By Phil Melnychuk
The mayors of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have only been elected a few weeks and already they’re at each other – in a friendly sort of way.
Nicole Read and John Becker have agreed to a challenge – to see which city can bring in the most food and cash, per capita, when the CP Holiday Train stops in both cities, on Wednesday, Dec. 17.
Which one raises the smaller amount has to display the flag of its rival in its city hall for the next month.
“The CP Holiday Train event raises money for local food banks all across Canada, and in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows the Friends in Need Food Bank relies on this fundraiser to fill its shelves well into the New Year, when donations dry up,” Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said.
“Mayor Becker and I decided to take advantage of this unique opportunity to issue this community challenge and honour the work of our local food bank volunteers.”
This is the first year the holiday train will stop in Pitt Meadows, doing so at Harris Road to mark the city’s 100th anniversary.
The train usually stops at the Port Haney station in Maple Ridge, where Christmas lights and music entertains the crowds who show up with donations of food and money for the food bank.
The Port Haney stop will be at 7:30 p.m., followed by the stop in Pitt Meadows at 8:45 p.m.
Maple Ridge seems to be the early favourite to win the challenge.
A separate event, the Maple Ridge Fire Department Boot Drive on Saturday, Dec. 13, will boost Maple Ridge’s contribution.
All the proceeds from that drive, when firefighters are out at local malls, will be poured into Maple Ridge’s contribution to the CP Holiday Train on Dec. 17.
Donations can also be made at Maple Ridge city hall, where non-perishable food items can be left in a bin, while cash donations can be left with the receptionist.
Entertainment on the train this year includes Blue Rodeo recording artist Jim Cuddy along, with Santa Claus.
Since 1999, Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train has raised close to $9.5 million and 1.5 million kilograms of food.
Each Holiday Train is about 300 metres long, with 14 rail cars decorated with LED lights.