If you haven’t started talking and putting in your two-bits about new recreation in Maple Ridge, the pace for that process is about to pick up.
Early in 2017, there will be an open house, to be announced, while pop-up displays will appear around town to provide pictures and stories about a new aquatic centre, stadium, museum, ice rinks and community places the city wants to build.
An e-mail notification service and online survey are already available to allow people to voice their opinions.
Once taxpayers have had their say, by the end of March, staff will compile the public’s thoughts.
Council then will finalize a list of projects to roll out for public approval for borrowing required to build them.
Setting priorities will depend on public consultation, said Coun. Bob Masse.
“We will certainly be certainly guided strongly by the feedback from the community, absolutely,” he said.
“I think it will get clear to the public as we move along.”
One option is to have the entire list of projects, with costs and tax implications included, decided in one alternative approval process.
For that, 10 per cent of voters have to oppose the proposal in order to force a referendum.
But Coun. Craig Speirs favours having a separate alternative approval process for each project.
“For me, each one should be able to stand on its own because they won’t all happen at once.”
He thinks council will follow that approach eventually. He doesn’t want one project to sully the results of another project.
“In my view, we’ll be asking the questions separately.”
Masse, though, said that council hasn’t had that discussion.
“That’s not my understanding of it.”
Masse said he doesn’t know why council would do that. Some projects could be done without getting public approval if they fall within certain financial limits.
“I don’t think we’ve had an official conversation at council … that said we’re going to break these down into four or five different choices and then put them to the public one at a time for their approval.”
And it’s not yet certain how several projects can be voted on in an alternative approval process.
Coun. Tyler Shymkiw said council is about to start its open houses.
Some recreation projects could be dropped off the list.
“Whether we go through that as a bundle or individually is still in the air. That has not been decided.
“That list could change in terms of how we move forward.”
Anyone who wants to get up to speed on what the city’s proposing can already check the city’s website (mapleridge.ca), followed by clicking on the Community Facilities Conversation at the top of the page. Doing so sends viewers to descriptions, illustrations and videos of each project.
Part of the list of projects includes the civic and cultural facility, which includes a new museum and archives and room for first-level university courses. That would be built next to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre and would include the multi-million dollar renovation of the Leisure Centre pool.
Council has made that project the priority for seeking grants from the new federal government, and last fall Mayor Nicole Read and staff visited Ottawa to make the case for funding.
As well, a report is pending on whether repairs to the Leisure Centre pool can wait to be included as part of the project, or must be done immediately.
Masse doesn’t think that the civic and cultural facility, museum and archives project will jeopardize public approval of an entire list of projects.
“I would hope not, but there might be some people who say it would.”
Council approved last fall spending $525,000 to do detailed designs of the civic and cultural centre so that the project has the best chance of securing federal grants.
“There’s no way we’re going to have five different projects on the go at one time,” Masse said.