Maple Ridge council no show at Chances meeting

Neighbours want district to answer questions about security near new wetlands project

Fraserview Village general manager Randy Elliott is worried about a pond

Fraserview Village general manager Randy Elliott is worried about a pond

They came with many questions but left with few answers about the effects new trails and streams will have on their homes.

About 60 people, who live near the District of Maple Ridge’s new wetlands project along 227th Street, crowded into Chances Maple Ridge Wednesday.

Great Canadian Gaming Corp. is managing the $4-million project, as per a condition set by the district in return for redevelopment of the site on Lougheed Highway, where the new Chances gaming centre opened last October.

Maple Ridge wants to combine smaller streams in the ravine to the west of 227th Street to enhance wetlands areas. At the same time, it also wants trails constructed to give people access to green space and a creek in the middle of the town centre.

Wetlands also will be developed by planting vegetation that helps amphibians, birds and mammals.

But neighbours who live next to the area worry that opening it up will give homeless people and vagrants easy access to their backyards.

Great Canadian says there will be lots of planting to separate backyards from the new trail.

Lonny Lamont likes the extension of 227th Street to Lougheed Highway that was part of the project.

But she doesn’t like that it’s made the area easier for the homeless to access. “So they’re all going to be in there and they’re going to be infiltrating our properties.”

For people in Fraserview Village, the 492-unit condo complex on 116th Avenue, the construction has come to the edge of their backyards.

Piles of dirt border some units. A new public trail will be a few metres from their decks while a settling pond lies just beyond what used to be dense forest.

The pond is a few metres from the homes, which could create a flooding risk and breed mosquitoes, said Randy Elliott, general manager of Fraserview Village. “But the main thing is security. “We need them (the district) to come and talk to us about our requirements.”

But so far, he’s had no response, he said Thursday. “They all seem to be on holiday.”

Christopher Ngui, who lives nearby, said the amount of sediment left at the final storm outlet that leads to the Fraser River has increased since the gaming centre was built.

At the meeting Wednesday, Great Canadian Gaming staff could only answer questions about construction, not address security issues.

One resident suggested thick vegetation be planted to deter people from accessing yards. “That’s definitely something we can forward on to the municipality,” said project manager Michael Young.

He pointed out the project has been professionally engineered. The contractor specializes in stream work and is experienced in building riparian habitat.

Great Canadian staff said repeatedly though they couldn’t address residents’ worries about safety.

“That part of is out of my control as far as monitoring the security for it,” Young added.

Nevertheless, the company wanted to have a meeting to allay concerns as soon as possible.

“If you’re not happy, we’re not happy,” said Chances general manager Andy LaCroix.

“No one at all from the council is available?” asked another resident.

No members of council and staff were at the meeting.

Todd Oliver with the group Council Watch, said the project is a good one but the district should have addressed security and included buffers to protect residents.