The recent storms and other factors meant water levels were high in the Alouette River. (Neil Corbett/The News)

The recent storms and other factors meant water levels were high in the Alouette River. (Neil Corbett/The News)

LETTER: Maple Ridge mayor needs to act now on climate issues

Developments should not be going in the floodplain, letter writer argues

Dear Editor,

I read several times Mayor Morden’s recent Facebook post about standing on the three bridges over the South Alouette River during the recent flood event. I was trying to determine whether you had had a cathartic moment while on the bridge or was this post was simply the requisite politico release to show the citizenry that you care?

When you were standing on the bridges were you thinking “Oh my goodness I am so glad that those 26 families were not in their homes on the proposed 240th Street development.” Or “Goodness I think it is time to stop putting residential or commercial developments on the floodplains of Maple Ridge. We are putting peoples lives at risk.”

Did you or do you realize how many hours – two, four, six, eight – that Maple Ridge missed having its own Abbotsford, Merritt or Princeton? That the rain stopping at around noon on Monday was the only reason many homes on the South Alouette River were not flooded or access for many residents north of the river would be cut off.

Did you or do you realize that BC Hydro had lost all capacity to even influence, much less control what was happening on the watershed? Once the water overtopped the free crest weir portion of the Alouette Dam, there was nothing more BC Hydro could do. Every drop of water that came into the reservoir was going over the weir. This is not the first time the residents on the river have been spared by nothing more than good luck.

I participated in the city ‘process’ regarding the proposed Trisands development on the floodplain at 240th Street. The process where you and several council members and some city staff treated the hundreds of concerned citizens with disdain and disrespect. The ‘process’ happened only because the city’s rules require it. The rules, however, do not require the council members and city staff to truly listen, engage, learn and take guidance from the citizens. Most of the council that you lead were disingenuous in their treatment of the citizens who care about the river and the city.

This past week was another important piece of proof that the hired gun consultants, which the city foolishly managed on behalf of the developer (hello?), were totally and completely wrong when they ignored the potential effects of climate change.

Mr. Mayor, as much as it dismays me to consider, this past week was little more than a warning shot across the city’s bow. You need to have a pair of rubber boots beside your desk because there is more of these types of weather events coming.

You were right in your FB post that there is a lot of work to be done. But it needs to be done right. It needs to deal with the facts of today not relying on flood mapping from the 1990s. We are well into a substantive change in how the planet is behaving. It really doesn’t matter the cause. What matters is that we immediately rethink municipal development criteria to reflect the new reality.

Are you up for the job?

John Kelly, Maple Ridge

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• READ MORE: Controversial riverfront development before Maple Ridge council

• READ MORE: Province stops Maple Ridge riverside development


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