News

Candidate creates election website for Maple Ridge

The civic election takes place Nov. 15, 2014. - The News/Files
The civic election takes place Nov. 15, 2014.
— image credit: The News/Files

Morgan Jensen wants a seat on Maple Ridge council, but he’s also got another goal which he says is more important.

The home renovation contractor wants more people to vote this Nov. 15, when the council for the District of Maple Ridge will be chosen for the next four years.

“I’m planning on running for council. I just haven’t made an official announcement yet,” he said Tuesday.

But he has launched a website – votemapleridge.org – to try to raise some interest in the voting public.

Jensen wants to list all candidates for mayor and council and provide their social media links so that people are just a click away from the candidates and their platforms.

Votemapleridge.org will be “as non-political as possible, with only information and links, no campaigning and no politics.

“I would like to double the voter turnout,” he says, although he knows that won’t happen this year.

In the 2011 election, only a quarter of eligible voters showed up.

Mayor Ernie Daykin was elected with 7,400 votes, while Cheryl Ashlie drew the most number of votes as councillor, with 4,949.

“That’s way less than 10 per cent of the population.”

So far, the website lists all four candidates for mayor – Ernie Daykin, Graham Mowatt, Mike Morden and Tyler Shymkiw – and six council candidates.

There’s no talk of a slate forming, of a group of like-minded candidates running for office.

“I’m running as an individual. I don’t support one or the other any of the people on there,” Jensen said.

“This is going to be for everyone. If 40 people run, I’ll put links to all the candidates.”

It’s Jensen’s first time seeking a council seat. He has ran four times for school board, unsuccessfully.

He’d like to see the website stay up after the election, similar to Surrey’s Cityspeaks website, which allows people to air their thoughts. But he realizes the website won’t hurt his election chances, either.

“I’m doing this because it’s needed and it’s important. Whether or not I get elected, doesn’t really matter.”

Like every other candidate, Jensen wants to address Maple Ridge’s crime and homelessness and says the downtown should continue to grow and densify and become gentrified. That will attract more people to the town centre because it’s a nice place to go and will push out the criminal element.

“But we’re a long way from that.”

Many lots sit empty.

But he’s got new ideas as well.

Jensen doubts a major Coquitlam Centre-type mall will be built in the Albion flats at 105th Avenue and Lougheed Highway.

“I just don’t think we’re going to get a major retail [mall] down there. I think that ship has sailed.”

Mall developer Smart Centres is still negotiating a land swap with the District of Maple Ridge to allow a mall to be built.

Jensen wants the land on the east side of 105th Ave. to be focused on community use, and to become a hub, similar to what’s already envisaged by district planning.

Jensen, though, is thinking big.

“I would like to see the Albion flats become more community use. I would love to see a stadium. I’d love to see an Olympic-sized swimming pool facility with a wave pool. It’s a geographic centre of Maple Ridge.”

He’d also like to see the district sell its downtown property and its public works yard on Dewdney Trunk Road and 239th Street and use the proceeds to build a new municipal hall and public works yard in Albion flats. The public works yard easily could be sold for single family home developments.

Doing so would free up property in the downtown so Maple Ridge could finally get its hotel.

“This is a long-term vision. We have to think about the future.”

Developing Albion flats won’t hurt the growth of downtown, he adds, pointing out that by car, Albion flats is only three or four minutes away.

Instead, the growth of both go hand in hand.

Such development would be costed out and paid for, he added.

“I guess I just think we need some exciting vision, some big thinking,” and then scale back from there.

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