What are your thoughts on the hot topic of developing Thornhill, as it is the Urban Reserve. Council had the topic on it’s agenda for discussion on Monday workshop meeting but it was delayed till the new council is elected. Also which candidate would you prefer to have as your mayor?
I am not in support of developing Thornhill at this time. Building there will just add costs to the city budget and result in more tax increases. I would like to encourage re-development of land with slightly higher densities on the west side (specifically near our schools that have low utilization). Slightly higher densities meaning subdividing a large lot into 2 or 4 smaller lots or a couple duplexes. We don’t need to completely change the character of a neighbourhood by putting a high density townhouse development next to large single-family lots. This will make better use of the school resources we have and start to correct the imbalance we have in our schools.
I have not yet decided on a Mayoral candidate. I could work well with any of them but I am still weighing the positives and negatives.
Do you believe the tax increases have been fair and in line with cost of living? How do you feel our taxes compare with communities of similar size across Canada?
Give me a concise one sentence statement why I should vote for you.
No, the tax increases over the past number of years have been excessive. I wouldn’t be someone who would demand a zero-increase budget, as I think that can also hurt us over the long term but we need to control any increases to a more reasonable rate.
If you do a straight statistical comparison using a standard typical property, or an average house value from each community, we compare favourably. This is especially true when comparing Cities within the Lower Mainland. I hesitate to make comparisons like this though because the services provided vary from city to city so it’s not necessarily comparing apples to apples. We need to do a better job demonstrating the value we get for the money we contribute, and making adjustments in areas where we aren’t delivering.
I have the passion to make Maple Ridge a better stronger community, both in the short term and in the long term, and the willingness to listen to people and share ideas to make that happen.
What can you tell me about Silver Ridge and Valley? (plus a comment related to shopping)
Development in this area was done incorrectly, we should have waited until we had some money saved for some of the amenities and asked developers for larger contributions so that we could build (and maintain properly) a complete community, not residential-only with the promise of more “sometime” in the future.
But the past is done and we need to move forward in a way that will correct this, but in a way that will not result in significant tax increases. That means we can’t do everything right away. But we need to come up with a plan, in consultation with the community, to determine what we are going to do, in what order (prioritized), with time frames attached, and then follow through on those promises.
I have a proposed solution to allow primary-aged kids to attend school in their community (see http://www.alexpope.org/?p=1223 for more information). I think this, or a variation of this plan, should be implemented right away. I have had conversations with several people, include other council candidates and school board candidates, and the feedback I am getting is that it could work.
Regarding the shopping, people open up shops that they think will make money here. Either they have done some market research and are confirming that is something people want, or they haven’t and they’re just crossing their fingers and hoping. I think the shopping we have is a consequence of how many people are shopping locally (and who) and how many people are taking their money elsewhere. Council can’t tell someone they must open a particular type of shop, but there are some things we can do. Check out this blog post with some more thoughts from me on this problem, and what we need to do to fix this: http://www.alexpope.org/?p=1252