Several unsuccessful candidates in the Maple Ridge municipal election want to keep a close watch on the new council, particularly during the latter part of its term.
Christian Cowley, who finished 15th out of 28 candidates on the ballot, wants to form a shadow council that will keep an eye on the elected politicians during the last two years of their mandates.
He’d like to see a nominating committee that, by next November, would select four people to form a slate to follow council’s actions in its last two years.
That slate would act as an alternative voice to council decisions and as a “reliable source” on municipal issues, then come election time in November 2014, put their names up for election.
Cowley said he’s considering putting his name forward in an attempt to improve the balance on council next election.
“I think this council is too heavily weighted to irrational development. The Agricultural Land Commission decision is one indication of that,” Cowley said.
The ALC recently rejected Maple Ridge’s concept plan, calling for development of most of Albion flats.
Cowley said people who try for a position on the slate have to agree not to run in the next election if they aren’t selected for it. That’s to avoid possible vote-splitting at election time, he added.
Cowley thinks one of the reasons for the recent election’s low 25-per-cent voter turnout was the inability of people to know who were voting for.
Members of the slate would also attend council meetings and would be politically non-aligned, he added.
Cowley welcomes other slates coming forward, “to make our municipal politics more functional.”
The present Maple Ridge council may not have an explicit slate, but “to my perspective, it’s a develop-everything slate,” Cowley said.
“They’ve rarely turned down any development outside the urban boundary.”
Development of the Silver Valley, at the north end of 232nd Street, “never should have happened.” Cowley said council doesn’t want to fix the road and sidewalks leading to the area until development funds it, which results in service shortages, and there’s no chance of stores opening there in the next 30 years because there’s not enough population in the area.
“If you have leapfrog development, you end up with those kinds of problems.”
Carly O’Rourke, another candidate who didn’t make it on to council, after a second attempt, said a council watch committee could form in the interim, “so we do have an eye on what’s going on up there.”
The committee would be issue-oriented. “We really need to support [new councillor] Corisa Bell,” O’Rourke said. “She needs a lot of people behind her and we are behind her.”
Newcomer Coun. Bob Masse welcomes the group.
“I think that’s fine. I think that’s healthy. Both O’Rourke and Cowley are credible people, he added.
However, “I think you’ll find that the council we’ll have will be a very effective council.”