(The News files)

(The News files)

Maple Ridge’s slates spar over housing issues

Teams headed by Ruimy and Morden talk about affordable housing, development

A Better Maple Ridge, the slate headed by mayoral candidate Dan Ruimy, recently put out their position on housing in the city.

And Maple Ridge First, the slate headed by incumbent mayor Mike Morden, has also offered a response.

ABMR is pledging to increase affordable housing and streamline housing approvals in downtown Haney.

“If we want our community to grow and thrive, we need housing that is affordable for all ages and incomes: young families, seniors, and those who want to downsize into a home without losing the equity they have built over decades,” said council candidate Onyeka Dozie. “The housing we build – or don’t – will either attract new talent and families, or cause long-term residents to be forced out and move elsewhere.”

Council candidate Jenny Tan was critical of Morden.

“Current mayor Mike Morden has not responded to these urgent needs, preferring to focus on supporting his developer donors by approving unsustainable developments,” said Tan. “A strong local economy and affordable housing go hand-in-hand – you can’t have one without the other. We hear from residents over and over again on the doorstep that they want a thriving economy with vibrant local restaurants, shops, and industry. ”

“A focus on affordable housing in downtown Haney and increasing services to neighbourhoods that are already built doesn’t just make economic sense, it’s critical to tackling climate change,” said candidate Sunny Schiller. “Through smart development, more people are able to live where we already have services which increases our city revenue without increasing service costs. It’s a win-win.”

“We know that many residents, particularly seniors and youth, are struggling to find affordable housing in Maple Ridge,” said council candidate and current school board chair Korleen Carreras. “Too many residents have been forced out of our city because housing has become overpriced. We need to build a Maple Ridge where our young people can afford to live and find jobs and our seniors can afford to retire and enjoy a high quality of life.”

“’Working with the federal government and tapping into the national housing strategy, we can access the funds we need to meet the demands of our community,” said mayoral candidate Dan Ruimy.

Highlights the ABMR platform are:

● Bring together a housing roundtable with developers, community services, and housing advocates to inform policy decisions and help design livable communities.

● Work with federal and provincial governments and community stakeholders to ensure a continuum of affordable housing options including rental units.

● Prioritize approvals of apartment and townhouse developments within a 15-minute walk of Haney instead of at the city limits.

READ ALSO: Candidates form A Better Maple Ridge team

Maple Ridge First offered its response, saying that under the leadership of Morden and Maple Ridge First, the city has already developed a robust, inclusive process that brings together community members, business owners, developers, consultants, and city staff to inform policy decisions.

“An excellent example of this process was the Lougheed Corridor Transit Study. The planning department hosted community forums, provided social media notices, conducted online surveys, provided a comprehensive website outlining the plan and the process, and consulted with the development industry.

“Under the direction of this council, the plan has been approved, but we’ve asked for more. So the city is exploring even further opportunities for job growth and economic development in the plan.”

This past term oversaw unprecedented numbers of affordable housing units built in Maple Ridge, said the MRF response.

“Simply put, Mike Morden is the Housing Mayor,” said the MRF statement. “In addition, we implemented a new housing plan, a youth strategy, launched a secondary suite review, and ordered a freeze on all evictions from secondary accommodations.”

Maple Ridge First says development should focus on the town centre and the Lougheed Corridor. They support the Town Centre Area Plan in the Official Community Plan, as it already designates most of the core as multi-family housing. They approved more multi-family units in the town centre than any previous council in recent memory, they say. MRF’s council also initiated the Lougheed Corridor Transit Study, including 525 acres along Lougheed Highway, to open more opportunities for density, employment, greenways, and public transit.

“Regarding our positive working relationships with the development community, we believe a spirit of collaboration with the building and development community is more effective than one of animosity and hostility,” said MRF.

“We have worked to cultivate and encourage an environment of balance between the city and the development community, because we recognize that we need them to achieve our goals of affordability, density, jobs, and revitalization in the town centre and along the transit corridors. We have done so while still advocating for the interests of residents. One such compromise has been the vast increases to the community amenity fees and the near doubling of development cost charges we implemented.”

The election will be held on Oct.15.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge First team holds launch event

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