I have never in my life participated in a protest or demonstration… not until earlier this week. It’s not my style to be confrontational.
Still, I felt it was necessary to speak up, not only with words, but with action. This isn’t a big issue to anyone except those whose quiet lifestyle may possibly disappear, but it struck me that what is involved here should worry all Maple Ridge residents.
Since 1874 this area has been developed with a focus on its natural setting. From the District of Maple Ridge’s own website:
“Situated on the shores of the mighty Fraser River and nestled against the Coastal Mountains, Maple Ridge is a mecca of adventure for the outdoor enthusiast. Located 45 kilometers east of Vancouver, it is a progressive community well-known for its beautiful countryside and spectacular scenery. It is a community of urban sophistication that retains a sense of rural charm.”
Because of the rural aspect, the website also warns that residents must be “bear aware” since last year “there were over 900 reported bear sightings in Maple Ridge.”
So you wouldn’t really expect to choose a home in one of the residential neighbourhoods that happen to border on a section of the Agricultural Land Reserve in the middle of this city of 76,000, and subsequently discover a proposal to remove that land from the ALR, not even for more residences, but for the development of a gravel quarry, would you? But that’s what’s happening.
It doesn’t directly affect me, but it disturbs me because it affects friends. And if it can happen in their neighbourhood, no doubt it could happen in any surrounding neighbourhood.
So I attended a peaceful ‘Neighbourhood Stroll’ earlier this week, joining my friend and her neighbours on a walk to see the area where the gravel mining would take place. I’ll sit with her at the City Council meeting, too, because not being a resident of the area doesn’t eliminate my right to be astounded at the lunacy of such a proposal. If approved it will allow back yards to be affected by noise, lights, and dust, and residential streets (one that also borders an elementary school) to rumble with up to fourteen gravel trucks per hour, six days a week for the next three-to-five years. Oh, and there’s a salmon-bearing creek that crosses the proposed quarry land, too.
My friend is a writer, just as I am. Our words may fall on deaf ears, but we still have the freedom and responsibility to write and speak them, and to support those whose lives will change if this proposal gains Council approval. I hope the power of the pen and the volume of voices will prevail.
Have you ever felt the need to speak up about a local ‘indignity’? What was the outcome?
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Update: Maple Ridge Council will discuss this application in a Committee of the Whole meeting on October 1st at 1:00 p.m., and the vote will be taken at the regular Council meeting on October 9th at 7:00 p.m. Local citizens maintain an information page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NoGravel and a dialogue on Twitter under the hashtag #nogravel.