Silver Valley plan not working
Editor, The News:
Last week I participated in the second workshop of the Environmental Management Strategy, organized by the District of Maple Ridge.
I was impressed by the huge attendance (double the first meeting). It seems Maple Ridge residents are getting more concerned about their environment, as they should be. They and attending district staff are passionate about protecting the amazing natural resources that make Maple Ridge a special place.
The opening presentation by district staff, talked of the vision in the OCP to build a sustainable future that embraces our natural wonders. We then sat in groups and discussed the details of how to succeed in the goals of the OCP and the district’s Vision 2025. All useful and very necessary stuff with a lot of great ideas coming from the participants.
It, however, struck me during the event that what we were really doing was cosmetic surgery on a patient that is in desperate need of a triple bypass.
None of the things we were working on mean anything if when we continue to build unsustainable communities in Maple Ridge. The fact is, we have a policy of urban sprawl disguised as a sustainable progressive plan.
Nicole Read’s searing critique of council should serve as a wake-up call. She pointed out that the bold claims made in the Vision 2025 statement are a fiction. She explained how new residents bought into the Silver Valley Area Plan because they believed in the plan and Vision 2025. They wanted a better place to bring up their kids and to live in a sustainable community.
But the plan has evolved into a pure marketing document and the reality of sustainability is now a distant dream.
I am not saying that was the intention. I believe it was well intentioned, but the fact is it just isn’t working.
Silver Valley/Ridge does not contain one single service that does not involve driving three to eight kilometers:
• no schools and no prospect for schools;
• no sidewalks to schools;
• no stores, not even a coffee shop within walking distance;
The closest bus is one to three kilometres away.
There is only one road access to Silver Valley – a recipe for disaster.
Most of Silver Valley, according to MLS, has a dismal Walkscore of five out of a possible 100, which means totally car-dependent.
This is the very definition of a sprawl development, not a sustainable development.
In my business career, I have written and tried to implement many business plans. When the business plan starts to go wrong, as almost all business plans do, the right course of action is not to blindly keep following the plan.
The right course is to examine why it is failing and to make changes.
This may involve fine tuning or a completely scrapping the plan.
The Silver Valley plan is going very wrong, but still we keep doubling down.
We need to step back, admit it is not working and do a complete review, with public input.
If it is determined that the plan cannot be made to work, then we need to stop, lick our wounds and move on.
We cannot, in good conscience, keep selling a myth to new home-buyers and the public.
If council truly wants to build a sustainable community, members need to go back to the drawing board and recognize the hard truth.