News Views: Ridge strong

Decision to stay with science-based rules that set out stream setbacks is one entirely based on common sense.

Maple Ridge showed what it was made of Tuesday, when council resoundingly defeated a cynical proposal to change the regulations that determine how far houses and roads can be built from streams and creeks.

Future taxpayers will be grateful.

The decision to stay with science-based rules that set out what are usually 30-metre setbacks from salmon streams is one entirely based on common sense, that’s forgetting about any ecological value.

Given the recent report by the B.C. Ombudsperson about the serious gaps in riparian areas regulation – a weird set of rules created by the Liberals in 2005 – the defeat of the proposal was the only reasonable outcome.

Maple Ridge may not be known for its culture, industry, gleaming urban scape or nightlife, but it does possess an amazing natural bounty – dense rainforests, glorious mountain peaks, one of the busiest provincial parks in B.C., and sparkling creeks and rivers that still run in their natural state, all create a valuable and cherished resource for a Metro Vancouver region that will grow even more crowded.

The crowd of volunteer streamkeepers that showed up Tuesday to press council to vote the right way, knew that. They knew, and council knew, that as climate change and growth presses in, as another million people choose to live here, protecting the streams – the lifeblood of Maple Ridge – is crucial.

They knew, as do staff and council, that bending future growth around natural features, instead of trying to change nature to fit development, is by far the most economical approach.

Preserving the streams and the trees and verdure along the banks ensures the streams will exist for future generations. The protected valleys and streams will also capture rainwater and runoff, control erosion, shelter wildlife and provide valued recreation areas. Best of all, it does so for free – a perk of working with nature.

To contemplate the alternative, of removing natural drainage systems in return for elaborate and expensive storm sewer systems, so that homes could be built more closely to streams, or to build too close to slopes, then have taxpayers pay millions to control erosion, is simply nonsensical.

Council knew that and reaffirmed, again, that Maple Ridge possesses a valuable heritage that will grow more so over time. It reaffirmed that no matter how many issues Maple Ridge faces, it is united on  one fact: it will not compromise on a key part of its identity.  It was a strong decision for the future, one that hopefully it will not have to face again.

It was, to steal a phrase, Maple Ridge strong.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News