Couns. Ryan Svendsen, Judy Dueck, Chelsa Meadus and Mayor Mike Morden at rally in Memorial Peace Park. THE NEWS/files

Maple Ridge looking to local experts for safety plan

Reaching out to UFV to get plan done in a year

Maple Ridge is reaching out to local experts as it tries to get its Community Social Safety Plan completed by January 2021.

Council at its Tuesday workshop will decide whether to appoint former Ridge Meadows RCMP officer-in-charge Fraser MacRae, a Maple Ridge resident, along with former managing-director of the Hope for Freedom Society, Rob Thiessen, to serve as consultants. They’ll join the community social safety project management team and will help develop public and business surveys that will help create the safety plan.

Thiessen said community safety is a broad topic. “Not only does there need to be public safety, but there needs to be the perception of safety,” Thiessen said. “And what’s missing in Maple Ridge is the perception part.”

Language now being used is that people are not feeling safe in Maple Ridge, he added. “I’ve heard it for decades about people not feeling safe when they actually are safe. I would say there’s a bit too much rhetoric of it not being safe.”

That being said, there are issues the city has to address, he added.

“But then, they (the city) need to convince the public that is the right way to go and this will make you safe, as we can make you safe.”

Thiessen said that he does relief work in Third World and said if people in Maple Ridge don’t feel safe, they should go to the rural areas of Indonesia or Malaysia. “We’ve got it made in the shade compared to the rest of the world.”

Council also will decide whether to waive its usual bid process that requires three separate quotes in order to speed up the process, and hire the University of the Fraser Valley to conduct a community safety survey under the supervision of criminology professor Irwin Cohen.

According to a staff report, Cohen has worked with other cities developing safety plans and will conduct his research based out of the Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research at UFV in Abbotsford.

Staff note that RCMP will be conducting similar work and the hope is coordinate some of the efforts.

The cost for the university research, public consulation and the consultants is expected at $100,000, which, if council approves, would come from the community safety reserve account which has an allotted $1.6 million. Another $155,000 has already been used to pay for earlier intiatives.

In addition to the surveys, an open house will take place some time in March with a draft safety plan ready by late next summer or fall.

As well, the city will use online, social media, videos and print measures for its public consultation process.

Council endorsed its Community Social Safety Initiative process and terms of reference for its Community Society Safety Task Force on Sept. 17.

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