Maple Ridge council will consider whether to remove a school site designation at its next week’s council meeting.
The decision to consider it was made at Monday’s council committee meeting, a week after a Silver Valley resident made an impassioned plea to keep the school site on 136th Avenue.
Last week, Silver Valley resident Nicole Read spoke at Tuesday’s council meeting, and she pleaded with council not to take a school site designation off a property on 136th Avenue after the school district stated it doesn’t need the lot for a school.
Read quoted from the District of Maple Ridge’s Vision 2025 document that states the municipality wants to be a “world-leading example of thoughtful development and a socially cohesive community.”
Read said “in principle” the Silver Valley plan was an example of thoughtful planning but criticized how it was being carried out, but that “beyond building homes you are failing to execute the plan,” she said.
Read said lifting the zoning is “out of alignment” with the Vision 2025 document.
The municipality allowed homes to be built and realtors to sell, Read said, but “now that the homes are here, you fail to bring the amenities into our neighbourhoods that will bring us social cohesion,” she told council.
Read said if the plan cannot be executed as it was first envisioned, it is council’s “responsibility” to be thoughtful and undertake a replan process.
“Integrity is coming back to the public to admit that things are not proceeding as planned and replanning in a way that allows you to be true to Vision 2025,” Read said.
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said he felt the passion in Read’s presentation, but he was taken aback at the reference to council’s integrity.
“I don’t want to take that personally,” Daykin said. “But sometimes it’s hard not to.”
And he said he disagreed with her analysis of the execution of the area plan, saying “I think the Silver Valley Plan is working.”
“There’s some great examples of development up there that wouldn’t have happened without the vision of the plan,” Daykin added. “We’re trying to develop in a way that’s respectful of the terrain.”
Council also gave three more alternatives to the staff recommendation. First, to refer to the school district before giving the zoning amendment first reading. The second alternative is to deny the application and keep the status quo. The third application was to purchase the site for civic use.
Daykin said council has to balance its commitments throughout the community, and he questioned whether it would be fair to put so much cash into buying the site when there are other needs in the community.
In an ideal world, school, parks, and community spaces would be put into place before people moved in, but “that’s not the way it works,” Daykin said.
Daykin said he felt the criticism of Silver Valley could be compared to criticizing a house when it’s half-built, saying it’s an “ugly house.”
Albion is now reaching that “critical mass” that more commercial development is arriving.
Read said if the municipality is not in the business of buying school sites, they should not be in the business of planning them into the Official Community Plan.