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.

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