On Nov. 15, we go to the polls and this year we elect our mayor and council for four years.
For some of us it does not seem so long ago (1987) that we started electing our local government for three year terms, bidding adieu to the alternating two-year system that often meant turnover in government due to unpopular, but often necessary decisions.
These were the days of the Dewdney-Alouette Regional District, our own garbage dump, our own sewage treatment facility, small government and small taxes.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we closed our dump and created a park. We closed our sewage treatment facility and moved to the regional one and, by 1990, we left DARD and became part of the GVRD.
Our population increased from 2,780 in 1971 to more than 8,000 in 1986, and with the increase came a second two-lane crossing of the Pitt River and the eventual expansion of the Pitt Meadows airport. Sunday shopping was approved and a landfill in Pitt Polder was halted.
Below is a recap of the some of the issues facing candidates leading up to Pitt Meadows elections starting in the early 1980s.
Leading up to a 1981 by-election to replace Coun. Jacobsen, council went on record as being opposed to the expansion of the airport and also voted against extending the city’s boundaries to include Pitt Polder. Dave Duncan was elected to council.
Leading up to the 1983 election, the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver) was looking at a 600-acre portion of Pitt Polder to use as a landfill for Vancouver, but this was finally abandoned in August of 1982.
Airport expansion continued to be an issue with the airport society and the ratepayers at loggerheads over it. Danny Sharpe was returned as mayor.
Leading up to the 1985 election, some issues were Pitt Meadows airport runway expansion, increased development, and fair share of policing.
Leading up to the 1987 election, a developer was proposing a strata titled twin tower complex for the Meadows Garden Gold Course, and the year was the worst ever for property crime in the area. Bud Tiedeman became mayor.
Leading up to the 1990 election, in the spring Pitt Meadows made the first overtures at including Pitt Polder in its boundaries, Doman Industries was turned down in its bid to develop land on the Fraser River, and DARD gave approval for two golf courses in the Pitt Polder. Those running on a ticket of building a new recreational facility were not elected. Tiedeman returned as mayor.
Leading up to the 1993 election, there was a projected 32 per cent tax increase in 1992 that was reduced to 6.5 per cent by using money from reserves and by canceling some infrastructure projects. Duncan became mayor by a seven-vote margin over Tiedeman.
Leading up the 1996 election, the amalgamation of Pitt Polder into Pitt Meadows and the start of West Coast Express service happened in 1995, Interfor’s Bay Lumber closed and counter flow lane construction at the Pitt River Bridge began. Duncan was elected to a second term as mayor.
Leading up to the 1999 election, issues surrounding Swan-e-Set Bay Resorts’ expansion plans and a referendum bylaw dominated headlines, while development of the South Bonson area was also being debated.
Cuts to provincial government grants caused farm and residential taxes to rise, but business taxes remained the same. There was also a referendum on borrowing to build the new recreation centre. It was approved and the centre opened the following year. Don MacLean became mayor and stated “the people sent a message that the north side of the Lougheed Highway is not for sale.”
Leading up to the 2008 election, candidates were questioned about the main issue for the OCP, drainage and transportation. MacLean was returned as mayor.
Leading up to the 2011 election, candidates were questioned about development north of the highway, farmland preservation and farm home plates, as well as marijuana bylaws and property tax levels. Work began on the Pitt Meadows Senior’s Activity Centre and residents are polled on the question of increased taxes for a new indoor pool. Debra Walters was elected as Pitt Meadows’ first female mayor.
– Leslie Norman is curator at the Pitt Meadows Museum.