I know that most of you were expecting an article about getting the garden ready for the colder weather or perhaps winter-flowering shrubs this week, but there is something else on the table that is a little more pressing.
It is going to occur on Nov. 15, and you should mark that date on your calendar, as 75 per cent of you missed the last one.
That pressing appointment is our municipal election, which matters even more now as the terms are being extended from three to four years.
Communities all around us are changing at breakneck speeds and it only takes a quick trip over the Pitt River Bridge to the quagmire called Port Coquitlam to realize that both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are on the cusp of that rampant development that often deprives a community of its very identity.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that we need both residential housing to accommodate all those who want to live here and businesses to provide local jobs and tax revenue.
But where and when these take place is critical in our development as a sustainable city.
With that in mind, here are a few ‘hot topics’ to consider when you cast your vote this year.
• Public transportation: Having two daughters who relied on public transit for their commutes to university, I can say with all certainty that it is absolutely inadequate and overpriced for the service provided.
The problem is TransLink, a bloated bureaucracy that has proven itself incapable of making financially responsible decisions, preferring to gorge on additional taxes or defer the hard decisions onto local mayors.
• Protecting the environment: We live in an incredibly beautiful place with its lakes, rivers, mountains and abundant wildlife, but all of that is at risk when we just look at it as stream setbacks that need reducing or something in the way of development.
• Homelessness: If you are old enough to remember the drastic provincial cuts to mental health supports in the 1980s, then it is easy to see the direct correlation between this and the increase of homelessness. Local politicians need to pressure the province to fund mental health issues and provide adequate subsidized housing.
• Development: Should we develop Maple Ridge from the city core and work our way out? Why are residential developments being allowed to proceed in areas far from schools and other important municipal amenities? Both are important questions that candidates need to have an answer for before they receive your vote.
• Motive: When casting a vote for any candidate, you should be asking yourself what is their motive for standing for election. Do they just have a political axe to grind, are they seeking to influence development decisions for reasons other than what’s best for the community, or do they just have a genuine desire to make Maple Ridge a better place to live?
Voting for a provincial or federal party is easy when compared to the individuals we elect on the municipal level, especially when 26 people are running for council, five for mayor and 12 for school board. I guess what I am really trying to emphasize to all you gardeners out there, is that if you can chose one tulip out of the hundreds available, then surely you can take a little time to vet your candidates and vote for those that represent your community values.
Because not voting just means that those that do are given much more power than they deserve.
Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (firstname.lastname@example.org).