With recent provincial uncertainty in education funding and the continuing controversy over class size and composition, it might be challenging to find good, enthusiastic candidates to run for school trustee positions in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge in the November civic elections.
There are seven trustee positions – two representing Pitt Meadows and five representing Maple Ridge.
With at least two current trustees having already stated they will definitely not seek re-election and with few new potential candidates stepping forward, the remaining incumbents will face tremendous pressure to seek re-election in order to provide continuity on the board of trustees.
One potentially positive result of the teachers’ job action was to instill a sense of responsibility in students who were the most affected by the strike.
The emerging chaos and dysfunction in the education system arose as a result of too many people not being willing to stand up for improvements and needed changes.
Too many people stood by and watched the slow deterioration of conditions in the classroom and in the entire education system. The results of that inaction will hopefully not be lost on the young people whose lives were the most affected. They will be challenged to stay involved and not stand by idly on the sidelines in the future.
A major portion of the coming challenge for school trustees for the next decade or so will be to re-establish trust in the system. But who will be willing to run for an office which has largely been a thankless task?
Operating budget restraints and pitiful capital budgets will also prove to be major hurdles for local trustees as our population grows and our fiscal resources continue to shrink.
With the announcement by incumbent Mayor Deb Walters that she is not seeking re-election, the mayoralty race in Pitt Meadows will likely be a lively contest and could result in new directions for the city.
With many council votes being split three to three for the past three years, resulting in the mayor sometimes casting the deciding vote, a new face in the mayor’s seat and the possibility of two or more new faces on council could result in a somewhat smoother flow of council decisions.
Depending on the results of the election, the recent defeat of the proposal for a huge commercial strip development north of the Lougheed Highway will likely be back before council in the coming months. The topic could be a hot button item during the campaign.
The results of the election could also bring an overall slowdown to commercial and industrial development on agricultural lands and council’s historic support to exclude lands from the Agricultural Land Reserve for commercial and industrial purposes in Pitt Meadows.
Another issue that could become a hot button topic is the possibility of Pitt Meadows withdrawing from the joint parks and recreation operational agreement with Maple Ridge.
Under the terms of the current agreement, each city is responsible for its own capital costs, but share operating costs on a proportional scale based on population.
With the oft recurring theme of being its own autonomous entity, there are more than a few Pitt Meadows politicians who would like to return to its former independence on parks and recreation matters.
With the term of office for school trustees and city councilors being increased from three to four years, voters will have to exercise even greater discretion in their choices about whom they will support at the polls.
Whatever the results, we’ll be stuck with them for at least four years, unless an elected member of council or the mayor decide to resign in mid-term to seek office in the federal election which is expected next year.
– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former district councillor.