Letters: Back up claim about rural folks

Coun. Craig Speirs' comments are offensive and dangerous.

Craig Speirs

Editor, The News:

Re: Maple Ridge council votes against one-acre lots, (The News, April 29.)

Rural residential developments in Maple Ridge are evidently characterized by children who are “less fit, less socialized and they’re more obese”, according to Coun. Craig Speirs. Or at least we are led to believe this is endemic for the un-urbanized areas in Maple Ridge.

As a long-time resident of rural Maple Ridge, I couldn’t help but take extreme offence to this nonsensical comment.

Although I should take it with a grain of salt, and liken it to a Trump-like Speirs-ism, I couldn’t help but feel as though comments like this are dangerous coming from an elected official in the city that I dearly love. Being a city councillor does not alllow one to freely make unsubstantiated claims, but should motivate you to seek the truth and make decisions in the best interests of the city’s residents.  Although Speirs believes it’s “strictly a number game,” I ask that he present east Maple Ridge residents with the numbers he is talking about.

With a quick search of the UBC library stacks, no peer-reviewed article, study or census provided me with the numbers “we know about.”

It is true that studies show that in remote, rural communities in unpopulated areas in Canada, there is a plethora of heightened health risks; these don’t apply to Metro Vancouver residents living on the fringes of a suburb town totalling more than 75,000 people.

Additionally, not one time was the word ‘obese’ chronicled in a 20-page report, entitled Health Issues in Rural Canada, prepared by the Political and Social Affairs Division of the federal government, and was not amongst the highest health concerns for children, adolescents and adults in the report.

As a former Team Canada athlete, current Maple Ridge Hometown Hero, successful small business owner, engineer, but above all, devoted and proud Whonnock resident, I challenge Mr. Speirs’s comment.

Growing up, I was surrounded by like-minded, sociable and fit friends, who were also growing up in “rural” Maple Ridge. In no way did my time did that hinder my ability to excel in sports, education and social interactions.

I feel that my character was strengthened and molded by my time living in the sticks of Maple Ridge.

Although I’m well into my adulthood, I still see many well-adjusted young people, who are world-class athletes excelling at an international level.

I cease to understand the intent of the comments made. Are we to assume that if land is re-zoned to one-acre lots, more families who inhabit the region, will become fat, socially undeveloped and unfit? Or is it a Catch-22? If Speirs is truly concerned about the physical and emotional health of rural Maple Ridge children, shouldn’t he be in favour of urbanization?

At the end of the day, it was just a stupid comment made that served no purpose to the topic at hand, other than its unintended effects of possibly alienating east Maple Ridge children and hillbillies like myself.

I don’t necessarily disagree with council’s decision to deny one-acre rezoning, but the useless colour commentary by Speirs is not needed.


Sean McBeath

Maple Ridge

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