Speirs: Need to find a way to say yes to housing homeless

#MRvotes2018: Says he can give leadership that works for all of the city

Craig Speirs

Craig Speirs, for mayor.

• Occupation:

Retired B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch employee, presently on city council.

• Political experience/qualifications for running in this election:

Volunteer in every municipal, provincial and federal election for past 30 years; mayoral candidate 1996; council candidate 1999; elected to city council for four consecutive terms, elected to council 2014, for fifth term.

Council liaison duties in 2018: Maple Ridge heritage commission; Maple Ridge agricultural advisory committee; UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest; municipal advisory committee on accessibility and inclusiveness.

Other positions currently held: committee member with the Metro Vancouver utilities committee; director with the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport Society, director with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Federal candidate 2011; organizer for Sensible B.C. campaign.

Five years as chair of the Maple Ridge committee for B.C.’s Children’s Hospital. Our signature event was the Teddy Bear Tea and Clinic

Six years as a director of the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society. Four years on the board of directors for the CEED center as vice-chair, as well as 13 years as a member of Compassionate Friends, a self-help group for bereaved parents, the last six as leader. Three years on the Community Heritage Commission, two as chair. Three years on the Haney Farmers Market as vice-chair

• Reasons for running:

I am running for mayor because I believe in strong, consistent and compassionate leadership that works for the entire community, not just special interests. The last four years have seen the most progressive council in Maple Ridge history and I want to build on that legacy. I don’t see either of my opponents as progressive or innovative and at this time, I am the only one that fits the bill. I have never coveted the mayor’s position, but now I feel compelled to serve.

• What do you consider to be the top two issues this election and how would you address them?

Housing is one and it’s not just homelessness. We have a crisis on our hand because of a lack of affordable and low-cost rentals from years of neglect, especially from the previous two councils. They were too afraid to act and now we have a real problem. The opposition to housing, encouraged by Mike Morden, started as soon as we tried to get the provincial government to the table to provide shelter for a growing homeless population.

The government responded in a positive way because it recognized that we had a real issue. MLAs of the day caved to the pressure and forced us to seek other solutions and we did and that one was killed by the same MLAs. The new government came forward with a huge investment and then council killed the proposal. None of the proposals made it to a public hearing so we could hear from the public. We need to find a way to say yes to housing the homeless.

Economic development is number two. We have restructured our economic development division and now have a lean, responsive and modern made-in-Maple Ridge approach to economic development. Instead of looking to farmland for smokestack development, we are now looking at it for food, fun and adventure.

Our natural environment is meant for tourism. We understand that to get the employers we want, we need to provide a quality lifestyle for their employees. Our new community amenity contribution program is collecting money from development so we will have money to build housing, recreation and cultural assets to improve our lifestyle. The bonus is we all get to live in a beautiful and engaging community.

I was raised in New Westminster and then moved with my family to Maple Ridge in 1973. I am constantly reminded of the quality of life a person can enjoy when you can live, work, play and raise a family within this community. I am always looking for opportunities to create local employment so others can enjoy that synergy.

I’ve learned that a group of citizens working together for a common cause can create an incredibly positive effect. If the arts reflect the health of a community, volunteerism reflects the heart and in my experience, this community has a large, healthy heart.

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