1. Why have you decided to run for Council and what do you believe are the strengths that you bring to the role?
I have decided to run for municipal council as I believe that we need some real change from the current path we are going in. Hence my slogan, “Moving Forward with Positive Change.” When I watched the debates from 2014 I noticed that the issues of concern were identical to the ones we have now: homelessness and addictions, urban sprawl, poor public transit, a need for better road safety, residential property taxes going up every year, and a need for more commercial development (especially in the downtown business district). There has been far too much residential development, particularly out in Silverdale and Albion, which has isolated these communities as they have very few stores and amenities out there. There also needs to be better public transit connecting them to other areas of Maple Ridge. I feel that one of my strengths is my desire to fight for change in Maple Ridge, even if it means being at odds with my provincial and federal counterparts. I also will do my utmost to attend all council meetings and feel I am very good at negotiating and debating both policy and planned direction for change. I also have a degree in psychology and another Bsc. Nursing (RPN) degree. I feel these degrees give me much needed experience in researching issues, presenting findings in a meaningful way, and conducting analysis to write detailed reports. I also have done much public speaking in the classroom setting and feel comfortable with this.
2. What are some of your reflections on the past term and how would you like to see the next 4 years unfold in comparison?
I feel that the last four years could be seen as a term of indecision. An example is with the homeless and addictions issue. Three potential placements for housing for the homeless were eventually rejected by the mayor and council, and the fourth place (at Royal Crescent Avenue) is still almost two months until completion. I haven’t noticed any memorable changes since 2014. The number of homeless and addicted has actually increased significantly and their need has become even greater. Having worked in mental health and addictions for over twenty years (and recently being a part of the modular housing implementation in Surrey) I feel I am knowledgeable in this area. I believe that expectations were high as the current mayor had talked adamantly about fighting for Maple Ridge and “resolving the homeless issue.” Yet it seems that the mayor didn’t have an effective plan for accomplishing this. My plan is to work towards a Recovery-Based Model of addictions as opposed to the current Housing First Model. The Recovery-Based Model has support from experts in the field of mental health and addictions and there are several published journal articles supporting this. I would consult with B.C. Housing about the benefits of considering this change as they are evidently intent on continuing with the same failed system. I would also engage with the provincial government about Christy Clark’s promise to have 500 treatment facilities in B.C., as right now we only have 220. I would request a few of those be built in Maple Ridge. I would also work with public-private partnerships to bring in abstinence-based addictions housing and second-stage housing. We already are going to have low-barrier shelter housing that is currently promoted by B.C. Housing and a variety of housing options will be helpful for addicted individuals that find low-barrier housing isn’t meeting their treatment needs. I would also like to see council approach new businesses to start developing in Maple Ridge to begin creating a balance between commercial and residential development. I would look at improving bus transit routes to make transit more effective, and I would recommend inviting ride-sharing programs into Maple Ridge like Uber and Lyft when they become available in 2019. I would also improve street lighting and consider new pedestrian crosswalks where needed to improve road safety.
3. What do you believe are Maple Ridge’s top three issues currently?
I believe that the top three issues in Maple Ridge are: i) finding both housing and effective treatment for the growing homeless population in Maple Ridge. Under the Recovery-Based Model this would also include building better and stronger support networks and working on job skills and employment. ii) Improving the public transportation system. I have mentioned in a recent MRN article that I would like to see a direct B-line bus route directly to Coquitlam Center from the Haney Place Exchange, with one stop at Meadowtown Center. I will also look at the possibility of speeding up traffic along Lougheed Highway during rush hour by changing the interval wait times on the green lights. iii) Protecting the ALR. There will be pressure on council to allow marijuana operations in the ALR once it becomes legalized on Oct. 17th. Council needs to oppose this and to work on legislation that will continue to effectively keep traditional crops in the ALR (see my recent article in the MRN for details).
4. What are your thoughts on the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows relationship?
I would like to keep the relationship between Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge strong. People in both communities often have friends and family living in the neighboring community. The two communities also have a long-standing history of offering services to the other community. I’ve also enjoyed being a part of the Pitt Meadows Day celebration as I’m sure many in Pitt Meadows have enjoyed participating in Maple Ridge events. Sharing resources and services may also keep costs for both communities down.
5. What are your thoughts on any of the other candidates?
I have no opinions on the other candidates. I do not know any of them personally. I promise to work hard, show up on time and stay until the meetings are finished regardless of who I end up working beside. I will also listen to them and respect their views, although I will also stick with my own convictions.
6. What should I keep in mind while casting my votes?
When casting your vote you should consider the track record of the person you’re voting for. If it is an incumbent ask yourself, have they missed a large number of meetings, shown up late and left early at other times? Also ask yourself what initiatives they may have been a part of that have brought about some positive changes. If it is someone new running ask yourself what experience, knowledge and work have they done in the community. Currently I volunteer with the Friends in Need Food Bank, the Haney Farmer’s Market, and the Maple Ridge Alliance Church. I also hope to volunteer with the Christmas Haven community dinner when they start accepting applications in November. I also called and wrote emails to the Ministry of Transportation four years ago until they finally re-paved the sidewalk (which at the time was only a dirt trail) near the Lougheed Highway and Haney Bypass intersection, with an additional steel railing added for safety.
2018 Candidate questions from the Alouette Management Society
1. As a candidate, how familiar are you with the OCP? Please give an example of your knowledge, or what you have done to familiarize yourself with the plan.
The OCP stands for the Official Community Plan. I have looked up what an OCP may encompass, and it will involve all the major components of city planning. For example, when developing commercial business inside the central business district the OCP may call for increased density. When building residential detached homes on the outskirts of the city the OCP may call for a buffer of green space (trees and shrubs) between developments to ensure privacy, noise reduction, reduced car traffic, and keeping some natural beauty in the neighborhoods. It may also call for environmental assessments to ensure wildlife populations are not negatively impacted. The OCP will be used to guide development within the city, and decisions will need to reflect the goals of the OCP.
2. What is your position on the Natural Features section relating to water course protection?
I will be in favor of protecting Natural Features as part of water course protection. In regards to this I would need to be assured that any alterations to the timing, volume or flow of water isn’t impacted by man-made obstacles (for example, a dam installed by B.C. Hydro).
3.Do you believe in implementing policies that would enhance the inclusion of “green infrastructure” within the planning process for existing and new area plans?
Yes, I believe in implementing policies that would enhance the inclusion of green infrastructure. This is an environmentally friendly solution to maintaining our ecosystem and may prevent the city from having to pay a costly sum of money for a water treatment facility. Using the natural environment (eg. Planting shrubs, trees, building up river banks with plants if needed) is always preferred to using mechanical interventions.
4.What is your position on the 30 metre setback relating to fish bearing stream side protection?
I am in favor of the 30 metre setback. This is a requirement under The Fish Protection Act and falls under Riparian Access Regulations. There is a set of measurements that are taken by a qualified professional in the field of fish habitats that will determine the need for the 30 metre setback. This is important as fish in their spawning cycle will need this setback enforced so as not to negatively interfere with their natural spawning movements within the stream.
5.What is your knowledge of “wildlife movement corridors?” Do you support them? Please explain your answer.
Wildlife movement corridors are areas of preserved green vegetation that allow two or more wild animal groups to come into contact with one another, where they otherwise may be cut off into marginalized areas. For example, if through residential development in an area inhabited by wildlife two species that normally come into contact with one another are now cut off by the building structures, wildlife movement corridors can reunite them. It may beneficial to keep two different groups of the same species (like coyotes) connected through a corridor for mating purposes and social contact. Or it may be beneficial to keep two different species connected (like coyotes and wild rabbits) as the coyotes can keep the rabbit population in check so that a cull doesn’t become necessary, and by having the rabbits as natural prey the coyotes may not start attacking neighborhood pets like cats and small dogs. These corridors are an essential way of keeping an ecosystem balanced and preserving natural habitats.
5. What is your position on development within the North and South Alouette River floodplain? Please explain your answer.
I would consider the impact and the potential for increased risk of flooding. These two floodplains need to stay below a certain water level as measured by their respective south and north water gauges. Unrestricted development may alter the drainage and water flows in these areas and contribute to flooding. In this case having the area assessed by an expert in floodplain management would be recommended before a proposal for development would be considered. I would typically recommend not developing in these two areas.
6. Are you aware of the activities of Alouette River Management Society, over and above what is reported on our website? If so, how are you aware?
I have heard of the ARMS and the environmentally responsible work they do before I looked at the website. I believe that the ARMS plays’ an integral part in the management of the local fish hatchery. By overseeing the spawning of salmon, their migration patterns, the health and lifespans of the fish, and counting the numbers of fish spawning each year the ARMS helps to ensure the fish populations remain abundant. The ARMS also can determine changes to the fish life cycle by changes in the numbers of natural predators (types of birds, bears, bigger fish, and many other animals), fishermen, and human caused issues relating to fish population decline (such as chemical waste in the water and debris the fish get accidentally caught up in).
7. Do you believe environmental organizations, such as ARMS, have a role to play in council’s decisions relating to development applications within the Alouette River Watershed? If yes, what role do they play? If no, please explain your position.
Yes, the ARMS and other environmental organizations have a role to play. They can inform council of critical changes to the environment, types of developments that would be beneficial to the environment, and make suggestions on what types of developments would be harmful to the watershed. Man-made dams (such as those erected by companies like B.C. Hydro) would likely have the greatest impact and the ARMS can advise on whether it would have too great a negative impact to be considered a viable option. These are important decisions as they would have an impact on the fish and surrounding ecosystem for generations to come and mistakes can be costly in both environmental and financial terms down the road.
8. ARMS is provided an annual grant of $20,000 from the City of Maple Ridge to support the work that we do within the Alouette River watershed. We also oversee the Adopt-a-Block program on behalf of the city and are allocated an annual budge of $25,000 to do that work. Do you believe environmental organizations, such as ARMS, should continue to be funded for work of this nature? Please explain your answer.
Yes, I believe that the ARMS should continue to be funded by the city. This is a relatively small cost to pay for the integral work the ARMS does. I also like the idea of both Adopt-A-Block and Adopt-A-Stream. As a councilor I would look at ways to make these programs more highly visible I our community and draw added attention to their significance. I like the idea of youth being involved in this much needed work, and would also consider other groups of volunteers to help keep Maple Ridge clean and free of litter.
9. Are you aware of the Heritage River status of the Alouette River, if so, what does it mean to you?
I was aware that the river attained heritage status in 1998. Personally, this signifies the importance of keeping this river preserved in its natural state. By being a heritage river it signifies the importance of its position and function within the watershed and that the flow, volume, filtration, water levels, and maintenance of “blue-green infrastructure” are integral for this river and to the surrounding area.
10. Have you ever seen the salmon run in the Alouette River and what should be done to protect it?
I have been part of the salmon run with my small daughter during two of her class trips where she put the small fry into the stream to start their spawning cycle. It should be protected by educating the public about its importance, encouraging volunteers to participate in displays and community functions promoting the salmon run, and by imposing fines and other penalties against individuals who would interrupt the salmon run (eg. Fishing illegally or dumping materials into the stream).
11. What have you personally done to protect the environment?
I recycle regularly. I ride my bike in the summer or walk within the city to limit the amount of emissions from my car. I also have been planning on purchasing an electric car when the price comes down a little bit. In high school I wrote a paper on the damaging effects of chloriflourocarbons (CFCs) in hair sprays and other pressurized spray cans on the ozone layer. Thankfully, CFCs have since been banned.