Maple Ridge council gives a tearful goodbye

Outgoing members list proudest moments as major change begins

Tears flowed and voices choked up Tuesday as a generation of Maple Ridge municipal leaders said their final goodbyes.

Four councillors are leaving the group, two after being defeated in the Nov. 15 civic vote, and two who are leaving politics.

“I want to thank Maple Ridge for an incredible journey,” said Coun. Al Hogarth, one of those who lost  after seeking a fourth term.

Hogarth said that when he was mayor, from 1999 to 2002, the highlight was watching re-construction of the Leisure Centre. It’s been a success, “and the public tells us that day in and day out.”

He said the Golden Ears Bridge, which opened in 2009, provided an “incredible connection” to Langley, while the Silver Valley and Smart Growth on the Ground plans, the latter helping form the basis of Maple Ridge’s downtown development along eco-friendly lines, were other highlights.

“If it wasn’t for staff, that downtown core would not have come to fruition. They had a battle and I do know they battled hard. And I really appreciate that because today, we are seeing the downtown come to fruition.”

He pointed to the three condo towers about to be built on Edge Street and Brown Avenue as an example of how the downtown is supposed to develop.

His proudest moment, though, was Maple Ridge receiving city status in September during its 140th anniversary after applying to the provincial government.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie, who didn’t seek re-election after two terms, said Mayor Ernie Daykin was “without a doubt the best mayor this community has ever had.”

Daykin was defeated in a bid for a third term as mayor by newcomer Nicole Read.

Ashlie thanked city staff, singling out senior administrators for special recognition.

“I will never forget how supportive all of you have been to all of us and how you retain such professionalism, when at times, it was not deserved by some.

“You are unsung heroes in my book.”

She noted council, while Daykin was mayor, completed the industrial commercial strategy, the agricultural plan, the transportation plan, Albion flats and recreation master plan, then commented on the election.

“In the face of the chant for change, you knew the important work being done, and you did not throw the homeless and addicted and all of the people working hard to make their lives better, under the bus as an election platform.

“You dealt in facts and told the truth, even though it served someone else’s agenda, and I respect you for that.

“You can hold your held high.”

Ashlie said her first term on council was the most enjoyable and said politics is changing as technology has allowed greater involvement from the public.

“But it has also provided a platform for an ugliness that needs to be challenged.”

Judy Dueck, also stepping down after 12 years, said she was proud of council’s accomplishments, such as the fire department master plan, which created a part-time, full-time force, and development of the economic development department, Smart Growth on the Ground, transportation improvements, the downtown plan, the downtown investment incentive plan, and the official community plan.

“But apparently some thought we weren’t doing a lot around the community.”

Shopping’s still an issue.

“I look forward to seeing the Albion flats become a reality along with the continued support of downtown businesses.

“You will be missed. Thank you for your years of service,” Dueck told the departing Daykin before leading a standing ovation.

Morden, defeated in a bid for the mayor’s chair, said the community clearly wanted change.

“I hope it’s about a community agenda. I will be watching with great interest. I wish the new council all the very best. Please take care of our great city.”

Daykin said he never dreamt that he would become mayor of his home town.

“How cool is that?”

He listed the building of the Golden Ears and Pitt River bridges and those over the South and North Alouette rivers and Kanaka Creek along 240th Street as accomplishments.

“We’re a great example for other communities.”

Both the new Fire Hall No. 1 and the SPCA building are LEED Gold buildings, achieving high scores in energy savings, Daykin said, adding that Maple Ridge follows good environmental practices.

City staff “have played a huge role,” in the successes of past two councils.

He said the composite fire department and the downtown plan based on Smart Growth has become a model for other cities.

The most rewarding part of serving on council was the relationships he formed.

“For me, it’s about the people,” Daykin said.

“I think I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been able to serve and try to take care of my home town the best way I could. Thank you very much and we’ll see you around town.”