Sensible financial decisions for our future

Cost-of-Living

 

I have lived in Maple Ridge for 23 years now. Every year, the costs of living here continue to climb. I am sure that it is no different in the other communities that form the Metro Vancouver region, yet despite this commonality these increases are simply not sustainable for most families.. Where will it all end? When did you last get a raise? When did you last hear of living becoming more affordable?

We, as a Council, need to make sensible decisions as to how taxpayers’ dollars are spent. I am in favour of the Province of B.C.’s new Auditor General (which comes into legislation this fall) taking a close look at how Municipal monies are spent. In fact, for the record I am in favour of all levels of government, as well as crown corporations, being reviewed from top to bottom, We need to know what assets they hold, how they spend operations money, day-to-day spending, and all other monies spent. Indeed, we need to know everything! It is my belief, that with careful and respectful audits, we will discover money that is wasted through inefficient and ineffective operations and valuable assets sitting idle – all of which are paid for by the hard-earned money of taxpayers. I think we’ve all had enough! It is time to change the ongoing expectation that taxpayers will just continue to suck it up and continue to pay the ever-increasing tax burden. I will advocate hard for greater accountability, increased efficiency, and reduction in wasted resources because I do believe when the rocks are turned over, there will be savings. I also believe that government can make much better use of tax revenue by identifying not only waste and inefficiencies but also to identify needs and properly meet them with well-planned and delivered programs. I look forward to the audit initiative of the Provincial government and its result.

 

(9) Comments

  1. A sound platform – I want to know how my tax dollars are being spent. I also want to see developement of our business sector. Industrial and business developement must consider the needs of local residents.

  2. Sprawl is very expensive, especially in the long run. Of course it’s nice if you can offer people large lot living, but sprawl is financially unsustainable, as Mr. Gill explained very clearly. Large-lot hop-scotch sprawl also doesn’t help the municipality at all to get people out of their cars and onto transit. I saw on one of your other posts that you want to add “connections” to other municipalities? Do you mean east-west corridors? Where would you propose to build those? I thought the only remaining expansion that we can hope for in the foreseeable future would be 4-laning of 128th/Abernathy?

  3. See your post http://www.mikemorden.com/?p=146 (Better transportation is needed but how will this get paid for?) You wrote: “We need connector routes to move vehicles and transit from the East side of Maple Ridge to the West to connect to the Pitt River bridge as well as the Golden Ears bridge. For our future we need to be working towards more connections from Maple Ridge to the balance of the existing systems in other cities and municipalities.”

    So where would those connectors/connections be, and how would they be paid for?

    I still also am interested in your explanation of why you support car-dependent sprawl, and if you think it’s financially smart for the District to allow large lot hopscotch development on the outskirts of town. This of course with respect to the higher costs of all the needed services, the infrastructure deficit – we are downloading the costs onto our kids – and also the District’s commitment to Greenhouse Gas Emissions reductions of 33% from 2007 to 2020, which it looks like we’re not going to make by a long shot. It absolutely makes sense to look at the emissions from transportation, since they make up about 57% of all emissions in our community. The data are not yet available on the new Maple Ridge website, but when I last looked, the emissions actually had gone up instead of down. Do you believe the District is doing a good job in that respect?

  4. 18000 vehicles registered to Maple Ridge residents in the last decade need to be commuting quickly and efficiently. Idling is hard on their time, their pocket book and the environment. Main arterials need to be opened up such as the Abernethy connector. We need to move goods and services as well as people. The progress is beyond frustrating here. This one roadway appeared in our 2008 business plan to be done over the three year term to get us to 232nd. Look where we are today. No progress for the car, but progress for cycling and walking along a small section that will be dug up again within the decade. This was plain and simply a waste of money. The MUP should have been put in its final location. The blame for this roadway not being delivered in a timely fashion always comes back to the Translink lack of funding issue. As many don’t realize, Translink is more than public Transit, and part of their mandate is to fund roadways classified as ‘major road network’ with a 50% contribution. So our citizens continue to wait.

    The issue you reference as ‘car-dependant sprawl’ can’t be just dealt with in isolation. You know the history of how we got where we are today. The enactment of two area plans being done concurrently spread us far and wide without a look at the consequences. The net result is two areas that aren’t well served with amenities. We have an OCP which lays out the ground work for where our future residents will live. That process was a Provincial requirement and can’t be undone. What can be done is concentrate on making sensible decisions as we go knowing that we must not grow further beyond our urban containment boundary.

    I fully grasp the infrastructure issue and its future maintenance costs. It was just reported to us that with $1.3B in municipal infrastructure, we need $30M annually to service and maintain it. We are working on this financially but are far away from resolving this.

    On greenhouse gases, we fall short on the targets. Follow the next paragraph and we will lower greenhouse gases.

    What would you have residents do to get to their jobs outside the community? The answer is to not have them leave as much as possible. We must create employment within the urban containment area and grow sensibly within that boundary. More people working here means less cars on the road, more balanced tax revenue, a lot less wear and tear on our residents which leads to a happier and healthier residents. The decisions that need to be made all come down to land use. We must use land more efficiently in order to net complete communities. History can’t be changed but I know we can do a lot better. Status quo though isn’t the answer, time to make the tough decisions and get on with it.

  5. So with “We need connector routes to move vehicles and transit from the East side of Maple Ridge to the West to connect to the Pitt River bridge as well as the Golden Ears bridge” and “more connections from Maple Ridge to the balance of the existing systems in other cities and municipalities.” you just mean that Abernathy/128th needs to be widened to 4 lanes. No other connector routes. With the expected growth in north and east Maple Ridge as well as the cars and trucks traveling through Maple Ridge from Mission, do you think that will be sufficient if we continue to focus on cars as the way to get around? Despite the widening of Abernathy/128th being in the draft Transportation Plan, according to Urban Systems the traffic in west Maple Ridge is expected to double in the next 20 years. It’s unlikely that that’s a satisfactory outcome for residents. What else can we do, in your opinion?

    How are you planning to get jobs to Maple Ridge? Have you been able to get jobs to Maple Ridge in the past 5 years? Any success stories to tell?

    Even if residents work in Maple Ridge, they still need to get to work, unless they work from home. So don’t we need to do more to make sure that people can get around locally without using a car, so we can reduce the need for ever more – and ever more expensive – parking?

    • To answer your questions point by point.
      you just mean that Abernathy/128th needs to be widened to 4 lanes. No other connector routes. There are several items that need to be looked at. I would like to see some detail on the PM north Lougheed connector. This will impact our community. Other routes too, such as 132nd, River road, not many to choose from are there. These are even supposed to be corridor routes but have morphed into this due the the volumes of cars. This is partly the point that we are very limited in the choices we can make due to planning. No large scale transportation plan was made and stuck to in our community’s early years. The north connector route that was planned was abandoned. Our geographcal constraints alone puts us at huge disadvantage. The widening of the Pitt River bridge and the new Golden Ears bridge are the best godsend to ever come our way and we need to ensure its not to let our citizens leave everyday and spend elsewhere. According to the 2013 Rollo report, Maple Ridge has an annual spending leakage of in excess of $100M annually.
      do you think that will be sufficient if we continue to focus on cars as the way to get around? No. We need multi pronged approach. I have spoken often about this already in that focusing on our economy will drive the much better end result. Are we catering to commuters or trying to build our local economy so people can work here? The answer is both at the same time so that one day you have planned for commuter routes within your own community, which now has an economy that supports short commutes to local work; with transportation and infrastructure to support that local economy, and the commuter routes leaving our community become less of a worker commute and more the route for goods going to go to other market. Today the car and commuting out of town is a reality for 65% of our residents. They wouldn’t do this if they had a choice. Proper long term transportation planning is required. River Road residents are insisting on traffic calming. While this route is busyier than ever before, the net results of plugging these B routes is that the A routes get more congested. Until we provide relief in the form of a completed Abernethy connector to at least 232nd, things are just going to get worse before they get better.

      How are you planning to get jobs to Maple Ridge? Have you been able to get jobs to Maple Ridge in the past 5 years? Any success stories to tell? I will get jobs into Maple Ridge using my employment incentive program. It was supposed to be here already but has been held up by Council not approving the Industrial Commercial strategy. The employment incentive is one part of this. Land use decisions is the other. The prior reviews done in the area all have recommendations including making some land use decisions. How many land use decisions has MR made in the last one or two decades? None. My caution to all of Council in doing the work on this review that we must follow through, otherwise the result will be more of the same. Study, accept and carry on with the same old. In addition it is my desire to push past the recommendations. One recommendation alludes to taking residential lands and turning them to employment. Certainly something consider depending on the OCP implications.
      The second part of the question, have we been able to get jobs into Maple Ridge? The simple answer is no. Our number of business’ are stagnant, employment advances little, due to lack of available lands, incentives, as well no land use decisions being made. Our cumbersome regulatory structure doesn’t help.
      To your last comment, parking long term will be a challenge. Most communities in history addressed this with parkades and the like. Not really the best way to go in my view. Im not sure our ground will support us going below ground. Im told there were a lot of problems with one level under the tower at city hall. I would prefer go down into the ground for cars than above ground surface parking. I think if local commuting is planned for in advance with walking and non motorized transport use, we can alleviate this. The best way has to be good reliable Transit due to our conditions on the wet coast. We all know Translink doesn’t deliver a great service for Maple Ridge. We are told they can’t afford to and that we don’t have the population base to support it. I would seriously be looking at whether we are well served in this area and what other options are there that we might look at. I don’t have those answers but I know the questions to ask and the result our citizens are looking for.

  6. Hi Mike,
    I am actually liking a lot of what your saying, certainly the part on how governments need to look at what they are spending money on and stopping the waste.

    I did read the times article dealing with the new grow ops, and would love to hear your thoughts on this new upcoming business. I also agree with the fact they are agriculture and should be taxed as such, the payback to the community would be in job growth.
    Last time I checked Maple Ridge had a 6% unemployment rate, which is pretty sad considering all the opps we have here for business growth.

    One further question I have, is why does it appear that all tenders put out by Maple Ridge seem to go to companies outside of Maple Ridge, do we not have companies within Maple Ridge that could do this work? I know when tendering your always going to look at the lowest bids, but one needs to consider that whole impact of the bidding process and what the outcome to the community at large can be by providing local jobs with local contractors.
    Either we have no one capable of doing the work or somehow we are just not making it a viable contract for local businesses to do the work. Or worse still, the system currently being used to tender contracts, is just not informing our local businesses well enough.

    • Our Council felt we were making the right decision on where to allow legal grow ops based in part on the Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to list this as a permitted use. They have the jurisdiction on ALR lands and therefore it made sense to push all this activity there, within certain parameters that we laid out in the new bylaw. This of course is all up in the air with the charter challenge currently underway, leaving municipal governments in “no mans land” again. Additionally it is unclear how these facilities will be taxed. We won’t know for any certainty until one of these is approved in Maple Ridge and we see what BC Assessment determines. We did feel that if we placed this activity in industrial zones, it has evidence of not mixing well with other businesses, and depending on the tax ruling, cuts into the possible tax yield from industrially zones lands.
      On employment in this industry, my knowledge in this area leads me to see this industry as not particularly manpower intensive. Lots of our industrial lands don’t employ many persons per acre, and I see this as not too dissimilar. Again this business will have to evolve to see how this nets out for employment opportunities.
      Tenders in Maple Ridge are set out in our purchasing policy. I would agree that this should be reviewed so as to facilitate more local bidding on goods and services. I keep a things to do list, which is pretty large, and will add this to policies to have reviewed. My previous security company bid on services at the District and were a match for pricing to the existing Surrey and Vancouver based company doing the work today. I even threw in some work at no charge to add value to our deal, but the District chose to stay with the existing provider. With a policy review we would look at what your last paragraph poses as possibilities. Your point is well taken as I have heard of other local business’ complain of the same. This goes to much needed work to open this municipality up for business…..a much bigger discussion.

Comments are closed.