Skip to main content

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

THE SIDEWINDER – Gone, but not totally forgotten

Maple Ridge, BC ... 1948

I thank God for the efforts of local museums where archival photographic postings of old barns, small town scenes and community halls help preserve memories of these things and other fast disappearing rural countryside features.

The poignant thing about many of these photos and documents is how deeply they emphasize the demise of Maple Ridge's as a rural, pastoral paradise.

The destructive nature of urban sprawl began decades ago, and is now fully evident as small family farms give way to single family small lot residential subdivisions, and the town core closely resembles any other town where city councils have lusted after growth.

The open fields, big old farmhouses, cow barns and small garden plots that once dominated Maple Ridge's rural landscape, have been supplanted by scattered, poorly planned and even more poorly serviced subdivisions.

The official community plan of the 1980s, which was supposed to safeguard against the loss of quality of life, has become the very instrument which has hastened the demise of broadly based community spirit and preservation of a desirable lifestyle.

Some folks think it's merely evidence that Maple Ridge is growing up. Indeed, Maple Ridge is now a city but I'm not sure that's a good thing. Is it our destiny to become a scattered collection of subdivisions separated only by those lands which are not suitable for development?

Not that many years ago there were dozens of small farms in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows which shipped milk to the Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association plant on the Lougheed Highway in Burnaby. It would be more familiar by its popular name, Dairyland.

Today, only a tiny fraction of those local milk producers remain in production, and the old milk cans in which the milk was shipped have become collectible antiques. Nowadays, huge tanker trucks collect the milk.

As the number of viable farms and other features which marked Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows as distinctively rural communities diminish, the array of wonderful nostalgic photographic images preserved in museums and private collections and our own memories will soon be all that remains of that comfortable past when it was possible to raise a family and grow all they needed to sustain a satisfactory lifestyle on a few acres or even a large city lot.


Much of the land has become far too valuable to be maintained as small farms.


Other economic factors such as prohibitively high municipal taxes frequently leave most rural property owners with very little choice but to take the money and leave behind a lifestyle, they will never be able to replicate on a small lot in the sprawling suburbs.

If you think I'm exaggerating when I refer to prohibitively high municipal taxes, you should understand that many people who live-in middle-class homes on four or five acres are probably paying more than five thousand dollars per year in property taxes. That amount quickly becomes unaffordable for retired people or those living on a fixed income.

Official community plans became compulsory in the 1970s and 1980s. These grossly inadequate documents were supposed to provide a guide for the orderly development of our community, but that noble experiment has been a colossal failure.

There has been a terrible lack of vision in the unfolding and ever-changing drama of the official community plan. I simply cannot believe that any municipal council would have approved of the plans if they could have foreseen the results.

The one certain thing is that no council has a mandate to rezone and subdivide every piece of land from the Golden Ears Mountains to the Fraser River.

Maybe we should slow down a little and allow time to capture more of what is disappearing before it's all gone.


SANDY Macdougall ... is a retired newspaper reporter. He was elected for three consecutive terms to Maple Ridge municipal council in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also ran for the Progressive Conservatives in Kim Campbell's ill-fated federal election campaign. He now makes his home in the BC interior community of Kelowna.


Popular posts from this blog

THE SIDEWINDER -- Just quit your constant damned whining and do something positive about it

  Living in a democracy is a wonderful thing, but it comes with responsibilities such as voting and being involved. When the dust settled on Saturdays (October 24 th ) BC election, less than two thirds of the eligible voters * took the time to vote - but the loudest bitchers will probably be among the more than one third of voters who sat on their asses and complained about how all politicians are crooks, etc. How many of you constant whiners have ever done anything close to becoming involved; or do you just like sniveling to hear your own voice? Are you one the arseholes who likes to take advantage of everything our democracy has to offer, without ever contributing anything? And I don't want to listen to your crap about paying taxes, blah, blah, blah. There's more to making democracy work than simply voting and then sitting back and let others carry the ball for you. Too many people seem unwilling to get involved - and follow-up - to make sure elected po

The stats clearly demonstrate the need for professional and impartial advice at the time of purchase, renewal, and refinancing of mortgages

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION : Canadian Mortgage Trends   Canadians need guidance with their mortgages ... t hat’s the takeaway from a national survey released this week by, which found half of Canadians aren’t aware of the mortgage options available to them. Not only that, but Canadians are lacking in some other basic mortgage trivia, with an astounding 9 out of 10 respondents not knowing that mortgage interest is charged semi-annually: 28% think interest is compounded monthly; 17% think it’s bi-weekly; 17% think it’s annually; 28% just have no idea. Should we be concerned? Dustan Woodhouse, President of Mortgage Architects, and a former active broker who has written multiple educational mortgage books, thinks so. “ Sounds about right. We know about what we pay attention to, i.e., The Kardashians ,” he wrote to CMT. “ The material concern in this is how easy it makes it for the government to over-regulate the industry, with c

AARON GUNN -- He is, at his core, an ideologue, meaning the facts of any particular issue don’t actually matter

Ben Isitt - City Councillor and Regional Director Victoria City Council and its resident-genius Ben Isitt is back with another dumb idea. Introducing a motion to ban the horse-drawn carriages that have coloured Victoria’s downtown streets for decades, calling them “an outdated mode of transportation”. Are you serious?   No one is actually commuting by horse and carriage. They are here for tourists and residents alike to interact with world-class animals and discover the magic and history of our provincial capital. It’s part of what gives Victoria its charm. And the truth is these horses are treated better than anywhere else in the world. They probably live better lives than many British Columbians.   And talk to anyone who works with these horses and they’ll all tell you the exact same thing: this is what the horses love to do. This is what they were bred for and trained for. This is what gives their lives purpose and meaning. But maybe we shouldn’t be su


Show more