Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The District of Maple Ridge struggles to find contractors to work at Northumberland Court - owner prevails

All signs point towards the city limping along to try and fulfil its obligations when it comes to the clean up of Northumberland Court. Limping along is the best term because to quote an email from Maple Ridge bylaws manger Brock McDonald:

“The letter advised that Units 13, 14, 16, 17 and 18 must be vacated by November 1, 2009 ...”

It should come as no surprise that the city has missed their own deadline once again because 18 is still occupied. It speaks volumes for how seriously the city takes its responsibility on this issue.

Not including the suites where the city has failed to enforce its own deadline, there are four more Athwal suites that are supposed to be closed down for repairs by December 1st. If the city does act by December 1st on these suites, as well as the suites where the deadline has passed, this will signal that an end to this advocacy is on the horizon. This is not to say that the advocacy will stop over night, but if the city lives up to its word and shuts down the remaining Athwal apartments it is safe to say that sometime after December 1^st MRCCC will come to an end. That could be a big if considering city hall has missed two successive deadlines, so we'll see what happens.

Taking a leap of faith that the city will in the end live up to its word what will happen after that will be largely up to the community. Ideally a residents community association that could work on issues in conjunction with other downtown / south of Lougheed groups such as the Fraserview Community Association, or other similar groups that want to ensure that what has been gained is not lost due to neglect, or in-action on behalf of the city. South of Lougheed (Haney/downtown Maple Ridge) is still faced with a number of issues and a residents community association would be a step in the direction towards dealing with these issues through a united front.

The idea of promoting SCAN legislation will carry on, but will take the form of a provincial advocacy group. Because SCAN affects the whole province the hope is that citizens through out the province will take part in this initiative. Residents of Maple Ridge can still play an active and leading role in this process and all signs are that both MLA's are still committed to the idea of SCAN so this is an opportunity to create a positive long term affect for both the city and the province as a whole

As far as where SCAN legislation is within the mechanisms of government, it is safe to say that the first steps are just being taken. Getting legislation passed is a long, but doable journey. At this point there will be much in the way of discussions within the government and its many committees around how to, or if, the province should implement SCAN. What that implementation will look like and how it will work with other existing legislation and provincial acts.

In a nut shell legislation goes through three main sections which are the first, second and third readings. The real challenge though is to get legislation to the proposal stage, ideally for the Spring session so it can get to first reading. Before this can happen though, it must go to the legislative committee of the ruling government party. If SCAN can be put forward to the legislative committee this will begin the process. The other option is to have SCAN presented as a private member's bill. Nothing wrong with this on the face of it, but the truth of the matter is private member's bill rarely get passed.

The plan is that a website dedicated to the promotion of SCAN legislation will be posted in the early new year and the work can begin in earnest from that point.

In closing, this has been a long hard fought battle but one that needed to happen. Thanks to everyone that had the courage to stand up and demand their rights. Many things have come out of this experience and one that stands out is that rights on paper to not necessarily translate to rights one is supposed to experience day to day. If the government of the day does not respect your rights then you must be prepared to make that government respect them, because if you don't, those rights don't exist.

The ball is the city's court, they came up with the current time line so it is a question as to whether they will live up to it or let this carry on for who knows how long.

Thanks again to everyone that has participated. What has been accomplished would not have happened with out you.

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