Monday, September 28, 2009

Maple Ridge plan for SCAN

A well attended meeting this evening by local homeowners, business owners, strata managers, property owners, politicians and activists got a first hand look at the serious problems at the core of the Maple Ridge downtown.

Tyler Ducharme gave a detailed presentation on how SCAN came about, which provinces have adopted SCAN and why British Columbia should follow suit.

Marc Dalton and Michael Sather were clearly moved by what they heard. There is the slim chance that for once the NDP and Liberals have found an issue on which they can can agree. A solution to ending the situations that arise when landlords such as Jagdev Athwal attempt either intentionally or through neglect to destroy vulnerable communities such as Haney.

Watch this space.

Friday, September 25, 2009

And good news for proponents of downtown revival in Maple Ridge

Most of us will be thrilled to learn that three levels of government will be providing north of $5m for for improvements on 224th Street in downtown Maple Ridge. Everything helps. Doubtless there will be complaints during construction. For sure there will be whining about design (Radio Haney can be relied on for that). You can't satisfy everyone - Jackson Farm teaches us that.

Hopefully the money will be well spent. I am sure the good people of Haney would prefer to see the $5m spent on the section from the Haney Bypass north towards the Lougheed, but we won't see that this decade.

It will be interesting to see the results - $5m is a fair chunk of change. The memorial park attempt ran to around $1.8m so we have a little precedent. Much of the money will be spent below grade in order to bring services into this era.

This should please local businesses (please don't complain during construction), the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce.
Add Westminster Savings to the corner of Lougheed and 224th on the Zellers carpark site and one gets the sense that slowly, ever so slowly, Maple Ridge is emerging from the mire of the 1940s and 1950s. It is of course population that stimulates growth and looking around the streets in our downtown it is plain for all to see that we are indeed building density. Finding parking for instance between 223 and 224 on either the south side or the north is now becoming harder and harder. During the SmartGrowth on the Ground exercise we discussed angled parking for this section of town. Angled parking does have its pros and cons, but if we trained traffic to make more use of the Haney Bypass then perhaps angled parking along 224th would be viable. It also, by its nature and look, adds a 'town feel' to the core.
Radio Haney imagines that this work will need to be completed by the time the Olympic torch enters the eastern part of the Fraser Valley. This does not give the District and its contractors much time to get on with the job. If the memorial park fiasco is anything to judge by then we won't make the Olympic deadline.

As the dust settles on Jackson Farm inner city woes in Maple Ridge are aired in Victoria - not a moment too soon.

One final reminder of the community meeting this Monday which will take place at the Fraserview Community Hall at the intersection of 116 Ave and 227 St in Maple Ridge.

As proof that speaking out on this issue is having a positive affect and being heard at the different levels of government the discussion below is taken from the Hansard (draft) notes during the afternoon sitting of September 24^th 2009.

Though the discussion is about the strata act of BC it is important that the situation at Northumberland is being brought up within the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Flaws in the strata act were certainly one of the contributing factors that lead to the decline in community safety in and around Northumberland Court.

*M. Sather:* ...I'll mention right now that we have a situation in Maple Ridge that has been in the news over the last number of years and continues to be. We have an owner-developer that has been so difficult to deal with, has caused so many police resources, so many fire department resources, so many hours by the local government officials to try to deal with this strata property…. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

If there's anything in this act that helps a situation like we have in Maple Ridge — and those in Maple Ridge will know very well of whom I speak — it will be a vast improvement to our lives, because it seems to affect each and every one of us. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

*M. Sather: *Yeah, the member for Maple Ridge–Mission *(M. Dalton)* knows of whom I speak. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The majority owner…. This is a little bit of the history of what's going on, to inform the House on how hopefully useful this legislation is going to be. Through his lawyers, he informed the existing strata council that they were being removed through a vote of non-confidence by the majority owner. At the time, the owner and his family owned 12 of the 20 units, so they just manifestly said: "You guys are out of here." [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

Moving on to a couple of other things that happened. All motions from the floor to put money toward roof repairs and other issues were defeated, and the building is a disaster site. It's run-down. One section of it was burnt-out. The municipality, finally, after years and years of litigation and attempted action, were able just in the last couple of months to get that burnt-out skeleton demolished. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

It's been the site of not only a lot of drug dealing and other illegal activities but some very deplorable conditions that people have been living in down there. It has certainly been distressing to us all. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

The said meeting ended without a budget being passed. He then went on to use his majority of votes to increase the monthly strata fees, and he informed the other owners that he will become the general contractor in regards to repairs of the building — not to worry about any sort of conflict or anything like that. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

It's been particularly contentious in Maple Ridge. As I say, I've met — and I know the member for Maple Ridge–Mission has met — citizens groups that are concerned. Fire, social services — you name it. Local government people just tearing their hair out on how to deal with a strata where the owner-developer simply refuses to cooperate, is litigious, goes to court, fires his lawyer at the last minute, and the process has to start over again. He's very adept at keeping everybody off balance, no doubt about that. [DRAFT TRANSCRIPT ONLY]

For the full draft transcript go to

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jackson Farm - for the moment - falls to urban sprawl

Opponents to the Jacson Farm proposal in Maple Ridge sat in silence Tuesday 22 2009 as council voted 4 to 2 in favour of the proposal. There was never any doubt which way Morden, Hogarth and Dueck would go. As dyed in the wool good old boys urban sprawl is what they dine on daily.

Radio Haney was delighted to see Cheryl Ashlie not allow herself to be sucked in to voting 'yes' on this one.

Linda King steadfast as ever and, to use Ashlie's words 'predictable', voted against this proposal.

The biggest loser, as he will find out at the next election, is Craig Speirs. Radio Haney has for many years suspected that this humdrum of a self-serving politician had duplicitous tendencies.
Speirs voted in favour of going ahead on Jackson Farm and in a single vote washed away his credibility - the little he had remaining - and sits now firmly with the good old boys of Maple Ridge. In a sense he has come of age.

Council will reminded in no uncertain terms of their actions on this matter at the next election.

Hats off to Ashlie and King. 'Off with their heads' to Morden, Dueck, Speirs and Hogarth.

Friday, September 18, 2009

From the MRCC - the latest on Northumberland Court

For anyone that missed it here is a link to the news story that was presented on CTV BC news the other day.

nks to everyone that has been informing other community members about the meeting on September 28th at the Fraserview Community Center.

For anyone that read the article form the Maple Ridge News regarding property tax and the potential short falls the city is facing when it comes to covering expenses, and what has priority and does not when it comes to expenditures of tax money the mayor is quoted as asking is quoted as saying '_what do we not do_?' It is safe to say that one thing the city should not do is repair Jack Athwal's suites and then go through the process of trying to recover the money.

As is stated in the CTV news segment Athwal's mansion on River Road is estimated at 1.7 million and he owns as many a 40 rental properties. The only thing the city should ensure is that the dilapidated suites should be adequately and thoroughly boarded up until after the court appointed administrators tenure is up, ensure their is money in the treasury and get an independent assessment that the cost of repairs will not exceed the cost of an entire rebuild.

Seeing as Athwal has now been quoted numerous times as saying even he does not want the suites repaired it is futile for the city to push forward with repairs if it is facing potential short falls in other areas. Anyone who feels the same is encourage to contact mayor, council and staff to encourage them not to make the wrong decision as to what city tax dollars will be used for.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Can we stop the onslaught of sprawl in Maple Ridge

In a word "no". That does not however change the view of many, many people in Maple Ridge that it is folly - to put it very mildly - to continue expanding this village any further than it already has encroached on it natural surroundings and in the case of farmlands, unnatural green spaces.

Proponents (mostly self-serving, as in the case of Al Hogarth) of development can be heard to say very often that: "The farmland is useless so we may as well get added value, by building on it." Entrenched as they are, they miss the point entirely. The planet can no longer afford to cover over its natural habitat. It simply can't.

What we must do, and 'we' includes Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is resist all temptation to develop any further natural space until such time as all the brownfield and bluefield options have been exhausted.

I wish upon wish that this council will wipe that glazed look off its face and face up to the fact that Jackson Farm cannot be whored-out for the sake of profit. In many ways this postage stamp of a hill represents the last stand in the battle of sprawl against sanity.

The legal arguments are irrelevant. Who said what and when is pointless, whether it was the dying wish of old man Jackson or some clause in the OCP is insignificant. The only issue is the universal realization that destroying green space for human habitation will lead inevitably to the destruction of the very things that sustain the planet and the only conclusion - even the dumbest among must surely understand - is that the final result will impact fatally on our own species.

It was wonderful to hear so many, eloquent speakers argue for the rejection of the proposal now before council with respect to Jackson Farm.

Sadly, there was no indication on the faces of the Mayor or council that they could give two hoots. Politicians and planners in Maple Ridge continue their fearless unabated onslaught on our natural environment. And as one young speaker said during the public hearing on Tuesday night, in what was the most significant statement of the evening:"How dare you?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


"Is it is any wonder that public participation is nil to non-existent when Council makes a mockery of the public process and insults those who volunteered to work on the most recent OCP." Radio Haney September 15, 2009

Farm proposal is no 'donation'

The Times

Published: Tuesday, September 15, 2009


It is with great concern that I write this letter in reference to the upcoming public hearing (tonight, Tuesday) regarding the trade of Lower Jackson Farm to advance development of Upper Jackson Farm to urban density levels in contravention of our Official Community Plan 2006. A trade that is not supported by their own staff.

First of all, this is not a gift or donation referred to by both members of our community and the local press. This is a deal worked out in the backrooms with our council. A gift has no expectation of reciprocation, whereas this deal means that the owners will receive the ability to "break" our Official Community Plan, cross the Urban Containment Boundary and develop 112 lots on rural residential land, bring municipal water (prematurely) to rural lands that service 112 lots because they can afford to pay for it, develop the Urban Reserve without any milestones in our Official Community Plan being met, risk the impact of on our aquifer which services all our wells without a proper study being conducted as promised by our district, but most importantly this is the silent trade that will open the doors prematurely to development for all the speculators who are waiting anxiously for this plan to pass in return for Lower Jackson Farm coming into district hands for free.

Secondly, our community understands that if council is allowed to cross the Urban Boundary prematurely, with this proposal, it will make the entire boundary vulnerable to every other part of our community because they have been allowed to set this precedent.

There is, however, a solution presented by district staff to council, which council and developer have refused. The district could trade district-owned lands (our land), which are already zoned for residential urban development, and this would enable us to acquire Lower Jackson Farm, give fair trade value to the developer and not break our Official Community Plan. If both the developer and council truly want to trade Lower Jackson so that it becomes a community-owned property, then they should both be looking seriously at this option. The district has recently traded land using this method.

This is the first major test for our Official Community Plan as to whether it is worth the paper it is written on and whether we can trust in the process and our council to adhere to it.

Even as it has been said by council that the OCP "gets amended all the time," (in order to minimize the impact and repercussions of such an amendment) never has it been to the extent where Metro Vancouver would need to approve changing our Regional Context Statement (the heart of our Official Community Plan). This is heart transplant, not a simple amendment.

Council is counting on an apathetic and discouraged community who will not react strongly to this important issue of urban sprawl at its best. I think our community is smarter than council thinks and they will contact Metro Vancouver's Planning Department by letter or e-mail about their concerns because Metro Vancouver needs to approve sewer extension and a 50 per cent plus one approval by its members to change our Regional Context Statement. We as a community can appeal to Metro Vancouver's members because this particular proposal opposes all the goals set forth in the new Regional Growth Strategy expected to be passed this fall. So, even if you have lost hope in your local government over this issue, don't forget that there are other hurdles that need to be jumped in order for this to pass. Get your pen out or fire up your computer and start writing. Remember, it's your community.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Northumberland Court moves towards closure, slowly but steadily

The following is from the Maple Ridge Concerned Citizens website:

Please come out and support them if you feel Haney has a future and role to play in the revitalization of the Maple Ridge downtown. Jack Athwal has by his negligence as a property owner opened the door to community action. The community has responded. And thankfully so has the District's politicians and staff.

With the council meeting on September 07 Maple Ridge city hall has begun what will hopefully be one the final chapters of Northumberland Court as it has been for the last several years.

The city has some very important decisions ahead of it in regards to the next moves at Northumberland Court. Though it sounds easy to say the repairs will be done, the cost of such repairs given the overall damage to some of the buildings it may be difficult to justify the costs of repairing privately owned structures using tax payer dollars. This issue is particularly thorny in that if the repairs are done but the management does not change there is a very good chance that everything will be back to how it was two years ago. Let's all hope if the repairs are done the situation does not back slide to how the sorry state that it was over the last few years.

The other issue that is still outstanding is the business license suspension of majority owner Jagdev (Jack) Singh Athwal and how the city plans to enforce its own suspension. It is understood from the September 07 meeting that the city should be getting its legal opinion this week as far as the enforcement options are concerned.

Even though there are still these two outstanding issues it cannot be denied that city has finally responded and has begun to take action. This does not mean that the problems that the neglect of Northumberland Court brought into the community of Haney will disappear in the next few weeks, but it does signal that a different approach will be needed, particularly to deal with the increase in prostitution along North Avenue.

For this reason the MRCCC will begin to wind down its operations with the final community meeting taking place on September 28th at the Fraserview Community Hall. The emphasis of this final meeting will be to encourage both Maple Ridge MLA's to enact SCAN legislation. This type of civil legislation was one of the missing pieces that allowed the situation at Northumberland Court to deteriorate so severally which lead to so many added problems in our community. I would encourage everyone who is available to come out and show your support for this legislation so that there is one more tool available to communities through out the province to deal with similar problems in their communities and neighbourhoods.

There will be a few more updates sent out before September 28th and then things will wrap up. Thanks to everyone that sent and email, made a phone call, wrote a letter, or performed any action that assisted city hall in waking up to how serious the problems in the area were.

Any assistance that can be given to help promote the meeting on the 28th is greatly appreciated. If you know anyone in the media please pass the website address to them to promote the meeting. There are extra promotional posters available at the Fraserview Community Hall 22610 - 116th , if you know of a location that a poster could go please pick one up and get it posted.

Thanks to everyone, it is not over yet, but after so many years things are moving forward as a result of community based action.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ignoramus - someone who ignores things?

Hmmm, yes it seems I have been neglecting my own blog recently. Tut-tut!! Or as the Archbishop in Cape Town would say: "Tutu!"

All the these ways to communicate and so little to communicate.

BreastFest Sunday in Memorial Park was fun. Radio Haney was asked to be the MC and did so, sort of. Not really my gig. Or as the big wolf once said:"Not really my pig." Or as.....oh never mind.

The cool days are pretty welcome. The Ridge is just the same notwithstanding the weather or the season. Same old same old - as I keep hearing when I am up on Lougheed.

Had a hole in one at Cedar Ridge Creek or is that Cedar Creek Ridge. On the 7th short par three - straight in!! Never had that happen before.

Spent a week in California surfing. And a week in Vegas at a wedding. How come it takes as long to get married as it does to go the beach. No really, how come?

So between Facebooking, Twittering and blogging not a hell of a lot else got done this summer.

There seemed to be a little progress over at Jack the Bat's joint. Given the number of hoodies on the street it was a relatively painless summer crime-wise.

It seems a fall election is on the cards. I won't be taking part in any shape or form. An absolute waste of money and my time. Every time I vote for anyone I get a sinking feeling immediately I walk from the booth - local, provincial or federal, I am done with politics.

Radio Haney's only child is now off to college studying film and TV acting. It fun to see her head out the door each morning.

We painted the decks last week. The cats are being quite well behaved. Though you a never know; a cat will turn on you. Just like that!!

Definitely fewer pinks in the Fraser this year. But you already knew that.

Pitt Meadows as a civic organization seems to be way ahead of this village. Truth is it does not matter.

Realty market is quite perky at the moment - that does not matter either.

An odd and eery silence befalls us as we head towards the spookiness of October.