Maple Ridge council considers growing again

Task force wants to talk about adding two more.

Maple Ridge council considers growing again

Expanding Maple Ridge city council to nine members received a lot of questions Monday from the current slate of politicians, many of whom wanted it to remain at seven.

Nevertheless, staff were told to write up a report on the costs of expanding council beyond its current members.

Under the Community Charter, a city the size of Maple Ridge, with more than 50,000 people, is supposed to have nine councillors.

However, a bylaw passed by a previous council in 2005 kept the size of council at seven, following an alternative approval process.

Maple Ridge’s open government task force recommends that council expand to nine, an idea supported by Coun. Corisa Bell, who said that duties have expanded for politicians.

Coun. Kiersten Duncan said she initially supported expanding council when she was first elected in November 2014, but now favours keeping it at its current size

Having eight councillors and a mayor would make it more difficult to coordinate schedules and could add to staff workload, Duncan said.

Coun. Craig Speirs, who’s on his fifth term as council, disagreed that workload on councillors has increased, adding that it’s the same as it was decades ago.

Demands on staff time could grow, though, he said, if council expanded.

Coun. Gordy Robson wanted to know why the open government task force recommends expansion. No one has given an explanation, he said.

Downloading from the province has increased pressure on cities, said Coun. Bob Masse.

“They’re dumping way more work on us … through the province,”

Councillors currently make about $43,000 a year, plus expenses.

“I think as we grow as a city, the pressure grows,” said Mayor Nicole Read, who favours expanding council size.

Staff told council that it could expand to nine by rescinding its bylaw, which sets it at seven councillors.