Janis Elkerton is running for councillor in Pitt Meadows. (Special to The News)

Janis Elkerton is running for councillor in Pitt Meadows. (Special to The News)

MEET THE CANDIDATES

IN THE PITT MEADOWS COUNCILLOR RACE: Janis Elkerton

Ahead of Oct. 15, The News offers a profile and Q&A opportunity to each candidate

Janis Elkerton

Retired nurse, age 66

Pitt Meadows for 38 years

I am a 38-year resident of Pitt Meadows and was a Pitt Meadows community health nurse for many years.

During my 21 years on council (1993-2008 and 2011-18) I was elected by colleagues as president of the LMMA, chair of MIABC, UBCM director and co-chair of the UBCM/MIA joint task force on civil liability.

I entered politics in 1993 because taxes were predicted to increase 30 per cent, money was being wasted and many streets didn’t have basic fire service, ie. fire hydrants.

Citizens have encouraged me to return because similar issues are dividing our city now.

I will bring my experience, devotion, and independent thoughts to council.

I listen to both the facts and the citizens, and my voice will be heard at the council table.

Facebook: www.facebook.com//groups/1098876774065365/?ref=share_group_link

Twitter: @JanisElkerton

Phone: 604-465-5541

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Have you held office in past? If so, please specify: Councillor 1993-2008, Councillor 2011-2018, Total 21 years

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CLICK TO CHECK OUT OUR FULL ELECTION GUIDE ONLINE

Questions:

(These answers are presented as the candidates submitted them)

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1. Should the City switch from a volunteer-based (paid-on-call) fire department to a full-time model?

Yes. New Fire Fighters positions should have been negotiated with CP to pay for the extra career members necessary for the safety of residents with CP expansion. That is the cost of CP doing their business so close to residential neighbourhoods.

2. Should Pitt Meadows take more direct action to combat the local opioid crisis?

No. Health is a provincial function that we don’t get financial funding for. We have a Salvation Army which is a regional facility in Maple Ridge. They provide help to the people that are affected by the opioid crisis. The MR HUB has a trailer with showers. They provide meals, resources for housing and drug treatment. Also the provincial government should put more funding into prevention programs, both educational and health/rehab focussed.

3. Do you support the construction of the Harris Road underpass?

Yes. There was a “Statement of Principles” produced by staff /Council that all the previous Council endorsed. It was important to include these in negotiations with CP. Quality of life issues which includes sight and sound buffering, transparency, city’s lack of financial capacity to contribute to any costs including capital, maintenance, and operating costs. The other essential component was to include an interchange at Harris and Lougheed to relieve the congestion. The traffic will flow through the underpass only to be stopped at Lougheed.

4. Should the City set targets for the creation of more low-income and seniors rental spaces, social housing units, and/or co-op development to improve home security?

Yes. Pitt Meadows has always prioritized the principal of “aging in place”. Seniors should be allowed the opportunity to retire in their community. This was important to the formation of the Westbrooke Senior Living Community where the land was leased to the developer to lower capital costs. The city has co-ops and senior housing that is designed for senior mobility and counter height challenges, but we can always do more.

5. Do you support the proposal for the new CP Rail logistics yard?

No. The logistics yard is an environmental and safety hazard that shouldn’t be forced on Pitt Meadows. We already have proceeded with construction of the underpass that obviously is a huge benefit for the railway. But the increased rail traffic has massive impacts on our residents, that haven’t been properly addressed. Both the underpass and the logistics yard should have been negotiated together to obtain better results for our impacted residents.

6. Should the City be offering more tax breaks, rebates, and other incentives to entice new businesses to town?

No. The City can give tax relief to everyone so the residents can have more money in their pocket to spend at local businesses. The constant 5% increase per year which translates to 15% for businesses, is unsustainable. This is a 20% tax increase for residents and 60% compounded for business. Businesses pay more than 3 times the mill rate when compared to residential. COVID19 exacerbated the impact on local businesses. When combined with the municipal tax increases of over 60% many businesses became unsustainable.

7. Do you think residential property taxes are too high in Pitt Meadows?

Yes. The City combines apartments, condos and single family homes to get the average home price. So the ‘average home price” doesn’t reflect the reality. Comparing homes assessed at a million dollars between Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows shows that residents in POCO pay $300 less in municipal taxes. Questions to the present Council should include where the 3.7 million provincial grant for COVID impacts, the 1.5 million for allowing fill to be trucked in 6 days per week to South Bonson, and the increased business taxes from GEBP have been spent. We should have received a reduction in municipal taxes not an increase of over 20% compounded the past 4 years.

8. Does Pitt Meadows need an indoor swimming pool?

Yes. A pool was always planned for when our population reached 20,000. It was crucial that Pitt Meadows had a diversified tax base to contribute to the ongoing operating costs of the facility. Building a complete community was essential and the business park was crucial to that goal. The business park has been in the OCP since before I was elected to Council in 1993. It has become impossible for young families to find available swimming lessons for their children in a nearby community. Our outdoor pool has been open only sporadically as it is plagued with repair issues.

9. Do you support the City creating a separate RCMP detachment, exclusively serving Pitt Meadows?

No. Other options should have been considered such a re-negotiating the agreement with Maple Ridge to provide more RCMP coverage in Pitt Meadows.

Maple Ridge has introduced community safety officers, which we could have added also.

The present council has refused the request from the RCMP for funding of additional officers.

Why did council jump automatically to providing a very expensive building?

A thorough cost-benefit analysis that included operating, capital, equipment, support staff, and future maintenance should have preceded any expenditures or decision to move to a separate detachment.

PoCo, which has a population three times our size, concluded that the costs to separate from Coquitlam RCMP would cost a minimum 15 per cent more with no discernible benefit.

A private business would have conducted a thorough cost-benefit analysis to provide due diligence before any investment.

Pitt Meadows taxpayers will now be saddled with the financial burden of a $20-million loan for the next 30 years – money that should have gone to our new pool facility.

The severity of crime has decreased in Pitt Meadows according to the latest Stats Can crime severity index released in August, yet this council continues to push forward with their self-described “legacy” project.

10. Should Pitt Meadows parks and nature areas be protected at the cost of future development opportunities?

Yes. They are not making new land anymore. We must ensure our quality of life and livability by protecting our parks, nature areas and our Agricultural Land Reserve. Our Official Community Plan has designated park and nature areas distributed throughout our community. All our citizens should be able to access parkland and nature trails within walking distance of their home. To take park land away from one area and the City state they are putting more in another isn’t acceptable. Harris Road Park for example has both recreational and heritage significance yet will be forever changed by the construction of this unnecessary new RCMP building. The “Alternate Approval Process”that was used to remove parkland was undemocratic as only the “no voters” were participating. Secrecy and privacy in elections guard against coercion and is essential to the integrity of the electoral process. They used a legislative loophole that needs to be removed.

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CLICK ON OUR ELECTIONS 2022 TAB TO FIND A WIDE VARIETY OF RELEVANT STORIES

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

How the questions were presented to each candidate

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows news readers have told us how much they value this important, straight-forward reference guide that helps orient them with the range of choices on the ballots – both at the council and school board levels.

Towards that end, we have attempted to make this package available (along with the following instructions) to each of the candidates in a timely fashion ahead of the Oct. 15 election.

Please read carefully before you start to fill this out.

To help voters in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows make their choices on election day, The News is asking local candidates 10 issue-based questions.

You must provide a ‘yes,’ a ‘no,’ or a ‘don’t know’ (Y, N, D) response to EACH of these questions.

Each question MUST be answered with yes (Y), no (N), or Don’t Know (D). This will be published in a grid in the Oct. 6 edition. Any questions not answered will be LEFT BLANK.

Candidates may also expand on ANY OR ALL of these questions (to a maximum of 200 words each). Please note any responses longer than that will be cut off at the 201-word mark.

Due to space limitations, we can only guarantee to run one of these answers in The News print edition ahead of the election. You must CLEARLY indicate which expanded answer you want to see published in print. If you do not specify, we will choose. Any and all expanded answers provided will be published online at www.mapleridgenews.com.

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