Voters are going to have a tough time deciding among the 25 candidates who want to be on Maple Ridge council on Saturday. But they’ll have an easier time choosing their mayor, with only four options available.
Mayoralty candidates Mike Morden, Ernie Daykin, Craig Speirs and Doug Blamey all gave their last-minute pitch Thursday to voters headed to the polls.
The main point for Speirs is to continue what he and the current council have done in the last four years.
“I’ve been part of the most progressive council in Maple Ridge’s history and I want to carry on that legacy,” Speirs said. “My approach will be to be accessible and my commitment is to attend as many community events as I can get to. I love the community and I want us all to do well.”
Speirs cited the city’s open government web portal that he said provides more transparency to city hall as a major achievement of council. That will increase as the portal is developed, he added.
He said the second major accomplishment of the past council was the city’s new community amenity charges and density bonusing charges paid by developers, that are bringing in more money for recreation facilities.
The city’s new recreation facilities underway, such as new sports fields, the new Albion Community Centre and improvements to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, was council’s third major achievement. He called the community centre a legacy for the future.
And he blamed his competitors for not introducing community amenity charges when they were on council. Daykin served as mayor for two terms from 2008 to 2014 and Morden served on council during the same time period.
“Nothing happened until this council stepped up,” Speirs said.
”No other council has put development in its proper place, serving the community. Now, development is serving the community. I want to build on that. It’s about the future.
Daykin, however, said that density bonusing in north Albion was achieved when he was mayor.
“It was a program that brought some money, per door, into the community from that new development.”
In addition to homelessness, which Daykin said has dominated much of the conversation this campaign, people also are concerned about shopping, development and transit.
“The next council will have their work cut out for them and my style of leadership will build a team that will get things done and move the community forward.”
He said he could also bring some of the divided conversations “back to some kind of common ground.
“For me, it’s not about what happened in the last four years, it’s about what’s going to happen the next four years.”
People expect council to make decisions and choices and keep moving forward, Daykin added.
Morden said if he was elected that he would let council decide the priorities.
“I want to see the absolute best for my community,” he added.
“We need to come together and we need to stop with some of the vitriol and lies and divisiveness. The solutions lie in a campaign that we put out there to honestly assess where we are in a truthful light and in that, lies the solutions. Because when you honestly look at things, you can see them for what they are and you can see what the steps are to go forward.”
People want the community to come together and work on real solutions for people, he added.
Everyone is entitled to be heard, he said.
“Rather than sitting on the sidelines and taking pot shots, let’s work together.
“I think that Maple Ridge is ready to move forward and I think they’re going to elect a strong council to get that done.”
People want the city to progress, he added.
“I want to build. I want to build on social fabric that we need to bring us together. I want to build on our economy, all those things we talked about.”
He didn’t want to name his top three priorities if he gets elected. That has to be a collaborative process, he added.
“We need to bring council together, whoever is elected, and we need to formulate that strategy and it needs to be collaborative.”
That will produce a clear agenda for staff and with respect for everybody and done openly, he said.
“The mayor doesn’t set the agenda.”
Morden said if there’s diversity on council, that’s fine.
All three candidates said they’d honour the results of the referendum on city-wide collection of garbage that will be on a second ballot this election.
Blamey, also running for mayor, said that long-term residents should get a reduction in property taxes and also wants the extension of Abernethy Way to 256th Street to be started soon, “because the traffic volume down here is increasing so much.
He also wants Alouette Lake reservoir to be used as a future source of drinking water and said a homeless shelter should be built near the Ridge Meadows Recycling Centre, where shelter residents could work at recycling.
• Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20.