Former municipal politician Craig Speirs wants to get back on Maple Ridge council and says he can save taxpayers money by changing the way it grows.
“I believe, if we want lower taxes, we have to create a more efficient community. To do that, we need to turn our back on [suburban] sprawl and remove all sprawl bombs built into our planning documents.”
Speirs, if elected, would push for a review of Maple Ridge’s policies, “to allow us to grow without increasing taxes.”
He added: “Suburban sprawl creates a structural tax deficit that forces us to raise taxes or slash services.”
Speirs served four terms on council, from 1999 to 2011, before losing the last election.
He also ran federally for the NDP in the 2011 election and is a retired liquor control board employee.
“For me, I’m not done at all,” he said Tuesday.
Designing an efficient community is a “burning issue for me.”
If he doesn’t win one of six council seats in the Nov. 15 election, he said he still wants to follow those goals.
Speirs said there are two kinds of growth – growth that helps a community and growth that hurts a community.
He wants to ensure the Silver Valley and Albion area plans are unfolding as intended and says they have to be completed to allow more people in order to pay for the costs of the roads and sewers.
However, the long-term plan of allowing suburban growth on Thornhill, east of 248th Street, once the city’s population hits 100,000, should be abandoned.
“I would take the Thornhill urban reserve out of the official community plan. I think it’s ridiculous to have it in there. It’s nothing but a sop to gather votes, I guess.”
Speirs, while on council previously, opposed development of the Albion flats commercial area along 105th Avenue at Lougheed Highway.
“The last thing Maple Ridge needs is another strip mall on farmland.”
Maple Ridge has been in lengthy negotiations with Smart Centres over a land swap that would allow shopping mall development on the east side of 105th Avenue.
Instead, Speirs said a commercial area to serve Albion residents should go at Lougheed Highway and 240th Street.
Albion elementary could be converted to commercial, he said, with a new school built on 104th Avenue, away from the busy intersection.
“Work out a deal with the school board.”
Speirs said he isn’t running as an NDP candidate, nor with a group of other candidates, although that could happen.
He’s supporting incumbent Mayor Ernie Daykin, at this point.
“I have some questions on growth that he needs to answer.”
He said that mayoralty candidate Nicole Read should have run for council to gain some experience first.
“I think my kind of experience is really needed, just because I know how to get along with people.”
Speirs also said that people tell him they miss his leadership on issues and that he believes in tough debate at the council table, with those divisions left within council chambers. Debate among council this past term became too personal, he added.
“For me, concentrating on things we agree on will save time and money, while moving our community forward.”
Speirs is also on the community heritage commission, the agricultural advisory committee, and led the petition drive that unsuccessfully sought a province-wide referendum on legalizing marijuana.