Transparency and timeliness of council responses to Maple Ridge citizens

October 28, 2011

Corisa Bell for Maple Ridge Council
Question asked at the Maple Ridge All Candidates meeting in Fraserview where candidates, including Corisa Bell, addressed specific questions.

Preamble: From the issues around small business and signage downtown, to the problems around trailer lengths on private property, there are citizens who feel they are not listened to by staff or council. Empty buildings that are eyesores, to sidewalk maintenance, to trees on city property that are damaging private property, it appears the only way to get action is to become the squeaky wheel. A local strata council had to pay upwards of $16,000 in fees to the city for repairs that were never inspected. When enquiries were made as to what constituted the $16,000 charge the response by city staff went from being hostile to outright ignoring the issue. A year later this Strata council is still waiting for an explanation of these charges.

Why is it citizens have to go directly to petitions, and rallying their neighbours to action, or try and get the local papers to broadcast what often are issues that could be dealt with openly, transparently, and quickly by staff. Without a doubt some people are happy with the job city hall is doing, yet voter turnout for elections is below 30%, and often when city hall has an open forum less than 1% of the population turns out to participate. It can be argued that the only way to get city hall to respond to an issue in a reasonable amount of time is to become a squeaker wheel then other groups and individuals who are also trying to get issues addressed by city hall.

Question: Do you feel that city hall is open and transparent when dealing with issues if so what is being done right, or what do you feel is being done wrong and how would you improve city hall to citizen communication?

I have spent the last couple of years calling for transparency in government and a government that works for the people who elect it. I fall into a generation that primarily was raised hearing comments such as ”What’s the point, they’re all the same” and ”It won’t make a difference anyway, they just don’t care.”

It should come as no surprise that voter turn out is hitting all-time lows, and the younger generation feels more disenfranchised now than ever

I’m running for council with the intent of being a voice for you, for us, so you can have somebody to come to when you have an issue and feel that you are being heard and know that you have a valid concern that will be dealt with. I want to be your squeaky wheel in government while advocating for greater efficiency to increase public confidence in their government.

I have many ideas for improving communication at City Hall including a blog where citizens can voice their opinions, and a public record of what is being worked on, what is completed, and what is not being done. Further, I would like to arrange to have a regular update in the local paper outlining the positive things being accomplished so people are aware of the work council is doing. I intend to keep my personal number public after the election so I can always be reached. I understand we live busy lives or physically can’t always get to a council meeting at 7pm at night.

If you want to be heard, you have to vote for people who care, not people who tell us one thing to get elected and then don’t accomplish the contents of their platform. We need to vote in people who volunteer because it’s a part of their heart to help, not because it looks good on their political resume. We have to encourage others to do the same; we can’t give up.

Click here to download responses to all 9 questions in PDF form

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