Mayor Nicole Read at a field announcement earlier this year. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge mayor will not seek re-election

Nicole Read cites family reasons.

  • Oct. 19, 2017 2:00 p.m.

Nicole Read will be leaving her job as mayor of Maple Ridge to advocate for changes in the education system.

Read announced on Facebook Thursday that she will not seek re-election, with the next municipal campaign a year away.

“As difficult as this announcement is to make, I have chosen today to let you know that I will not be seeking another term as mayor for the City of Maple Ridge,” she wrote. “Though I still have considerable work to do over the next year, I felt it necessary to make this announcement early to allow space for prospective mayoral candidates to begin working with the community on their vision and plans for the future of Maple Ridge, 2019 and beyond.”

Read said she does not believe the early announcement will impact her effectiveness, but instead allow her to focus on the work of the office, rather than being entangled in the election campaign.

“I think this is going to be a fairly raucous election year.”

Earlier this year, Read was absent for council for five weeks after being the target of harassment and threats.

She was first elected in November 2014, defeating incumbent mayor Ernie Daykin and councillor Michael Morden.

Read first got involved in the community in 2013 by opposing the rezoning of a school site in the Silver Valley area for housing. She formed the Action Silver Valley Facebook group and launched a petition to preserve the site for school use.

During her campaign, she promised to end homelessness in the city, as well as work to bring a new elementary school to Albion.

Her term saw the start and end of the Cliff Avenue homeless camp, as well as the opening and closing of the RainCity emergency shelter and opening of the Anita Place Tent City, and extended protests over a proposed supportive housing and homeless shelter facility.

She also sought to have the province stop shelter funding for the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries.

As well, Read led the creation of the deputy mayor position, which was later cancelled.

She also established task forces on government transparency and homelessness.

About her accomplishments, Read mentioned the open government portal that opened this week, which she called “a huge piece of work” that fulfilled a campaign promise.

Another election promise was the homelessness task force, and the formation of that group was one of council’s first acts after the 2014 election.

Read said the community and council can become preoccupied with homelessness, and she does not want it to be the focus of her final year.

“The camp needs to go. The people in there are sick. Then need to be taken care of, from a health care perspective,” she said.

Read said another goal was to increase processing times for developers, and the city won most business friendly and most improved city for both 2015 and 2016 from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

New schools in the fastest growing neighbourhoods in eastern Maple Ridge were a goal, and the city has partnered with the Education Ministry for a new school and community centre in the Albion area.

She said finding a new anchor tenant for the downtown mall, which resulted in a new Walmart, was also an accomplishment.

The city got transit service into Silver Valley, and got the B-Line moved from a five- to 10-year priority for TransLink to a one- to four-year project.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot,” said Read.

She wants to ensure that employment lands be identified, and that will be a priority in her last year.

“We need to bring jobs closer to home,” said Read. “Businesses are growing, and when they expand we want them to stay in Maple Ridge.”

Read’s Facebook post explained how, in 2015, her our oldest son Benjamin was identified as a twice exceptional learner – gifted with a learning disability. This year her younger was identified as having the same learning profile.

“While our family has been fortunate to work with some truly incredible teachers, educational assistants, administrators and school district resources, satisfying the educational needs of our children within the current education system has been difficult to say the least,” said Read

Like many parents of children with unique and specific learning needs in this province, we have faced a system in drastic need of change. Despite the most well-intentioned people and resources across our province, thousands of children, including our own, continue to fall through the cracks. The ongoing struggle results in too many children developing further challenges that impact their ability to access education. As a result, many children are refusing school altogether.

My inspiration comes from many of the parents I have met along this journey. They stand strong for their children and fight all year for scarce resources only to have to start the fight again each September. This scarcity of resources pits parents off against teachers and administrators – the very people who are involved in their children’s education. Parents should not have to fight for supports they are entitled to – supports that are the ramp by which their children access their charter right to education. They are not optional. They are set out in policy and enshrined in law.

Our children have rights and families require a much more powerful seat at the table.

I plan to spend the next leg of my journey working side-by-side with other determined parents to require the provincial government to meet its legal obligations to our children.

In the coming weeks, I will share more about this journey.

I invite you to stand with me.

“It’s been a huge honour to serve the community,” said Read. “To have this vantage point on a city that means a lot to you is a privilege.”

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