I love the community of Maple Ridge, its people, and I believe in its potential. When I first ran for Council in 2008, people told me there was no point because nothing in Maple Ridge ever changes. I didn’t believe that then and I certainly know it isn’t true now. I have seen changes over the past six years. Maple Ridge is changing and changing for the better. I agree that the process is very slow. It can be very frustrating how things seem to move at a snail’s pace with everything being studied and then reported on, and then studied some more before any changes can be made. Part of that is because we’ve built up such a large bureaucracy. But it is there because the electorate and the public have created it. It has grown to meet the interests of everyone, hence its size. There is also a ton of legislation out there that has to be worked within. As soon as you think you have a workable plan to make change you then commence the public hearing process that generally results in the plan needing modification again. It’s a true test in patience!
We, at Municipal government, are the lowest in the four layers of government. We are the only level of government not permitted to run deficit budgets and we operate with 8 cents of your tax dollar. There is not a lot of money to make the changes that lead to improvements in a community but I definitely strive to do my best with it and to use it as effectively as possible.
My resolution as your new Mayor will be to first and foremost provide strong leadership and direction for Council and city staff. I have demonstrated this leadership as a Councillor, business owner, volunteer, and a citizen in our city and I know how to enlist the support of others in pursuit of common goals. I lead by example and believe that mentorship is paramount to helping others to become leaders as well and that is what we need if Maple Ridge is to become the great city it should be.
For me it’s not about the politics but the people who make up Maple Ridge. As a common sense leader I understand that we must work within our current political and bureaucratic structure. This is why I have pursued strong relations with those in senior government. This gives us a voice when it comes to issues such as education and health, and resources such as social housing, public transportation, new transportation routes, parks and leisure spaces.
I know that delivery of service, done correctly and in a timely manner, leads to more of the same and this is what I want for our city. A by-product of great service is that it helps to cut waste through greater efficiencies and this attracts business and commerce. When needless delays and blockages are removed people are happier to do business resulting in a more diversified tax base, which in turn relieves the strain on homeowners and builds a stronger local economy.
Yet, a strong local economy is not all that is necessary to make a great city. Great cities are places that attract people and encourage them to share their unique talents and abilities. Maple Ridge does that. We have festival days and concerts in our parks, a weekly farm market through the spring, summer, and early fall, plays and performances at The Act, and a number of other events that draw our citizens together. Maple Ridge also has a high rate of volunteerism and this shows how much we care about the city we call home. I honour and respect that and know that in recent years worries about crime and homelessness have impacted the comfort and feelings of safety for many of our citizens and diminished some of the joy in community activities and celebrations. These are very real problems and I promise to put together and lead a task force on homelessness and then take the meaningful steps to put together a plan and enact it so that this problem is dealt with in a real and meaningful way.
I am an goal-oriented person and believe in good planning followed by strong action. I have a strong track record of the results I have obtained during my two terms on Council including marijuana grow-operation regulations, cell tower regulations, an employment incentive program, business planning changes to allow new Councillors to be trained in Governance, create a strategic plan, and then go into the budget with the needed knowledge to fully appreciate the process and implications.
My two terms on Council have given me the valuable insight into the realities of working in local government. Two terms serving the Union of B.C. Municipalities has given me the privilege of advocating for our municipal needs at the provincial level. Chairing our Finance Committee for three years has given me strong insight into how our city business works. Running my own business has given me the necessary skills and abilities to lead our community.
Over the past two terms, I have listened; I have learned; and I have planned. By nature, I am a problem solver and have tried to be the voice of reason on Council. Yet, I have watched while Council members fight amongst themselves, forgetting the very reason they ran for office – to represent you. Amidst this petty squabbling there has been no leadership, no consensus, allowing the bureaucracy to run our city without clear direction. This is the city I fell in love with 25 years ago and I know you love it too but, like many of you, I am frustrated.
As your Mayor, I will make the necessary changes for Maple Ridge to be the great city it should be with local employment, lower taxes, a friendlier City Hall, and quality public safety. Let’s work together to make our community the best place to live – one we are proud to call home.
Vote for Michael Morden for Mayor for a future of growth and prosperity with a consensus Council that has the courage to act for the better of our community.
Get out and vote on November 15th. Bring a friend. Bring your family. Do it for our community – our future depends on it.