains, sports (we could do with a lot more golf courses and soccer fields and stadia) then come to Maple Ridge. If the worlds wants to see more garage bands, art and artists per capita than almost anywhere else, then come to Maple Ridge.

On the other hand, if the visitor is seeking fine architecture and shops, then they should be redirected almost anywhere but Maple Ridge. We leave good design, construction and forward looking planning to other communities, but one cannot expect everything to be perfect.

To maintain our unique character we have to resist sprawl, now more than ever.

To maintain our unique character we have to (somehow) revitalize the downtown and - for those who insist on shopping - base all our retail activity in the centre of town.

To maintain our unique character we have to get the homeless off the streets, and the dial-a-drug ops, the prostitutes and those awful hooded cyclists who run amok in our neighbourhoods, out of town. We are not prudes - well OK some of us are - so we can have as much fun as the next community - visit our summer jazz festival or any other of our many public events in Memorial Park.

The kinds of uniqueness we need to rid ourselves of include houses with piles of junk cars littering the driveways, buildings like Northumberland Court, and property owners like Jack A. The district is working on all of this, but in typical incremental stages that can drive a voter batty.

And to maintain our uniqueness we need to resist strongly the notion that our land is not suitable for agriculture - that propostion is an outright lie perpetuated not only by the developers and realtors, but by the council, staff and approving officers who persist in supporting applications for the removal of good farm land in favour of more single-residential housing. This is a very lazy way of increasing the District's purse - nothing unique in that.

Yesterday I drove south across the bridge into Langley and Surrey. My immediate instinct was a desire head back north to the relative quietude of our little village. There is nothing in Langley or Surrey for me.

So I took the Albion Ferry north. Most likely for the last time. I reflected on the days when the ferry was my only choice and wondered, perhaps, whether I now - on this day - had one choice too many. And the right choice was soon to be taken away forever.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Does Northumberland Court warrant invoking eminent domain

It is not unheard of for local government, in severe cases, to invoke eminent domain. Could the case of Northumberland take the District of Maple Ridge in this direction? There is a strong case for replacing the current owners with a government agency who could tear down the building and replace it with community housing for those families truly in need.

If this approach were used BC-wide it would fit well into the Province's need to care for the any homeless we have somehow managed to create.

Radio Haney

The term "condemnation" is used to describe the formal act of the exercise of the power of eminent domain to transfer title to the property from its private owner to the government. This use of the word should not be confused with its sense of a declaration that real property, generally a building, has become so dilapidated as to be legally unfit for human habitation due to its physical defects. This type of condemnation of buildings (on grounds of health and safety hazards or gross zoning violation) usually does not deprive the owners of the title to the property condemned but requires them to rectify the offending situation or have the government do it for the owner at the latter's expense.

Condemnation via eminent domain indicates the government is taking ownership of the property or a lesser interest in it, such as an easement. In most cases the only thing that remains to be decided when a condemnation action is filed is the amount of just compensation, although in some cases the right to take may be challenged by the property owner on the grounds that the attempted taking is not for a public use, or has not been authorized by the legislature, or because the condemnor has not followed the proper procedure required by law.

From the Maple Ridge Concerned Citizens

Amy Steele of the times nails it in the opening line of her latest
article regarding Northumberland Court when she describes it as a drawn
out saga.


What we at MRCCC have to add to this story is a discussion
about the other race that is going on over Northumberland Court, and
this race is around whether Steve Creighton will be around as the
administrator after June 30 to keep pursuing court actions against
the city over the other remedial actions imposed on Northumberland Court.

The initial court case, Kwasnica v Strata Plan NW8 - #076868, that
brought about a court appointed administrator was based around the idea
that an administrator would bring order to the complex, and this would
take a finite amount of time. When one looks at the last six months we
have a total of 7 police raids, two shootings, one arson attempt, and
who can forget the recent incident with the police tactical team being
called out while the helicopter circled overhead for a few hours.
Suffice to say after all that one would be hard pressed to say that
things are in order at Northumberland Court, and now the time imposed by
the judge to have an administrator is just about up.

Reading the oral judgment from case #076868 the term set by Judge
Melnick had the administrator in place until June 30 2009. Looking at
the calender that day is fast approaching. Why this matters is because
depending on whether the administrator is re-appointed by the courts or
the appointment expires will largely dictate how many more times
Northumberland Court ends up in Provincial court. It is baffling though
how much money has been spent, and looks to be spent, on court cases.
The question that constantly comes up is why is that money not being
spent on the remedial repairs?

According to Mike Kwasnica,who rents the two suites he owns at
Northumberland, the plan is to get the judge to put definite
orders/actions in to the new appointment of the administrator. His
belief is that if the judge will do this then if Athwal will not perform
these court orders Kwasnica and the Administrator will then take him to
court again to get these orders/actions enforced. Before all of this
though the administrator will have to enter into another race with the
city to get an injunction in court against the city remedial actions because
those are due July 31 09, essential one month from now. Now assuming
that Kwasinca and the Administrator can get definite orders put into the
appointment of the administrator they will still have to go through the
process of getting Athwal to perform the tasks and when Athwal does not
(see the case the city brought against Athwal regarding Morse Creek)
this will add another court case to show that he is not complying with
the court order. Assuming the two of them can show that Athwal is not
and will not perform the tasks they will then have to begin the process
of collecting the money to get the tasks done, which will be another
court case.

Once again, lots of time in court, lots of money being spent and nothing
substantial changing at Northumberland Court. If any readers are
wondering why Mike Kwasnica, who by the way was the one to step up to
stop the demolish last time, is fighting so hard to save Athwal's burnt
out suites the reason is he has plans to purchase them and rehabilitate
them and all of us are supposed to sit back until November 2011 which is
the time line he is giving that this will all be solved. MRCCC made
enquiries as to whether the community could have any say into this
re-appointment or at the very least present that it has an inherent
interest in how this complex is run and by who, but as has been the case
many times in trying to get a solution if you can't afford lawyers you
can't be heard by the court system.

So where does this leave everyone that is living in and around, and
experiencing the daily affects of Northumberland? As hard as this group
has been on the city they are the best hope all of us have that this
will be settled in the next few months as opposed to several years. The
recent action to push forward with the demolition is a good sign the
city is giving this situation the attention it has been lacking for the
last six years. There are still many questions to ask the city in
regards to how this situation has been handled, and why it was handled
differently then other similar situations, but for now what is most
important is a long term positive solution that will respect the rights
of all residents and help to promote a safer community that is not
constantly subjected to situations that are dangerous and harmful to
everyone around them. Let's hope the city keeps up the pace, this is far
from over and though still too early to say that the end of this whole
debacle is near, one may be able to say that actions are on the table so
perhaps there is a glimmer that by the end of August we will see a very
different, and hopefully more positive situation at Northumberland Court.

One final note. MRCCC is looking at putting together a meeting that
ideally will have both MLA's in attendance. This meeting will give an
over view of SCAN (Safe Communities And Neighbourhoods) legislation.
Several other provinces already have this legislation in place and it
has proven quite affective in allowing communities to get concrete
action taken on issues by going through the Provincial office of the
Solicitor General as opposed to criminal court.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Golden Ears may herald new era for the City of Maple Meadows

From time to time - and this is one of those times - the issue of merging Pitt Meadows with Maple Ridge is raised.

With the combined populations now close to 100,000 it is probably the right time to consider once more the pros and cons of combining these two communities.

In truth they do not have much to offer one another as such. And the beneficiaries of such a merger would only be the citizens so it will be hard to convince the politicians and, moreover, the staff of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge that a merger would be desirable.

The present existence of our combined Parks and Recreation and joint RCMP seems for the most part to be functioning, so there is already to some degree precedent set for a universal merger.

Individually and, more pointedly, as separate civic entities, the Golden Ears Bridge has transported these two up-to-now somnambulant communities into a much larger arena in terms of competition.

We are dwarfed in every sense of the word by Surrey and Langley (oddly I saw a taxi from Abbotsford in Maple Ridge yesterday, which was a first for me) and if we are to take these communities on recreationally and economically we can do so better as a team rather than in our current independent state.

With Translink in the hotseat one is tempted to speculate that one council representing 100,000 people will fare (no pun intended) much better than the current, limp, two-district 75,000/17,000 combination.

A smaller, tighter, proactive team of fresh young politicians supported by fresh young and innovative staff, - visionaries, if you will - could step in to take Maple Meadows City into the middle of this century and beyond.

Certainly, there is room for both praise and crticism in Pitt Meadows as much as there is Maple Ridge. It makes sense, however, to amalgamate or merge as with any luck such a marriage would see the nasty stuff eliminated and only the good remaining. One should be aware however of landing up with only the dross.

Recently a woman made a very interesting comment to me. We were talking about downtown Maple Ridge and the battle for its revival. She felt that the problem was that we were trying to sovle the downtown problems in a top-down fashion whereas the solution would be better addressed in a 'people up' model. I agree. To ensure the continued revival of our downtown we need to fill the streets with pedestrians, young and old, with students, shoppers, visitors and families. In her her words she felt that the revival needs to 'bubble up from the streets' as opposed to being handed down from above by the politicians and bureaucrats. I agree with her on that too.

Anyone who has visited a town with a large university or campus as its centre will tell you what she means. It struck me that one of the assets in the combined Maple Meadows City may be a campus, built where the Haney Place Mall now stands. Unless it is transformed by the current owner into something that matches the era it occupies, it serves little or no purpose; unless of course we count it as a parking lot for film crews.

Combine our communities will make us a player in the valley. With 'buying power' and shared intellect going forward we can utilize our larger tax base to make this north east corner of the valley heard. If we do not we run the risk of not being simply a Johnny-come-lately community, but one that never arrived at all.

Monday, June 22, 2009

From: Maple Ridge Concerned citizens website

According to the agenda for Tuesday night's city council meeting, item number 800 is an update on what is occurring at Northumberland Court. Oddly enough this will be only a verbal report and there is nothing in the package to give some idea of what will be discussed. Whether at the end of the report there will be a question period remains to be seen. Regardless, those who are able to attend and willing to sit through an entire council meeting will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the progress, or lack there of at Northumberland Court. For this reason the following question will ideally be asked at the council meeting on June 23rd.

- For years the city has made reference to the strata act of BC as the reason it has allowed the abuse at NW8 to carry on for so long. Could you please inform the citizens of Maple Ridge what sections of the Strata Act have rendered the city unable to act in any meaningful way and allowed one individual to run roughshod over the rights of an entire community?

- At the last council meeting questions were not answered because it was stated that the city is facing legal action, but when one searches the court filings at Vancouver, New Westminster, and Coquitlam they do now show that the District of Maple Ridge is facing any court actions tied into Northumberland Court. Can you please state what court case is against the city, which court house it is being heard in and what is the court case number?

- Please give the details of the business license suspension of Jagdev (Jack) Singh Athwal: how long will it last, what process needs to be followed for him to get his business license back, is he allowed to still be a landlord if the suites are already occupied, feel free to add anything that will shed some light on this situation.

- It has now come to light that the provincial government is again sending cheques for lodging to buildings at Northumberland Court even though the land lord has had his business license suspended, what is the city doing to enforce this suspension and ensure that it's own bylaws are respected, put another way why should citizens respect the bylaws of Maple Ridge if the provincial government does not?t

- Hypothetically speaking If a building has had it's gas, electrical and plumbing system tampered with what level of tampering would have to occur for it to still have an occupancy permit?

- Building Bylaw 6180-2003 which regulates the alteration, repair, and demolition of buildings and structures in Maple Ridge states in section 32.1 that “Every person who contravenes any provision of this bylaw commits an offence punishable on summary conviction and shall be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 dollars or to imprisonment for not more than six months.” Would this bylaw apply to the owner of a structure who has knowledge that these alterations has occurred?

There have been no updates to the website for the last several weeks due to computer difficulties, these problems have been fixed and the hope is to update the website over the next week.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

No need for big box in Albion or small box in Maple Ridge town centre now

Now that Surrey and Langley have opened their malls - for those who actually need these things - the shoppers of our little village need no longer pine for a mall in the Albion or any other location in Maple Ridge.

We can all take our dollars South (and it seems this weekend we already did) and the poor buggers in Surrey and Langley who need a mountain to climb, or a lake to swim in can visit glorious Maple Ridge. And before they leave they van pick up a souvenir at one of our dollar stores, snack on some fast food, take a tourist pic of Northumberland Court (I visited Haney this weekend and got the T-shirt).

The politicians and staff in Maple Ridge have spent decades discussing local issues and totally ignored the world as it goes about its business beyond our borders. Oddly, this may work in our favour.

Like so many I drove the Golden Ears Bridge this week. I have to say that the journey south into the wasteland (smelly wasteland) of industrial oblivion was not nearly as pleasant as returning to the vista of mountains and green landscapes driving north.

So, now we really are the West Vancouver of the Valley. Nothing but recreation and fun. I'm good with that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Response to a "likely story"

This guy’s theory is juvenile, an old doomsday theme and ignores the natural balancing act of the free market. If the dollar drops, US goods become cheaper to export and imports shrink because they are too expensive. If the dollar drops, paying back the loans becomes cheaper and all the foreign banks lose, including the Asians who have invested heavily in North America.

The restructuring of the US steel industry led to increased competitiveness, the auto industry will follow in 2-3 years. The desperate situation has allowed for a hastening of the needed cost cutting and the leaner result will be very competitive when the market returns.

America was first into the recession and will be one of the first out again. (if not the first) These developing countries need the US market for their products and they will suffer worse if they dry up.

Their protectionism will hurt them more than help them , we’ve seen this in the past and their banking systems have been disasters at times.

It is a global market today and the balance will be maintained over time. In the end, competition will determine the winners. I also wouldn’t be so quick to write off the will of the US people, if Obama allows the natural process to occur and doesn’t legislate too much expensive socialism, the competitive spirit will fight back and US industry will be even stronger. Everyone in North America will reap the benefits from this.

If all else fails, they will just nuke the bastards……….isn’t that why they overspend on “defense”?


Chris Johnson

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A likely story?

The American Empire Is Bankrupt

Posted on Jun 14, 2009

By Chris Hedges

This week marks the end of the dollar's reign as the world's reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That's over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful.

Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt. And these nations are damned if they are going to continue to prop up an inflated dollar and sustain the massive federal budget deficits, swollen to over $2 trillion, which fund America's imperial expansion in Eurasia and our system of casino capitalism. They have us by the throat. They are about to squeeze.

There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully. The gathering is, in the words of economist Michael Hudson, "the most important meeting of the 21st century so far."

It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world's reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a saviour, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.

I called Hudson, who has an article in Monday's Financial Times called "The Yekaterinburg Turning Point: De-Dollarization and the Ending of America's Financial-Military Hegemony." "Yekaterinburg," Hudson writes, "may become known not only as the death place of the czars but of the American empire as well." His article is worth reading, along with John Lanchester's disturbing exposé of the world's banking system, titled "It's Finished," which appeared in the May 28 issue of the London Review of Books.

"This means the end of the dollar," Hudson told me. "It means China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran are forming an official financial and military area to get America out of Eurasia. The balance-of-payments deficit is mainly military in nature. Half of America's discretionary spending is military. The deficit ends up in the hands of foreign banks, central banks. They don't have any choice but to recycle the money to buy U.S. government debt. The Asian countries have been financing their own military encirclement. They have been forced to accept dollars that have no chance of being repaid. They are paying for America's military aggression against them. They want to get rid of this."

China, as Hudson points out, has already struck bilateral trade deals with Brazil and Malaysia to denominate their trade in China's yuan rather than the dollar, pound or euro. Russia promises to begin trading in the ruble and local currencies. The governor of China's central bank has openly called for the abandonment of the dollar as reserve currency, suggesting in its place the use of the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights. What the new system will be remains unclear, but the flight from the dollar has clearly begun. The goal, in the words of the Russian president, is to build a "multipolar world order" which will break the economic and, by extension, military domination by the United States. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency. This is why Aluminum Corp. of China made so many major concessions in the failed attempt to salvage its $19.5 billion alliance with the Rio Tinto mining concern in Australia. It desperately needs to shed its dollars.

"China is trying to get rid of all the dollars they can in a trash-for-resource deal," Hudson said. "They will give the dollars to countries willing to sell off their resources since America refuses to sell any of its high-tech industries, even Unocal, to the yellow peril. It realizes these dollars are going to be worthless pretty quickly."

The architects of this new global exchange realize that if they break the dollar they also break America's military domination. Our military spending cannot be sustained without this cycle of heavy borrowing. The official U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion, before we add on things like nuclear research. The next closest national military budget is China's, at $65 billion, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

There are three categories of the balance-of-payment deficits. America imports more than it exports. This is trade. Wall Street and American corporations buy up foreign companies. This is capital movement. The third and most important balance-of-payment deficit for the past 50 years has been Pentagon spending abroad. It is primarily military spending that has been responsible for the balance-of-payments deficit for the last five decades. Look at table five in the Balance of Payments Report, published in the Survey of Current Business quarterly, and check under military spending. There you can see the deficit.

To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem. If a central bank does not spend the money in the United States then the exchange rate against the dollar will go up. This will penalize exporters. This has allowed America to print money without restraint to buy imports and foreign companies, fund our military expansion and ensure that foreign nations like China continue to buy our treasury bonds. This cycle appears now to be over. Once the dollar cannot flood central banks and no one buys our treasury bonds, our empire collapses. The profligate spending on the military, some $1 trillion when everything is counted, will be unsustainable.

"We will have to finance our own military spending," Hudson warned, "and the only way to do this will be to sharply cut back wage rates. The class war is back in business. Wall Street understands that. This is why it had Bush and Obama give it $10 trillion in a huge rip-off so it can have enough money to survive."

The desperate effort to borrow our way out of financial collapse has promoted a level of state intervention unseen since World War II. It has also led us into uncharted territory.

"We have in effect had to declare war to get us out of the hole created by our economic system," Lanchester wrote in the London Review of Books. "There is no model or precedent for this, and no way to argue that it's all right really, because under such-and-such a model of capitalism ... there is no such model. It isn't supposed to work like this, and there is no road-map for what's happened."

The cost of daily living, from buying food to getting medical care, will become difficult for all but a few as the dollar plunges. States and cities will see their pension funds drained and finally shut down. The government will be forced to sell off infrastructure, including roads and transport, to private corporations. We will be increasingly charged by privatized utilities-think Enron-for what was once regulated and subsidized. Commercial and private real estate will be worth less than half its current value. The negative equity that already plagues 25 percent of American homes will expand to include nearly all property owners. It will be difficult to borrow and impossible to sell real estate unless we accept massive losses. There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Negative Conservative advertising has a positive effect

The daily onslaught of the same negative advertisement against Michael Ignatief was at first simply childish and rude. Now, having been pummeled to numbness by this advertisement for weeks, it has driven me firmly into the Liberal fold.

The negative ads by the Conservatives, should they continue to be aired, will bury the Conservative party for years to come. It is a shame, because Conservative, without Harper, and without the infantile negative philosophy for campaigning, could probably do some good for the country.

The Liberals must be thrilled and delighted at the Conservative lack of tact and finesse. And overjoyed at having Canada handed back to them, so loyally and ably assisted by the Conservatives. We told almost daily how smart Stephen Harper is. One wonders now if this is just another example of the Conservative lie.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"I" can sink a leader

"I" - for want of a better word - have noticed an uncomfortable overuse of the word "I" in Barack Obama's speech patterns.

It is common to use the word frequently during a campaign, but when the "I" word is used several times in one sentence in the course of almost every speech thereafter then the speaker runs the risk of coming across like a spoilt brat. Heaven forbid that one should label the chief executive orator as a spoilt brat, but given time someone is bound to notice this trend and make an issue of it.

Another man has done quite well in modern times using the "we" word. His name is Nelson Mandela. Barack may do himself a favour during a day off and take time to view some of Nelson's speech's. Doing so may earn him a second term. Ignoring this simple advice may send him to an early political demise along with all the other leaders who put "I" before "we". After all, it is the "we" the people who get "I" the leader elected.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Conference News - courtesy Global Rock Exchange

VANCOUVER- “Sombre” is a word favoured by many writers when describing the mood at mining conferences during downturns. The word nearly occurred here until, on reflection, the venue and day and season were taken into consideration; Vancouver, Sunday, summer. “Relaxed” seemed a more appropriate adjective.

So it was a relaxed mood that greeted this reporter yesterday, Sunday June 7 at the opening of 2009 World Resource Investment Conference held in the spectacular new Vancouver Convention Centre.

The usual suspects, exhibitors and visitors populated the aisles, though fewer in number. It crossed my mind that some of the gentlemen who strolled the aisles may simply have used the conference as an excuse to get out of mowing the lawn, clearing out the attic or perhaps washing the car.

The conference drew some 200 exhibitors. One exhibitor expressed his disappointment as he’d been given to understand that there’d be a strong renewable energy theme or presence at this conference. If this was indeed supposed to be weighted toward the renewable sector then it was well disguised. I did see two hybrid vehicles on display and a run of river exhibitor, but that was about it.

Anyone interested in learning the true purpose of this convention would have to have attended the two 30 minute panel discussions from 5:30PM to 6:30PM in the Speaker Hall where the subjects was titled sequentially “Gold, Silver & Currencies” and “The Recovery? Are we?” The panels, MC’d by Michael Border of Border Gold Corp., comprised David Morgan silver investor.com, Jon Nadler, KITCO, Roger Wiegand Trader Tracks, John Kaiser Bottom Fish Report, Paul van Eeden Investor Analyst and Letter Editor, Michael Berry Morning Notes, Rick Rule Global Resource Investments Ltd. and Greg McCoach The Mining Speculator.

The panels covered everything from the relationship between gold and the US dollar, gold and silver and importantly ‘how we got into this mess’ and is the route we have chosen to get out of this mess i.e. is the bailout, the smart thing to do. To a man, the panel concluded that Washington is on the wrong track. It was agreed that flogging the dead horse of debt with further debt would lead only to more dead horses (my words no the panel’s).

There was an interestingly vitriolic and surprising attack on our saviour of hope, Barack (“Barry” to his school mates, according to one panel member) Obama by the whole panel with van Eeeden describing the current bailout, TARP and other stimulus packages as outright insane and people who elected this administration as ‘stupid’. He found little resistance to that premise.

The other big issue was China. We were warned not to put all our eggs in China – nothing to do with avian flu of course. The big problem the panel had with the China syndrome is that the base and precious metals producers should be cautioned against putting their faith in economic information and growth data – particularly with respect to infrastructure – that is reported by the Chinese regime. The reason for this cautious approach is that being China, it is feared that the information is over-controlled and doubtless manipulated to suit Chinese goals rather than those of the supplier nations. Interesting, I thought. Only a few weeks ago I watched a documentary on the life and times of Chairman Mao. In part, the documentary reminded the viewer of how Mao fudged the agricultural output numbers for the great republic in 1950s. Could it be that ‘little has changed”.

We spotted at least two Global Rock Exchange members in the sparse crowd. George Read of Shoregold delivered an excellent presentation on developments at Shoregold’s diamond project in Saskatchewan. Brett Whitelaw was also spotted multi-tasking between booths.

Those who chose to stay for the dinner enjoyed Wild Mushroom Crostini, Pepper Crusted New York Steak and a Strawberry Romanoff Puff with Dark Chocolate Sauce. The restaurant overlooks the North Shore Mountains with Coal Harbour marina in the foreground. Not bad.

Buried in debt

A friend spotted me at a mining conference yetserday and commented: "Hey, if you are here the market must be turning!"

"Sure," I said,".......in its grave".

Saturday, June 06, 2009

From the Maple Ridge Concerned Citizens

Today June 6th should have a been a big day for Maple Ridge, not just the community of Haney, but the city as a whole. Unfortunately the situation at Northumberland Court is eerily like it was in 2006. Like in 2006 we have Athwal saying he doesn't care, tear down the burnt out building, and then there is Mike Kwasnica who owns two suites at Northumberland (neither of them in the burnt out building), saying the building can be saved. Anyone that has been following this situation knows well enough that Athwal will never repair that building. Those that doubt this take the time to research the feud between Athwal and the city over Morse Creek.

Going by Mayor Daykin's comments in the local papers there is still a plan by the city to see that the remedial actions imposed by the city will be followed through. Hopefully this will be the case. The difference between now and 2006 though is the MRCCC is hopeful that the community does not let council or staff forget what they have said in council chambers and what the staff has said in their written public reports.

For this reason we are hopeful to get a good turn out to the council meeting on June 9th, which begins at 7pm. There are the usual type of agenda items being discussed that require various requirement agreements and change in covenants so unless something comes out of the blue this should be a fairly straight forward meeting.

Because the case of Northumberland Court is again before the courts all members of the public that don't want this issue pushed to the side and forgotten by council and staff should make the effort to appear on June 9th to ask questions as to what is the current plan for the court case and what is the future plan for Northumberland as a whole. Questions from the public can occur during agenda item number 1800 'questions from the public.' Everyone is encourage to come out and ask whatever questions are on their mind and if you don't have a specific question but would like to contribute to a long term solution some example questions are below.

- Given that the chief of the fire department has stated that in the event of a fire, neither he nor his crew will enter building 11731, also known as the burnt out building, and given that the demolition of this structure is again tied up in court, will the city erect proper fencing around the building to ensure that it is not entered and occupied? Yes or No

- Given the condition of building 11731 Fraser St, also known as the burnt out building, and given that the chief of the fire department stated in these chambers that he, nor his crew will enter the building in the event of a fire has the city taken out extra liability insurance in the event someone is injured or killed in the building should it once again go up in flames? Yes or No

- Has the city been in touch with the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance to prepare for the possibility that the remedial repairs ordered by the city on the buildings at Northumberland Court will not be completed by the due date and for this reason there will be residents who will be left living in substandard housing that according to city staff reports leaves occupants in danger of respiratory problems, fire hazards and structural collapse? Yes or No

- To ensure public confidence in this process regarding the condition of the buildings at Northumberland Court will the city publish a complete schedule showing that all remedial repairs, as out lined by staff reports, have been completed, and where necessary completed by a certified professional? Yes or No

- In December 08 building number 20639 Maple Crescent was damaged by heavy snow falls, this building had tenants that had to vacate due to concerns about the structural integrity of the building. The tenants were given accommodation through Maple Ridge Emergency Social Services and Alouette Home Start Society. Given that the city staff reports issued in March and April regarding the condition of the buildings at Northumberland Court and the level of remedial repairs required at most of the buildings has the city of Maple Ridge offered the same services to those tenants who are renting at Northumberland? Yes or No

- Recently a historical building at 20639 Maple Crescent was deemed uninhabitable and demolished, given that staff reports presented to council though the months of March and April have statements regarding Northumberland Court buildings that read as follows: “Due to water ingress into the building at the exterior grade line the structural integrity of the buildings and its structural components are deteriorating to the point where repairs must be performed to prevent collapse of the building and harm to the buildings occupants.” These same reports also stated that 11701unit 13 – Load Bearing wall has been removed 11723 unit 6 – floor joists removed. Please explain the difference between these two instances and whether the city take the same decisive action regarding the buildings at Northumberland Court? Yes or No

- Staff reports regarding the state of repair of a number of suites at Northumberland Court included several mentions of mold on drywall and in crawl spaces, along with mentions of stagnate water and sewer water being found within buildings and also within building crawl spaces. My question will the city ensure the air quality in these structures is breathable and will not cause other health issues be testing the air quality of these buildings? Yes or No

- Mr Mayor could you, or a member of staff please explain the difference between the building at 20639 Maple Crescent and the danger it posed to its inhabitants and why it was so quickly vacated and why the buildings at Northumberland Court that according to staff reports are also facing structural collapse have not been vacated?

MRCCC should be sending out another update on Monday regarding the court case itself. To date, nothing is posted on the BC Civil Court site. An inquiry to the court found that the courts posting system is currently four weeks behind. Whether this means that the court case is then four weeks behind and for this reason it might be the case that it could be months before this is heard by a judge. All the more reason to speak up to council and question what is happening now and what will happen next, and most importantly are council and staff ready and willing to act.

Friday, June 05, 2009

By my estimation

It matters not whether one is over-estimated or under-estimated. That one is estimated at all, is matter enough.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A wild guess

The shopping debate rages on in Maple Ridge. Should a typical bland, big box boresville be built in the Albion to appease Mr. and Mrs. Shopaholic who recently moved into their dream home in Maple Ridge East?

Or should the small, not so profitable, theft-ridden niche retailers continue their valiant battle in Maple Ridge's downtown?

We can be forgiven for not wanting to hear another word on this subject, but it has crossed Radio Haney's thought waves that what we will find as a final outcome is a fully developed downtown, densified, satisfied, sanctified and - much to the delight of many - an equally developed Albion with all but the hardiest of shrubs buried deep below a mixed development of sports fields, small industry, some townhouses, a cinema, a soccer stadium, a light hi-tech industrial park and yep, a big box centre with all the national and international names one would expect.

In time, the industrial wasteland south of the Lougheed will also have its socks pulled up by some visionary developer or the other.

It is not the end of world. Just the end of the past world.

The urge to shop is a curious phenomenon. Most people don't need to shop at all, other than for food and home essentials. Perhaps if one were able to find quality goods in our shops it would be less necessary to go out and replace them so often? Perhaps too, if buildings were built with the notion of surviving more than a couple of decades we would be assured of not building the slums of the future.

Ah well, humans have a shelf-life so why not everything else as well. By all accounts the planet too has a shelf-life and if we are to believe what so many believe then even the Earth's expiry date is fast closing in on us. With that in mind, where we shop or don't shop, seems less rather than more of a priority.

Commercial interests are working frantically at profiting from the notion of retail-or-perish thinking. Our politicians and public servants hopefully are working with other, higher aims on the agenda; that is to say, the safety, security and happiness of the greater community. We say 'hopefully' sincerely - there can be no certainty as to the ability of government to meet its stated objectives. Integrity, one hopes, lingers not too forlorn in the halls of decision-making.

As for Maple Ridge, it seems apparent that this is a town focused on small business and the endeavours of the individual entrepreneur, the lone sailors - rather than the captains - of industry. In an odd reversal of things as we know them, it is almost as though the small businesses in Maple Ridge are what keeps the big businesses from entering Maple Ridge. We lack for nothing, other than large employers. In a simple response, we are thus forced, by all accounts, to employ ourselves in a legion of the self-employed. That is us. That is Maple Ridge. Self-sufficient. Self-employed. Self-starting.

The big guys will drift into town from time to time, sure. Some may choose to give the 'Ridge' a shot. Some will get caught in the City of Pitt Meadows. Some will pass on by to Mission. The impact of the two bridges is - at least Radio Haney thinks so - woefully underestimated by the technicians and politicians. From July 2009 Maple Ridge will never be the same.