Maple Ridge advances environmental plan

Back on the books, for approval after a decade in the making

A pipe from the Lafarge gravel quarry

A pipe from the Lafarge gravel quarry

The plan that will set the approach towards Maple Ridge environment has been in the works for almost a decade.

Now, it’s up to council to decide whether it wants to endorse the environmental management strategy and make it an official, guiding document.

It’s been a long, winding path for the eco strategy.

Council decided in 2006 to create such a plan, after it rewrote its official community plan.

An environmental plan was supported again in 2007 in a sustainability strategy, which said the city would take the lead protecting sensitive areas.

In 2009, council told staff to write up a plan – but five years later, when it was presented in 2014, council only accepted it as information.

“I don’t think there was a lot of appetite for anything that would delay or inform development,” said Coun. Craig Speirs, who was on council when the strategy was first conceived nine years ago.

Goals of Maple Ridge’s Environmental Management Strategy are to conserve natural assets, build sustainable neighbourhoods and improve awareness about eco issues.

The environmental management strategy uses data collected during the environmentally sensitive areas mapping that took place in Maple Ridge a decade ago.

Strategy priorities include a new tree protection bylaw, currently underway. Other priorities are to document, and thus encourage, eco-friendly features of new developments, create incentives for eco-smart development and include enforcement and monitoring into city procedures.

The intent is to try to develop responsibly, so the city doesn’t have to pay the costs for environmental repairs later on, environmental planner Rod Stott told council in November.

Speirs said the strategy has to fit in with the new zoning bylaw.

“This is kind of a forward-looking document which gives us a prescription on how to deal with climate change.”

Speirs said no one wants to impede appropriate development, but “the average citizen doesn’t like how we’ve been doing things.”

He wants to see more creative developments instead of the “boiler plate” housing and developments that Maple Ridge has been getting so far.

One goal of the strategy is to create an environmental advisory committee.

While the previous council OK’d that committee, it didn’t endorse the environmental strategy that would have allowed the committee to be formed.

That step has to be taken before the committee gets underway, noted Mayor Nicole Read.

Council votes on the strategy at a special meeting on July 21.