With two years left in the current four-year terms of city councilors in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, rumors abound that members of each council are frequently at odds with their respective mayors.
Some of the disagreements have taken place behind closed doors while other confrontations have taken place in full public view, leading one observer to describe the most acrimonious exchanges as something akin to mud wrestling.
The latest brouhaha at Pitt Meadows council occurred when Mayor John Becker cut off questioning following a presentation by Patricia Gordon, a South Bonson area resident, who is opposed to phases 3 and 4 of the Onni Group’s Golden Ears Business Park expansion plans.
Becker also rang down the gavel when Coun.. Bill Dingwall attempted to have the question period extended.
Becker claimed Gordon’s allotted 10 minutes had expired and refused to extend the question period.
With Becker’s ruling, Gordon left council chambers, followed by several people who were there in support of her presentation. The departing people were joined by Coun.. Tracey Myashita.
The most recent clash between Dingwall and Becker isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
Dingwall said he wants to take the high road on these disagreements, but argues that the expansion of the Golden Ears Business Park is the most controversial issue currently before council and he felt it would have been more appropriate to allow Gordon to continue (She was invited back this past Tuesday).
Becker and Dingwall also have divergent opinions on the relationship between Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
Dingwall feels that, although the agreement on shared recreational services between the two cities is slated to end soon, they continue to share many common services and they should be working closely together.
In Maple Ridge, the bitter relations between Mayor Nicole Read and Coun.. Corisa Bell are common knowledge among council followers and the gulf between them appears to grow wider with no end in sight.
Bell has said she feels her stance at council reflects public interest.
Read has also garnered serious criticism over the ongoing failure of the city to reach an agreement with the province on the location and construction of a proposed new homeless shelter.
Read made the homeless issue an important component in her 2014 election campaign. She has since incurred the wrath of many local residents who feel she has failed to live up to the expectations created by her own campaign.
The rancor and divisiveness at city hall in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows has already moved preparations for the 2018 campaign into motion. Although the elections are two years away, activity has been brisk in both local cities to defeat the mayors and several incumbent councilors.
Not surprisingly, at least two former Maple Ridge councilors and one former mayor have indicated they are considering re-entry into the civic arena.
In Pitt Meadows, while nobody has committed themselves, it appears highly possible that at least one city councilor will oppose Becker’s likely campaign for a second term in the mayor’s seat.
Besides the strong possibility of heated mayoral campaigns in both cities, there will undoubtedly be a large number of candidates for council seats.
As the date for the next civic election approaches, the rumblings of mutiny in the ranks of both city councils will likely grow louder and promises a protracted and bitter several months ahead.
We can only hope that, when the results are compiled, the atmosphere in both city halls will return to normal and we can all get on with the challenging task of growing together as good neighbours.
Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.