Q&A: Transit Referendum

I received the following two questions from the Metro Vancouver Alliance regarding the upcoming transit referendum.

Will you actively campaign, and encourage your supporters to vote for the Mayors’ transit funding plan in the upcoming Transit Referendum?

This is difficult to answer because we don’t know what the question will be yet. I would like to be able to be vocal in my support, but am unwilling to promise that until I know how the referendum question will be phrased. I think this is an opportunity to do a full review of how Translink is funded and come up with a fair and equitable solution that is then presented in the referendum.

Will you actively advocate for affordable transit in the region for all?

Yes, transit needs to be affordable, convenient, and reliable across the region. Currently, in Maple Ridge specifically, we are falling short of that goal.

Q&A: Questions from Voters

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

Q&A: Alouette River Management Society

1. Would all elected council and mayor abide by the City of Maple Ridge SPR regulations, or do they agree with the provincial RAR regulations and would bring this subject up in future council discussions?

I feel strongly that we should be doing everything we can to protect our streams into order to maintain (and, in some cases, restore) healthy fish populations. The provincial RAR regulations are insufficient for this purpose so I support staying with the current Maple Ridge SPR regulations.

2. Would all elected council and mayor be in support of the City of Maple Ridge OCP specifically as it applies to the recent development proposal (23895 124th Ave, and 12469, 12507, 12555, and 12599 240th Street)?

I would be supportive of the Maple Ridge OCP in this situation. The location is not appropriate for the increased density proposed in this development, not only because of the impact on the Alouette River, but due to the additional expenditures required by the City if this project goes ahead that will result in further property tax increases.

3. What is your position on protecting and preserving our wildlife corridors and natural waterways? What affect you think this will have on housing and industrial development?

There is no question that we should be protecting and preserving wildlife corridors and natural waterways. This not only benefits local wildlife but green space can contribute to a more comfortable neighbourhood and increased property values.

4. Are you supportive of an Environmental Advisory Committee as proposed to Council? If yes, what would your 3 priorities be for the committee?

Yes, I support the concept of an Environmental Advisory Committee. I would suggest that priorities should include: review and advise on existing and in-progress area plans to ensure that we are doing enough to protect the environment, research strategies for reducing Maple Ridge’s carbon footprint in a way that is economically sustainable (I have a blog post related to this issue: Maple Ridge’s Carbon Footprint), and to bring to council’s attention any issues that arise in our community that might council might not otherwise be aware.