Maple Ridge mayoral candidates talk business, planning, Albion

Craig Ruthven also wants district to cut its expenses

Current mayor Ernie Daykin & his challenger Craig Ruthven will be debating at the ACT in Maple Ridge on Monday

The debate between those who would be mayor continued Wednesday at Webster’s Corners, with the newcomer continuing his call to overhaul the planning department and bring new blood to Maple Ridge municipal hall.

“I’m here today to kind of challenge the status quo a bit,” said Craig Ruthven.

The district’s planning department, he added,  should be reformed so it can speed up applications, and Maple Ridge needs to become more business friendly, so businesses remain in the district. There are elements in the bureaucracy that are “purposely stalling growth and we need to see some change.”

The district should also be able to cut its expenses, Ruthven said. “To say there’s no possibility of finding savings, I think, is a bit fatalistic.

“There’s always room for improvement.”

But for a community that’s supposedly driving business away, there have been 1,500 new business licences issued in the last decade, making Maple Ridge No. 3 in the region, pointed out Mayor Ernie Daykin.

The north end of the 256th Street area, zoned for industrial, has huge potential for broadening the tax base, he added.

And the district doesn’t spend like drunken sailors, he said, answering a spectator’s question.

Just drop into the district’s business planning sessions, he added. Cutting spending means cutting services, and after talking to voters, “for the most part, they’re not prepared to do that,” Daykin said.

Council, though, should set a good example, said his challenger. Maple Ridge council salaries climbed 53 per cent in the previous term, while council last summer OK’d a 13-per-cent raise over three years for the incoming council.

“I think the leadership should lead by example,” Ruthven said.

By making that decision before the election, council was either delusional, or crazy, or stupid, he added.

Ruthven said Maple Ridge needs new leadership, noting that Daykin’s family has been in the area since the 1870s. “I don’t think he’s gone very far, very often.”

Daykin, though, said he’s been out of the country a number of times and didn’t apologize for calling Maple Ridge his home town.

The pair traded points for half an hour Wednesday in the latest in a series of all-candidates meetings to allow 28 candidates to make their cases to the voters before the Nov. 19 election.

The location of the all-candidates’ meeting was Webster’s Corners elementary by 256th Street, but shopping, maybe big box shopping in Albion, was first on the list of questions from the audience.

The district hasn’t received an application to develop shopping in Albion flats, along Lougheed Highway and 105th Avenue, said Daykin.

“We have not turned anybody down.”

Many large-format stores are looking for “significant numbers in population.”

And Thrifty Foods is about to open in Haney Place Mall, Daykin added, while Zellers at the other end of the mall is expected to be renovated as Target in 2013.

But SmartCentres, the development company which leases to Wal-Mart, has been making overtures for the last eight to nine years, countered Ruthven.

The district hasn’t been clear if it wants or doesn’t want big-box stores, while the real issue is that Albion flats is farmland, which politicians don’t want to be seen acting on.

“What we should have had is real rigourous interaction with the public,” on the area.

Maple Ridge earlier this year created a draft plan calling for development of the entire area, most of which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

It’s awaiting comment from the Agricultural Land Commission on its proposal.

Questioners wanted to know why Dewdney Trunk Road was in such bad shape and why it took 45 minutes to drive from 256th to 203rd street.

Daykin didn’t deny much work had to be done. “I’m not going to promise things that I can’t deliver.”

But Ruthven said congestion was a result of having two models that conflict with each other. The district wants to develop downtown, while at the same time, suburbs are developing.

That’s a result of poor planning, he added. Growth in the suburbs should be tempered, he added later.

The mayor pointed out that the district spent $2.4 million in the last two years paving roads, while thanks to its membership in TransLink, receives $900,000 annually in major road network funding.

One questioner asked both if working in the real estate business and serving as councillor created a conflict of interest.

“No,” Daykin said simply, before sitting down.

It’s not a simple issue, replied Ruthven.

At the least, such councillors shouldn’t be involved in real estate decisions, he explained. But barring realtors from council could rule out good candidates.

“You need to vote for people … you can trust and watch them closely,” he added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure event at Garibaldi secondary in Maple Ridge

‘High level of anxiety’ among teachers after fourth exposure

Calum, Hunter, and Joel were all selected for scholarships with NCAA schools in the United States. (Special to THE NEWS)
Three Ridge Meadows Burrards earn U.S. lacrosse scholarships for 2021

Calum Munro, Hunter Meyer and Joel McCormick will take their talents down south

The Ridge Meadows Flames lost their season opener on Sunday night.
Flames open season with loss to Kodiaks

Maple Ridge Junior Bs name Garrett, Tyszka team captains

Maple Ridge Council turned down an application for a cannabis retail store on 225th Street. (Black Press files)
City turns down cannabis retail store on 225th

Maple Ridge councillors say applicant needs new location

.
ON COOKING: Chef offers a new take on pumpkin spice

Pumpkin puree can be used to make a salad dressing

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Langley resident Sean Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Sean Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read