J. Craig Ruthven wants to change the way Maple Ridge sees itself and ensure it’s better than just another ‘burb.
After running against Mayor Ernie Daykin in 2011, and talking to people in about 1,800 homes, Ruthven has made several trips to cities after which Maple Ridge could model itself. He did so after hearing from residents who say they want Maple Ridge to remain unique and to preserve its natural character and feel.
His visits included Saanich and Langford, both near Victoria, as well as Whistler and north Burnaby, as well as the resort town of Canmore, Alta., just outside Banff, in the Rocky Mountains.
While he was in those places, he took photos and notes and talked to municipal staff and councillors about how those communities grew and tried to learn what kind of policies could help Maple Ridge grow in a similar fashion.
“I envision our town taking on some of the very best characteristics of these communities.
“For example, we could take on the flavour of, while not actually being, a resort town by weaving more nature into local development, as well as rustic post-and-beam architecture.
“Surrey is using progressive tree bylaws to do this, and the difference is night and day,” he writes.
Maple Ridge could also demand year-round, pedestrian-oriented shopping that includes overhangs on buildings to protect people from the rain and sun. Such areas could serve as locations for small-scale, live entertainment.
The City of Maple Ridge could market itself to the rest of B.C. and Canada as an “outdoor adventure land with dashes of ecotourism.”
But all of the above requires a change in mindset and in how Maple Ridge identifies itself.
“So that we can decide who we are, as a community, and what is that we would like to accomplish.”
Ruthven says Maple Ridge has put the interests of the housing community above those of residents and that has led to haphazard planning.
“The mistaken notion” that it’s alright to just build houses has led to exhausting commutes, less leisure time, and less time to contribute to community life.
On top of that, people have to get into their cars when they want to go shopping.
“What sort of a life is this?” Ruthven asks.
“Who or what is perpetuating it?”