Archives: November 2011

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How I was able to afford my signs / Plan to assume council position full time

November 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Blog

Since disclosing my campaign donors which amounted to just $2250.00, some people are asking how I’ve been able to afford a large number of signs in addition to my other campaign expenses.

Being elected to council the first time running is a difficult feat accomplished only a few times before. Mike Morden was able to accomplish this last election after receiving $11,540 in donations. Running against five incumbents, and seeing the amount of signs put up prior to Halloween, I knew I was going to have to campaign hard.

Signs have been an effective way for me to get my message and awareness out. I’ve been able to afford my signs for two reasons:

1) Fiscal Diligence
Having been involved in the Fight HST purchase of over 30,000 signs, I am aware of how low volume discounts can go, and was able to negotiate the absolute most competitive price possible.

2) Financial Ability
My husband and I run a successful e-commerce software company that boasts clients such as Telus.  I am fortunate to have the financial ability to self-finance my campaign.  I did not actively fund raise and rather accepted donations only from those who felt compelled to contribute.

That said, spending personal money to run for the first time in an election where 28 people are running for 6 positions, is a significant decision. I have chosen to do so because I am dedicated to representing the people of Maple Ridge. Having spoken to thousands upon thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses I understand the issues and challenges of our community and have chosen to run for council because I am dedicated to representing the people of Maple Ridge.

Our company is largely self-sufficient and I am not involved in most of the day-to-day operations.  This allows me the freedom to pursue my passion, that being improving the lives of others, my children, and the future of Maple Ridge.

If elected to council I intend to do so on a full-time basis.


Mayoral candidate Craig Ruthven endorses Corisa Bell for her commitment to the people

November 17, 2011 at 10:59 am | Blog

Mayoral candidate Craig Ruthven has endorsed 4 councilors: Graham Mowatt, Bob Masse, Corisa Bell and Randy Wagner.

Craig Ruthven
“She has lots of energy, and she’s sincere.  We need to have a more responsible government and she’s going to help us do that because she responds so quickly and naturally to the public.”

Corisa Bell
“I’m honored by mayoral candidate Craig Ruthven’s endorsement.  He knows people don’t have to see eye-to-eye on every single issue to appreciate one another for their strengths and what they have to offer the community.  Great example of leadership.”

View the endorsement video:

View Ruthven’s youtube video to learn more about his vision for Maple Ridge:

Three Maple Ridge candidates announce campaign contributors

November 16, 2011 at 8:55 am | Blog

Corisa Bell for Maple Ridge Council

By Phil Melnychuk – Maple Ridge News
Published: November 15, 2011 5:00 PM
Updated: November 15, 2011 5:04 PM

Three candidates have announced their financial supporters in advance of Saturday’s election, so voters can go to the polls better informed about who’s on the ballot.

Corisa Bell, Claus Andrup, and Craig Speirs have provided their lists.

“People do care, they absolutely do care,” said Bell, in her first civic election.

Public interest in the topic prompted her to research those who contributed to the present councillors three years ago, which she posted on her website.

“It’s about transparency and informing the voter so they can make an informed decision.”

Bell has no problem with candidates taking contributions from companies. But if they do, they should say so.

“If they’re comfortable taking donations, then they should be proud that they’re taking donations. If you’re getting paid $30,000 from multiple companies, you should be proud of that, if that’s your choice.”

Accepting donations could create perceptions of conflicts of interest in council decisions when council is deciding on a proposal from a contributor, said Bell, who has accepted $2,250 in donations from individuals and businesses.

“Even if you say it doesn’t influence you, I can’t believe that to be true.”

Such practices lead to cynicism and apathy from the public, said Speirs.

Many people now think the decisions are made ahead of time, based on contributions, which leads to cynicism and low voter turnout.

“I think it hurts the democratic process. It just feels wrong.

“I get a lot of agreement on that from citizens.”

Claus Andrup has the same perspective. He announced his contributors ($6,810) on his Facebook page and said he’d accept contributions from corporations which he supported, acknowledging it could create a perception of conflict if he voted on a proposal to council from that donor.

Publicizing those donations beforehand though gets it all in the open and allows voters more information on those candidates.

“You get clarity on those person’s views.”

That could also spare disappointment from voters after learning their councillors voted against an issue because of their donors.

“You feel you’ve been duped.”

“Do I think candidates should make known their donations prior to voting day? Yes, I do.”

Speirs released his campaign donors ($350) Monday and will be listing them in advertisement.

During the commission on electoral reform, Speirs put in a submission calling for an end to corporate and union donations, and that realtors or developers not be allowed to vote on land-use decisions.

The B.C. Elections task force recommended to limit spending in municipal elections and extended the term for councils from three to four years.

Since the province isn’t interested in limiting contributions, “I think we have to do it ourselves to try to win back some of the trust of our voters,” Speirs said.

He rejects the argument from his opponents that candidates are also influenced by union contributions because council decisions have less to do with union matters than they do with decisions on development, which comprises most of council’s work.

“It’s a false argument and deflective.”

But to address that, Speirs also has rejected contributions from unions.

Mayoralty candidate Craig Ruthven said he’s only received contributions from individuals and those contributions are all under $50. “I’m keeping the donations small.”

Ernie Daykin doesn’t plan on announcing his contributors. “I guess they think it makes a difference on how people are going to vote.”

Daykin said he’s spending a third of what he did in the 2008 campaign. So far, expenses are ringing in at $8,800. He doesn’t have to buy election signs this time around and he’s cut back advertising.

“There are some things I don’t have to do. It’s a different campaign.”

Calls to incumbent Couns. Al Hogarth, Mike Morden and Judy Dueck weren’t returned.

Dueck, though, said in an earlier e-mail said she’d be providing full disclosure when she files her expenses, after the election, and said candidates should be asked about all donations, not just those from developers.

Campaign donations

Financial contributors to Claus Andrup’s campaign, as of Nov. 13:

• Big Valley Heating, $200;

• Meadows Cleaners, $200;

• Claus Andrup, $2,730;

• Jeffrey Ciachurski, $1,500;

• Deborah Andrup, $1,150;

• Brad Nick, $600;

• Ian McLeod, $130;

• Louise Pelton, $100;

• V. John Wardlow, $100;

• Robert Bryce, $100.

Total cash donations, $6,810

In-kind donations:

• Jon Teo Design, (website) $1,200;

• Waite Bird Photos (photography) $500;

• Iron Horse Media (videography) $225.

Financial contributors to Corisa Bell’s campaign, as of Nov. 15:

• Wilf and Lynn McIntyre, $1,800;

• Andy Cleven, $100;

• Meadows Cleaners, $100;

• Michael Sather, $150;

• Sal Vetro, $100.

The remaining campaign expenditures are funded by Corisa Bell herself with personal funds and money through her company, WebsiteCM Software Inc.

Financial contributors to Craig Speirs’ campaign

• Andy and Karen Cleven, $100;

• Steve and Janet Amsden, $50;

• Kelly Speirs, $200.

The balance of Speirs’s $3,000 campaign is self-funded.

Disclosure of Donations

November 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Blog

While Corisa has a policy not to view her donors, as her campaign manager I am making these public on her behalf.  Corisa believes that transparency of government officials is paramount to democracy and encourages all candidates to make their donors public prior to the election this Saturday.

Wilf and Lynn McIntyre – $1800

Andy Cleven – $100

Meadows Cleaners – $100

Michael Sather – $150

Sal Vetro – $100

Dr. Shiraz Mawani – $50

The remaining campaign expenditures are funded by Corisa herself with personal funds and money through her company, WebsiteCM Software Inc.


Maple Ridge: a little known land of diverse opportunities

November 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Blog

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jasmine Gurm from “The Source form of diversity” about Maple Ridge.

Here is my excerpt:

… its charm is drawing families from all over, and it is precisely what captured the heart of city council candidate Corisa Bell when she was a child. Bell is originally from Terrace B.C., but spent her summers in Maple Ridge with relatives while growing up. Since then, she says she has always wanted to live in Maple Ridge, and nowhere else.

Bell moved to Maple Ridge six years ago to raise her two girls. “I want them to be raised here, with small-town mentality, [but] with big-town opportunities,” she says. Something the UID recognizes. The UID is proud that events like theirs help promote multiculturalism and diversity. They say it gives newcomers and longtime residents a chance to revel in an event that has grown from hosting close to 50 people back in 1992 to more than 500 people, today.

Their events have featured 70 cultures, including the contributions of the area’s Katzie First Nation. “[Maple Ridge] is beautiful,” says Bell. “I want [my girls] to grow up and think – there is nowhere else in the world I would want to live than here.”

Click on the image to read the entire article:

Maple Ridge - Corisa Bell in The Source

Click here to read the full issue of The Source.

No increased bus or West Coast Express service in Maple Ridge through 2021

November 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Blog

Increased bus and/or West Coast Express service is a considerable concern for many Maple Ridge residents. I took the opportunity to look at the Translink base and supplemental plans to see what benefit Maple Ridge may receive, and the forecast looks to be none.

Here’s a graph from the Base Plan showing there is no anticipated West Coast Express service:

This can be seen on page 22 of the 2012 Base Plan and Outlook document.

There has been some talk that we may receive increased services pending a supplemental plan that is currently under review. It would seem however, that supplemental plan also does not include any increased bus or West Coast Express service in Maple Ridge.

This can be found on page 18 of the document Moving Forward: Improving Metro Vancouver’s Transportation Network.

Further, you can see even in the supplemental plan there is no planned increase in West Coast Express service:

This can be found on page 20 of the document Moving Forward: Improving Metro Vancouver’s Transportation Network.

Urban sprawl in Maple Ridge encouraged by development donations

November 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Blog
Let me start by saying I am in no way anti-development. Over the next 20-30 years we are going to need to develop enough housing to double our population and develop industrial and commercial properties to provide associated shopping and jobs. This is why the way in which we develop is going to be so important. Urban sprawl – that is building on the outskirts of town leaving areas under serviced by schools, without sidewalks, transit, and street lights – is already a significant problem with our city and I believe is costing us much in increased taxes. If we double our population in this manner we are going to face serious problems, so I believe it is crucial that we develop responsibly now more than ever. I will follow up with this on a future blog post.

The Maple Ridge news recently ran a story titled “Developers court Ridge candidates” which encouraged me to dig a bit deeper into the exact donor lists.  I researched the campaign donations incumbents received in 2008 and have documented them below.  In the first column you will see the incumbent quotes from the before mentioned article.  You can then see my comments and of course click to view the entire list of donors for each person.

Looking at the Council Minutes for 2008-2011 you will see a trend of these councilors voting for rezoning and further development contributing to urban sprawl, while the other two councillors who were not funded by developers typically were in opposition.

Incumbent Incumbent Comments My Comments
Al Hogarth
View Donors
“No one or at least not many step forward to offer campaign funds.  My largest contributions came from my own company, passed clients, friends and associates. I view campaign donations no differently than endorsements of groups, unions or other organizations that support not necessarily me but others …” Al’s company, passed clients, friends, and associates would seem to include developers, realtors, contractors, etc.

Note that “Progressive” is listed as “Progressive Construction” in Judy Dueck’s donor list.

Cheryl Ashlie
View Donors
“Yes, I have been approached by developers with the offer of campaign contributions. I recognize that this is common practice, but I personally prefer to fund my campaign differently. If I get a cheque sent to me, which some do automatically, I put it in a thank-you card and send it back.  I have set people who assist me – friends, family and one local family that I have always accepted funds from, due to the respect that I have for their commitment to our community. I will report them all out with my usual after-election disclosure forms.” I would consider mortgage companies related to development.
Ernie Daykin
View Donors
No comment. The amount of developers on this list speaks for itself.
Judy Dueck
View Donors
No comment. Judy was funded by a lot of developers for somebody who works in the school district.
Michael Morden
View Donors
“My campaign fund donations are coming from various places as I understand it from my financial agent. I don’t have all the details as to who and how much. He will comply with the rules per Elections BC.You ask about my policy on accepting donations. My policy is that I follow the Elections BC rules and I have the right of refusal of any donations that I deem as an inappropriate donation to accept.

Why is it that you always focus on the developers and the donations they give? What about CUPE and BCTF donating and endorsing candidates? How about adding some other questions to this like the value of in-kind donations such as the value of endorsements from unions? How are some going to account for these kind of things that clearly have enormous value to someone but aren’t necessarily actual monies.

I see that the teachers union endorsed certain candidates the other day in your paper for trustee. What is the value of this? Is this a fair practice?”

You have to google most of Michael’s donors to find out who they are and which are related to development. Google is your friend.
I have received only minor donations, none of which have come from people involved in development, unions, etc. I have funded my campaign almost entirely with personal money.


Is anyone beside Corisa Bell prepared to campaign against taxes?

November 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Blog

By Robert Prince, The Bugel
October 12, 2011

Shooting From The Lip - Robert PrinceIs it just me, or have you, dear reader, also noticed that municipal politicians of all stripes have given up on campaigning against higher taxes?

Once upon a time, and it wasn’t that long ago in the greater scheme of things, the key feature in most municipal elections was a battle between those in the “tax and spend” camp, and those in the “cut taxes” camp.

That battle, however, has gone the way of the dodo bird, and the result has been non-stop property tax and fee increases year after year after year.

Yes every year, like clockwork, property taxes go up an average of four to six percent, far outpacing the rate of inflation (at least in recent years), and every year it’s almost guaranteed that service fees at municipal hall or any of the facilities it operates will climb a little bit higher.

So my question is this: When did it become a bad thing to campaign against tax increases?

Or perhaps the better question is: When did people decide they really don’t mind paying more and more taxes, year after year?

After all, people spend a lot of time complaining about how they’re sick to death of higher taxes. Perversely, they then vote for the same tax-hiking politicians who have proven repeatedly that they are only going to continue increasing taxes.

These voters can’t possibly be thinking such politicians are going to change their stripes if reelected, because these councillors keep approving higher taxes and fees, which means the politicians must believe that higher taxes are the right thing to do.

All of which can only mean that voters don’t really have a problem paying more to municipal governments annually.

But if that’s the case, why is there so much complaining about taxation, and so little praise for the politicians who are obviously only giving the people what they’ve been voting for: ie. tax and spend public policy.

I haven’t checked out all of the candidates for Maple Ridge council yet because the deadline for filing isn’t until Friday and I don’t know who they all are, but so far the only one who has contacted me with an anti-tax campaign platform is Corisa Bell, the anti-HST fighter.

I’m not endorsing Corisa… just pointing out that she’s the only one who appears to be bucking a trend that is fast becoming more than a trend… more like entrenched policy.

If there are any more anti-tax campaigners out there, it would be nice to see them on the ballot come November 19, if for no other reason than that it would at least force the “tax and spend” politicians to justify their annual tax hikes in an election campaign.

Questions from Maple Ridge Times for Municipal Election Candidates

November 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Blog

Questions for Maple Ridge Council candidates:

  1. What neighbourhood do you live in? Rock Ridge.
  2. How many years have you lived in Maple Ridge? Full time resident 6 years.  My family settled here six generations ago so I spent a good part of my 30 years in Haney.
  3. How many Maple Ridge council meetings have you attended? I’ve attended one, presented to council in Pitt Meadows, and do read the council minutes online.
  4. Should Maple Ridge increase the availability of bike lanes? Y. Absolutely bike lanes are needed however due to the state of our economy that has families trying to make ends meet, combined with funding cuts across the board, I believe this infrastructure should be planned for but tabled for a couple of years from now.
  5. Should an effort be made to make roads safer for bikes? Y. There are many areas in Maple Ridge where roads, and sidewalks (or lack thereof) need to be addressed for both bikers and pedestrian safety.
  6. Should the Albion Flats be developed for shopping? N. I would prefer to see densification of the downtown core.  Extending shopping east is going to encourage residential sprawl to the east and we can’t currently afford adequate services to these areas as it is.
  7. Should the Albion Flats be developed for industrial? N.
  8. Should the Albion Flats be developed for residential? N. The schools of this area could not support the development.
  9. Should the Albion Flats be developed for mixed use? D.
  10. Is enough effort being made to preserve farmland? D.
  11. Should Maple Ridge have municipal garbage pickup? Y. I spoke with Ernie Daykin who informed me municipal garbage pickup would increase each household’s land tax by $200.  If elected to council I intend to negotiate down that cost and see pickup implemented at a rate cheaper than what we are currently paying individually.
  12. Are Maple Ridge’s recycling opportunities adequate? Y. We have one of the best, if not the best, recycling depots in the Fraser Valley.
  13. Should there be municipal bylaws to fight marijuana? N. It’s difficult to discourage grow operations through fines since such operations tend to net much more revenue than the bylaws can fine.
  14. Should mayor and council revisit their pay schedule? Yes. We are in a recession and should all be looking to tighten our belts.  I feel the mayor and council should set an example and would like to see the 13% pay raise council gave themselves just prior to this election reversed.  The citizens of Maple Ridge are not getting cost of living raises and either should council.
  15. Are Maple Ridge property taxes appropriate? N. Property taxes have gone up almost 30% since 2006 and current council intends to continue raising them a minimum of 4% every year. Our city has a reliance on personal property taxes higher than any neighboring community.  We can’t afford to continue growing with this reliance on increasing personal property taxes as residents are feeling squeezed by the costs particularly in light of the current economy.  I believe it is necessary for us to focus on bringing business to Maple Ridge to build a commercial tax base so we can take financial pressure off a community that consists primarily of families and seniors.
  16. Should more effort be made to deal with homelessness in Maple Ridge? Yes. The homeless count in Maple Ridge has increased 250% since 2005 with women and youth under 25 as the fastest growing homeless demographic. The creation of the Alouette Heights Supportive Housing will need to be monitored closely for its impact on this social problem.
  17. Are you satisfied with the Golden Ears Bridge? N. I would like to see the toll lowered to encourage usage.
  18. Do you support greater densification in Maple Ridge? Yes. The further our community spreads the more costs are associated with servicing it.  As our community continues to build residential properties in the outskirts of town the infrastructure and service requirement costs are growing exponentially. I feel we need to encourage development in the core of the town and plan to grow responsibly and within our economic means.
  19. Should there be more money for community facilities in Maple Ridge? Yes. The term “community facility” can cover everything from hospitals and libraries to parks and play grounds, so I feel this question could use some clarification.  We have a thriving and generous volunteer base in this community, so I would like to see improved cohesion between the city and volunteer groups to reduce operating and maintenance costs to do more with less.

Cycling questions for Maple Ridge Election Council Candidates

November 3, 2011 at 11:52 am | Blog

The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition is candidates running in the Maple Ridge municipal election questions related to cycling.

My responses are as follows:

1. What modes of transportation do you normally use within your community and within Metro Vancouver?

We live in Rock Ridge and the road out of our community has no extra space for pedestrians, whether walking or cycling.  I would like to see roads and bike lanes improved in our community including the roadway which leads to Golden Ears Lake.  In the last two years I have seen multiple car accidents on this road and have seen one child hit by a car while they were biking – I’m surprised I haven’t seen more.

Our family including my mom and dad enjoy riding bikes together.  Typically we have to drive to safe places to bike such as Barnston Island.  We also do not have a bus running up to our area, and with two children we can’t take the bus as we would have to walk home in the dark.  We do our best to reduce emissions and plan errand runs along with trips to dance or pick-up or drop-off from school.  We had to take a huge loss on a Saturn hybrid we previously bought as it would break down on us routinely despite being purchased new.  We now drive a Hyundai Santa Fe which uses 10-11L per 100km.

There are no convenient connections between Maple Ridge and Vancouver.  The West Coast Express runs on business hours and the bus commute, especially with two children, is a long series of transfers which takes many hours each way.  When travelling around Vancouver we walk or sky train depending on distance.

2.  How would you support and encourage cycling for transportation – for people of all ages and abilities – to promote healthy and livable communities?

Maple Ridge needs to become more dense and create paths for cycling to be safe and practical.  As the city then grows, these paths can become increasingly larger.  Our community also needs to improve infrastructure so that people feel safe on a bike.

3. There have been many surveys asking people what it would take to get them on a bike. The number one thing people want is separated cycling facilities. How would you support separated bike lanes on key routes? If you are not in support, please explain why.

Obviously safety is the biggest issue here.  The road from Albion to Lougheed for example is of particular concern for me as my husband and daughter used to bike it frequently and the lack of a divider caused me to cringe every time.  Separated cycling facilities on key routes I believe would encourage more biking.

4. Maple Ridge has no off-road (non-mountain-) biking/multi-use trails and is lagging behind other Lower Mainland communities in this respect. How do you feel off-road biking/multi-use trails can benefit Maple Ridge, and how do you suggest to start developing a network of trails.

Connecting Maple Ridge to existing trails of other communities would be the most cost effective way to start developing a network and would increase awareness of such trails in our community by connecting with other cyclists.

5. If elected, would you aim to increase or decrease cycling funding from current levels? Do you feel that cycling funding levels should merely reflect the present level of cycling in our communities, or should it reflect the potential of cycling – not only as a means of transportation and for recreation, but also in view of the many desirable benefits cycling has for individuals as well as for our communities/society, such as health benefits, improved livability, reduced greenhouse gasses/pollution, reduced oil-dependency, reduced need for expensive car infrastructure/parking lots, reduced congestion, etc.?

Our ability to rely on oil has an expiration date.  We need to look at providing alternates and need to ensure the groundwork for our future takes this into account so we don’t build our city in a way that makes this difficult or financially problematic.  I would like to see a long term plan created for the future of cycling in our community and arrange to see responsible, gradual spending to see this achieved.

6. What is your level of interest in a public bike-share system integrated with the transit system? How do you think a public bike-share system in Vancouver can benefit Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows residents?

I believe we need far better cycling infrastructure in Maple Ridge before this makes sense for us.

7. What role do you think the municipality has in supporting and promoting cycling education for children, cyclists and motorists?

The municipality and councillors I believe have a role of liaison to the cyclist coalitions and organizations who are passionate about cycling and who can provide insight necessary to understand and support cycling for the benefit of our community.  The municipality then has the responsibility of ensuring the infrastructure, safety and implementation of such support.

8. How do you feel e-bikes can play a role in our transportation system?

E-bikes can be used to encourage less physically fit users, or those with physical limitations, to reduce their reliance on carbon emission travels as well as encourage them to engage and participate in riding with friends and family.

9. What do you see as the benefits of e-bikes as compared to cars?

E-bikes are cheaper to purchase, cheaper to maintain, and cheaper to run.  They can reduce our reliance on oil and let’s not forget they’re much easier to park than cars!  The environmental benefits over cars are extensive and anything that can be done to ease congestion is a huge benefit.

10. What can e-bikes mean for less densely populated suburban communities like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows?

Due to the sprawl of our community, many people are far from town and the length of a bike ride to go anywhere meaningful is beyond their general cycling ability and/or their time crunched schedule.  E-bikes can provide an alternative to general biking for the practical rider as opposed to the enthusiast.

11. Would you be interested in joining members of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition on a bike ride through your community?

My family and I would love to!

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