Maple Ridge bylaw easier time for developers

.

.

The new bylaw that makes it easier for developers and landowners to get a proposal to council is working, says Chuck Goddard, environmental services manager.A year ago, council changed its procedures to allow a proposal to get to council without all the detailed reports, surveys and studies, so that council could just give a general opinion on the land use proposed for a property.If such a proposal passes first reading, then developers have to provide all the detailed studies at second reading, before the project proceeds any further.The new practice will make it easier for smaller landowners to run a proposal past council and possibly make it easier to finance, council heard.Coun. Craig Speirs asked if the new procedure was adding to staff time, but was told it had minimal effect.“I feel I’m not getting enough information to make a real, informed decision.”He said he’d be asking more questions and commenting on the applications when they first get to committee of the whole.However, council usually just asks questions at those meetings before sending topics on for full debate at regular council meetings. Council reaffirmed in a 6-1 vote that it would maintain that practice.Whoever’s chairing the committee meeting can rule if questions or comments are out of order, council decided.Shake out They cowered under their desks and hid under tables, and held on to the furniture for two minutes, until the shaking should have stopped, Jan. 26.Maple Ridge district employees joined in the Great B.C. Shake Out that took place that day, as a means of preparing for the big one, such as just hit Christchurch, New Zealand.Emergency program manager Ceri Marlo told council half a million people in B.C., half of those in the Lower Mainland, participated in the earthquake drill.The event gave each department ideas on what to do to improve earthquake safety, such as fastening book cases to the wall or removing heavy binders from top shelves.Marlo told council she’d like the drill to be an annual event. The latest practice in surviving a quake is to remain in the building, under the furniture rather, than to risk injury running out. Standing beneath a door frame won’t work because you won’t be able to keep standing, she said.135 municipalities and 740 schools did the drill. District weaving its webPeople can buy a dog licence for Fido and check their accounts, pay their parking tickets, taxes and utilities on the District of Maple Ridge’s website.Now they can also check to see if a construction project has a valid building permit, just by plugging in an address. Or a contractor looking for projects, can see what permits have been issued recently.The site drew about half a million unique visitors last year, about 1,300 people a day, according to information services staff.One of the next projects is offering streaming video of council meetings, if council so decides.Pitt Meadows has been offering that on its website for more than a year.Feds not inIf there’s a national housing strategy, it won’t involve the federal government building homes. “It’s not our intent to put in place an actual program to build and operate houses,” Conservative MP Randy Kamp told council Monday.That’s outrageous, said council candidate John MacKenzie, especially considering the tax breaks given corporations in the federal budget.