Maple Ridge makes progress on its to-do list

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Maple Ridge council plowed through a lot of housework Tuesday, giving final reading to several bylaws.

Formal approval was given to its business licence bylaw which simplifies and clarifies regulations for doing business in the District of Maple Ridge.

Part of that bylaw includes a section making it mandatory for bars and restaurants to post signs warning of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, while there's also section creating a new mobile business licence that allow some businesses to require one business licence for the Fraser Valley region rather than paying for a licence in each municipality.

Animal control

Council also gave three readings to its new animal control bylaw, which penalizes owners of bad dogs.

Under the bylaw, people with dogs deemed aggressive will have to pay $200 for a yearly licence, considerably more than that charged for a normal dog. The owner of a spayed or neutered dog only has to pay $25 year if they renew before Jan. 31.

That bylaw, however, required some wordsmithing before the third reading. After a legal review, the district removed references to Savannah cats, which could have been included in the ban.

According to the International Cat Association, a Savannah (a cross breed between a house cat and an African serval) is a registered breed of domestic cats. As a result, the bylaw just reads that all cats are banned, with the exception of domestic cats.

That definition, however, wouldn't apply to serval cats, which are considered wild, unless an owner can provide some documentation showing that their serval cat is part domesticated or registered. In most cases, however, a serval cat will be considered a prohibited animal, and just like a lion or tiger, could be seized.

Cell towers

In response to the recurring issue of cellphone towers sprouting up in the district, the latest being proposed for the iconic Maple Ridge viewscape on Dewdney Trunk Road and 237th Street, council has decided to create its own cellphone tower policy.

A draft version of that would require public consultation and review of "high-impact" towers – those within 100 metres of residential areas or greater in height than 15 metres in commercial areas, or towers that go into environmentally sensitive or culturally significant areas.

The policy, if approved, also would require cellphone towers to be "disguised and unobtrusive and inconspicuous."

Currently, Maple Ridge follows the default policy of Industry Canada, meaning any company proposing a cellphone tower must consult local government and address any concerns.

As well, Industry Canada requires that anybody who lives within a radius of three times the height of the tower must also be informed, while if the tower is 30 metres or higher, a newspaper ad must be taken out.

Mayor Ernie Daykin though pointed out later that despite what the district says, Industry Canada would have the final say in allowing or stopping a tower.

Hammond plan

Politicians also pounded out a decision on writing a blueprint plan for Hammond, the historical area south of Lougheed Highway along 207th Street.

Council agreed with staff that Albion flats be the next to get an area plan, which will spell out in detail, future uses of the area north of Lougheed Highway at 105th Avenue.

Once the issues about Albion flats are settled, including Agricultural Land Commission discussions, Hammond will be next up for an area plan, a process that will take more than a year to complete. However, work on both plans could precede simultaneously if the Albion flats process bogs down.

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