Radio Haney received a telephone call from an information person today informing us that Smart Centres will be making yet another presentation to the District of Maple Ridge council on January 12 in an attempt to convince this community that it needs a shopping centre on the Albion Flats flood plain.
First off, why would one build a shopping centre at all in this town when we are surrounded by more regional shopping centres than you can shake a Visa credit card at.
Second, while Smart Centres has optioned a tiny parcel of bits and pieces of the Albion they will need a lot more land in order to make sense of the their madcap scheme. And RH has it on good authority that Smart Centres will have to negotiate with some pretty unsavoury characters in order to complete its land assembly for this abomination.
Third, the Smart Centres group is jumping the gun - a skill they have mastered over the years - when it comes to the Albion. Everyone who is vaguely interested in this dump knows that the District has plans for an area plan which it claims will be a public information format whereby the public has its say. The public know full well what the Smart Centres management are about to find out for themselves - public opinion counts for nothing in the District of Maple Ridge (ask anyone who had anything to offer by way of opinion on the Jackson farm matter). Corporate opinion counts for less. The opinion of developers and their teams bottoms out the list of influential players in this cheerful little jurisdiction.
Fourth, the District of Maple Ridge totally denies that it is pariah of the development community. Most of its time is spent in public relations activity aimed at un-tainting its well tarnished reputation. In a sense the District of Maple Ridge and Smart Centres deserve one another. A marriage made in planning hell.
In order to get a clear and uninterrupted view of what Maple Ridge is going to look like in say 20 or 30 years from now one has only to drive 15 minutes west and take a look at Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.
For those of us in Maple Ridge who can't wait 20 years all one has to do is make use of the short freeway that connects Maple Ridge to our over-developed friends west of here. For those who have a fear of Smart Centres setting up any time soon in the Ridge, rest assured that if you are over 40 it won't happen in your lifetime. And if you don't want to take the risk there are tons of other very nice addresses east of here.
There is no doubt that Maple Ridge is unique. It has its ups and downs and its good and its bad. It is as dull as dish water on even its sunniest days and it may possibly be the birthplace of banality itself, mediocrity's heartland. One thing it enjoys is thwarting off intruders and it does this well, NHL goalie Luongo keeps fewer pucks out than we keep punks out. Smart Centres - if they are really smart - will understand this and pack up and leave town before it is too late. There is nothing here for them. Nothing, at least, that the Ridge can't undo.