With guns blazing, longtime Maple Ridge city councillor Craig Speirs announced he will be seeking a seat at the council table again in the 2022 municipal election.
Speirs was first elected to council in 1999, and held his seat until a loss sidelined him from 2011-2014. He was re-elected, but lost when he ran for mayor in the 2018 local election. In total, he has served 16 years on council.
He ran for mayor in 2018 because there was no other candidate he could support for the position, he said, but that has changed with the announcement that former MP Dan Ruimy is vying for the position this time.
“I was waiting to see if there would be a viable candidate for mayor,” he said, and given that he can support Ruimy, decided to run for a council seat.
Speirs said he was disappointed by the recent news that the Maple Ridge First slate – Mayor Mike Morden and councillors Judy Dueck, Chelsa Meadus and Ryan Svendsen – met with the Canadian Freedom Coalition. He said by meeting with the supporters of the Freedom Convoy trucker protest the slate is “courting a bunch of radicals” as their base of support.
City hall is dominated by the slate, including two “neophytes” who are in their first term (Meadus and Svendsen), and they have bullied Coun. Kiersten Duncan, marginalized Coun. Gordy Robson, and Coun. Ahmed Yousef is “on the fence,” he said.
Speirs wants a mayor “who respects the people around the table.”
“I know what it’s like when you’ve got a good council, working together,” he said.
What’s more, he would want to get rid of the controversial council conduct bylaw, that has allowed the slate councillors to bring discipline against their council colleagues.
“I don’t think it (the bylaw) serves any purpose, other than to stifle criticism,” said Speirs. “This council can’t handle any criticism.”
He said the bylaw has been used politically, and “allowed them to corner and vilify Gordy and Kiersten.”
Speirs said the slate has accomplished nothing as a council, but is trying to take credit for the Albion Community Centre that was an initiative of the previous council.
“They haven’t done a damned thing, and that to me is the biggest sin,” he said of the slate.
He said the council’s singular focus is on residential development. He said they will next open the Thornhill Area for more residential development, to the detriment of the environment, and adding more urban sprawl.
He renamed the slate: “It’s Development First – it’s got nothing to do with Maple Ridge First.”
The veteran politicians said the slate politicians fought against housing facilities for the homeless “for years.” However, over their protests the province established facilities on Burnett Avenue in 2019 and is building another facility on 224th Street. Despite the slate’s opposition, housing is making life better for people on the streets, said Speirs.
He said Morden’s council has fought John Horgan’s NDP government to its detriment.
“Working against the provincial government hasn’t worked – that’s why these guys haven’t done anything in four years,” said Speirs. “We need to link beyond our city – both provincially and federally.”
Over the past four years Speirs has served on the board of directors with the Alouette River Management Society, which he said has a “rainbow of political stripes.” He was also on the tourism committee of the Economic Development office, and is on the stage – he has a role with Bard on the Bandstand in “As You Like It – Welcome to the Speakeasy.”
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