Election 2014: No to sprawl – Brown

Silver Valley resident, and realtor, running for Maple Ridge council.

Kristina Brown

Kristina Brown

There are good and bad ways to grow, good and bad places to grow, says a Silver Valley resident running for Maple Ridge council, Nov. 15.

And it’s time Maple Ridge started following good growth, says Kristina Brown, who works in Vancouver but makes her living in the real estate industry.

“I think there will always be development. But it’s up to the city to dictate what that development is going to look like. The easiest option is to take empty land and bulldoze it and just put up new houses. That’s the easy option. I don’t think that’s the best long-term solution,” Brown said Friday.

Running this election is her first attempt at elected office.

As a resident of Silver Valley, Brown has first-hand knowledge of suburb living. Despite it being almost a decade since the Silver Valley area plan was passed, houses and townhouses and roads, plus trails still predominate in the area at the north end of 232nd Street.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love Silver Valley, but I think we’re losing the integrity of the area,” and not following the plan.

The Silver Valley area plan is about a decade old and set a population target of 11,000 people. Today, about 6,000 residents live in the area.

“It’s a long way from anything. There are no coffee shops, there are no produce markets. There are no services in place.”

According to City of Maple Ridge staff, it just takes time for the population to grow and for the services to follow.

Brown said Maple Ridge has to change how it grows so people aren’t stuck in suburbs with no transit and congested traffic.

The city needs more business and commercial growth, “but I don’t support sprawl out to the east,” part of Maple Ridge.

The official community plan calls for suburban expansion to Thornhill, east of 248th Street, once its population hits 100,000.

“If our city continues to simply build houses farther and farther to the east and north, with no consideration paid to services and amenities, we are going to be left with higher taxes, a traffic nightmare, no amenities and more unhappy residents,” she says on her website.

Brown says, instead, that western Maple Ridge, already served by schools and services, easily could be densified. Increasing the school population there will allow education funds to be allotted for new schools needed in the new suburbs farther east.

Allowing more scattered developments create, “that feeling of disconnect in the community. If you don’t have those central places in your neighbourhood for people to gather and for people to come together, you don’t have a sense of community.

“When we’re just sprawling out with none of those things in place, I don’t see that being good in our community in general.

“We’re subsidizing growth for the sake of growth. I think there will always be development, but it’s up to the city to determine what the growth is.”

Brown is also concerned about the constant tax increases to home owners.

If elected, she’ll evaluate every development proposal “based on how it will benefit the community as a whole.”

Maple Ridge also has to ensure it will receive a RapidBus connection linking the downtown to the new Evergreen SkyTrain line in Coquitlam.

She adds it would be proactive of Maple Ridge to start thinking long term, where are things going to go. “Where will a Costco go? Where will a Wal-Mart go?” Maybe a lot of people don’t like big box stores, she said, but many people shop at them.

She wonders if Albion flats will ever see a shopping mall. Maybe a big box store can go in the former E-One Moli Energy building in Maple Meadows business park.

While she works in the real estate, if elected to council, she will not be involved in any development proposals to avoid any perception of conflict of interest.

The type of development she supports may not be supported by developers here, she added.