The quest for the mayor’s chair in Maple Ridge is slow to get going, with three council veterans thinking about, but not yet in the race for the top spot.
Coun. Craig Speirs, a five-term councillor, could run for mayor or council, while a former mayor and councillor, Ernie Daykin and Mike Morden, are still thinking about it.
“We want to keep the ball rolling,” says Speirs, who has served five terms as councillor, beginning in 1999. “We can’t step back and lose our focus on the future.”
Both Daykin and Morden are former councillors. Daykin was also mayor for two terms. They both ran in the 2014 election, but were defeated by Mayor Nicole Read.
Speirs is proud of council’s record the last four years.
“This has not been a development council, it’s been a community council, which I think is critical.”
He cites the recent increases to the development cost charges that builders pay to help with the costs of sewers and roads, as well as the community amenity contributions approved by council as accomplishments.
Those are new charges that developers also pay for recreational projects. Those contributions now sit at $5,100 per single family lot, $4,100 per townhouse, and $3,100 per apartment.
Speirs also says the present council stopped suburban growth into Maple Ridge’s rural areas, past 248th Street. Rezoning to allow suburban residential in the east, however, is allowed under Maple Ridge’s official community plan.
He said another council accomplishment was the opening of the Youth Wellness Centre pilot program in the Greg Moore Youth Centre. A fundraising drive is now underway for the construction of a new building adjacent to the Greg Moore centre.
Speirs says Maple Ridge isn’t done, yet. The city has to keep building infrastructure, such as that approved in the alternative approval process for several recreation projects, requiring borrowing of $49.5 million.
He’s still intent on seeing a new aquatic centre, which could cost $70 million, built somewhere in east Maple Ridge. Public consultation on that long-term project is currently underway.
Speirs also believes that council should have included the civic and cultural centre, which would have included a museum, on the list of projects decided by the alternative approval process. But a majority of council struck that down.
Speirs hasn’t made a final decision on running for mayor or running for a sixth term on council.
Speirs also ran for mayor in 1996.
Morden previously said he wants to wait awhile before making a final decision on running for mayor or council.
“I want the best for our community. We have a pretty complex society these days and we’ve got a lot of challenges. I just want the best people there for the job and whoever that needs to be, well, the electorate will decide that” Morden said.
“If I’m part of that mix, I would like to be, but I haven’t made that decision yet.”
Morden added Monday that, “Those conversations on who’s best to serve are just starting to happen right now. No matter what I decide, I will continue serve the people of Maple Ridge though various avenues of advocacy and volunteer work.”
Daykin has been thinking about running for mayor. He’s been getting lots of encouragement, he added, and said there’s “lots to consider – not the least, is my family perspective.”