Creating actual neighbourhood champions

Why doesn't CEED Centre have local members on its board

Editor, The News:

Re: Champions are ready at the helm (Along the Fraser, Dec. 14).

What interesting commentary in the Dec. 14 edition of The News.

Let’s start with Jack Emberly’s column about champions being ready at the helm.

It’s a shame that Mr. Emberly talks about the importance of community building, yet resides on the board of the CEED Centre, which has no neighbourhood members on it at this time, nor has it in the near decade my family has lived beside this organization.

Isn’t it nice that while Mr. Emberly talks about the importance of neighbourhood input, he concurrently waxes on about city employee Dave Speers’ definition of “neighbourhood champions.”

It must be me because I would think that neighbourhood champions would and should be chosen and defined by neighbourhoods and the community members that live there. Unfortunately in the downtown core, city hall, and in particular  parks staff, decide who the neighbourhood champions are, fill them with praise and municipal tax dollars to take on issues that are far beyond the mandate of the municipal government.

Which brings me to Mr. Cowley’s letter (Barking up the wrong tree, guys). Mr. Cowley is the executive director of the CEED Centre. His mention of “cleaning up other people’s dropped responsibility” is something I know all too well about.

My family has lived right next to the CEED Centre since we moved to Maple Ridge and has been cleaning up after it for years. We’ve cleaned up garbage, crack pipes, and knifes. I have kept photos of all these items.

I’m baffled as to how city-owned plant and property, which is supposed to be a community gardening centre, turns into a drop-in centre for the homeless and addicted, and also serves as a  crash pad.

I’m hoping that when I present to council on Jan. 8 my questions will actually be answered by parks staff, as opposed to the last round of answers, which boiled down to: a) everything is fine; b) in that instance, you should call the police.

There is such a ridiculous amount of verbiage on engaging communities and putting communities first.

What is stopping parks staff from putting community members as the final decision makers for the grants that Mr. Emberly is talking about?

Not the usual suspects, but get some fresh blood in there and actually start asking the real questions.

Are these community groups serving the communities in which they reside, or are they just serving themselves and passing tax dollars from group to group and saying everything is fine.

I’m sure if the district keeps using municipal tax dollars to fund these groups and friends keep friends employed, everything will be fine, everything except, of course, for the actual neighbourhoods which are supposed to be served by these very same community groups.

I’m sure this letter will come off as an attack on all community groups, it is not meant to.  It is meant to be an eye-opener about the cliché of a road to hell being paved with good intentions, alive and well in Maple Ridge.

A bit more honesty about the doable mandate and ability of municipal back organizations would go a long way in creating actual community champions.

Tyler Ducharme

Maple Ridge