Candidate Responses

On behalf of the Maple Ridge Historical Society, the following questions were sent to all candidates in the 2022 municipal election for mayor and council.

1. In what way do you see our community history contributing to the future growth and development of Maple Ridge?

2. How can our local government, with increasing demands on their core services budget, maintain and grow heritage and cultural programs in our community?

3. Please describe your experience and support for the Maple Ridge Museum and local heritage.


Candidate Responses (in order received)


Craig Speirs

1. Cultural assets like museums and archives are critical for economic growth as we try to flesh out our cultural tourism strategy. People love to explore more than our physical environment, they also want to experience our history that helped shape our landscape and our people. We have an incredible history that is difficult to tell because of our lack of facilities that would allow us to tell it. But of course it’s more than tourism because we can’t even tell our residents who we are and where we come from. The Commission and the Society and its employees do a very good job with what they have to work with. I can only imagine what they could do with a modern museum and archives. The investment would more than any for itself.

2. Investments in Heritage and Cultural assets (HC) and programs can more than pay for themselves and can actually create a synergy if combined with other public and private assets like restaurants, banquet facilities meeting rooms, educational facilities, hotels, parks, shopping and government services. HC assets actually do better when embedded with a variety of uses.

3. I was Chair of the Heritage Commission when not elected and while elected campaigned and voted for a new museum, archive and hotel. You have my ❤!


Rajinder Chinna

1. History is important as we learn our roots and should never forget where we have come from. It guides us in making more informed decisions for the future, for our children for society as a whole.

2. Continued funding is mandatory to maintain future heritage and cultural programs.

3. Maple Ridge has a strong heritage that needs to be maintained through funding from local and provincial bodies.


Jacques Blackstone

1. Impossible to answer this question

2. By listening to organizations as yourself making presentations to bring this awareness to the city. Then hold a public referendum and see what the people of Maple Ridge have to say, as this is for the people, and not the ideology of a sitting mayor

3. Being honest, none. Has never been part of my life


Leah Pillet

1. I believe people come here for the small town feel, easy access to nature and to leave the bustle of the big city. I would like to see those features preserved as we move forward into the future. I understand there is growth proposed for the Haney area and I would really like to see that done in a way that preserves these features and highlights our history. With the right approach we could create a unique experience for people living and visiting. I would like to increase tourism in Maple Ridge and the museum would be an important part of that process. There is no reason that we cannot have the same thing as Fort Langley here in Maple Ridge with featuring our history and supporting shopping and entertainment. I live in Hammond and love the history of this area too. I would like to see more support for preserving the historical nature of this area of Maple Ridge. Times are changing fast and if we dont act soon, before we know it, the face of Maple Ridge will change and we will no longer have these features to look on and remember our roots.

2. As someone that values preserving our history and passing it on, I look forward to supporting initiatives of the museum to make sure this is done. I don’t believe we are spending money as accurately as possible in Maple Ridge and I would like to see a detailed breakdown of our current budget to make sure we are supporting the right programs. For example, Maple Ridge spent $2.3 million on a ‘117th street improvement’ that no one wanted and devalued property. That money could have been better spent supporting you or programs like ARMS. I would love to hear personally from you what you feel your needs are and what you envision receiving from the city so you can be the best you can be. I would also like to see more effort done to preserve historical landmarks and more public awareness made of such features. I grew up in Cranbrook and worked at Fort Steele, a historical site for the RCMP and early settlement in the Kootenays. There were lots of great programs there that highlighted living in that time period and the youth of Maple Ridge will benefit from having access to that knowledge too. I have noticed your train car has a tarp on it – does it have a leak? And is that something the city could help with?

3. I moved here 19 years ago and raised a family here. I read a little green book that highlighted the local history and I loved it ! I cant remember the name at the moment but it was a great book for newcomers to understand what makes this city so unique. I visited the museum and tried to organize extended youth educational programs over the years though my homeschool programs but was never able to do so for some reason. I have probably visited every museum in 100 miles of Maple Ridge! Pitt Meadows, Langley, Stave Dam, Squamish train museum, Port Moody and so many more. I am a history nerd and so support any initiatives that preserve our heritage and help foster a love of the past in our youth. I enjoyed the walking tour of Maple Ridge and the tour of the cemetery highlighting important figures in the building of this community. Thank you for your continued work to preserve our history. I look forward to working with you and supporting your work once on council.


Darleen Bernard

1. Right now the biggest way community history has committed to our future development is by identifying safe living areas. Ones in which the development are actually contributing our survival. More specifically areas that are safe from natural destruction. We are actually expanding our existence based on areas that were discovered by those who came before us.

2. I think governments have to identify those cultures that hold heritage and cultural status and create affordable funds to continue to support those programs.

3. I will continue to support Maple Ridge Museum. Unfortunately I have not been inside the museum. I have had a picnic on the beautiful grounds though and they should not be touched.


Corisa Bell

1. History is something I take very seriously and honour deeply. I feel very strongly it should be reflected in all planning of city development. I’d like to provide even more opportunities for MRM to give feedback to influence neighbourhood and community development. I do plan on initiating neighbourhood captains for each area in order to have a continual flow of communications and input when developments are going into their neighbourhoods. I’m very passionate about engagement and have many ideas. I’m open to ideas as well!

2. Empower neighbourhoods to work together to create a cultural identity within their areas. Inspire community to be involved with organizing/activities once this identity is established. Speak with developers to have them a part of these conversations so they can build heritage and cultural buildings/amenities into their projects. I’ve spoken to many who would be interested. We have many wonderful cultural associations and groups that are dedicated to honouring our heritage, we should bring these groups together alongside these neighbourhoods to design and create a community essence, programming and ongoing engagement.

3. When I was on Council you invited me for a bus tour to the Museum of North Vancouver. I wanted to learn the value of correct archiving as I know it’s something top of mind. I really enjoyed our time together! I support the conversations that you brought to my attention regarding the proper investments needed to preserve our history. Local heritage, sharing knowledge, and teaching history are all things I personally value. I have scribed on my back, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children” A Native American proverb that I’ve guide my life through the lens of. As a 6th generation resident, I respect our history. As Mayor I will start our council meetings in a good way, acknowledging the shared territories of the Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations.


Robert E Masse

1. Our future should be informed and shaped with reference to our past. Culture is an always evolving process, in a rapidly growing area many are unaware of our past.

2. Cultural programs needn’t be cost prohibitive, we have quite a few resources already, such as the Memorial bandstand park. Recognizing and involving our First Nations neighbors should be integral to the process. There are many Provincial and Federal grants and initiatives we can also avail ourselves of.

3. I have served one full Council term as liaison to the Heritage Committee. I also have formal studies in Cultural and First Nations of BC Anthropology.


Ahmed Yousef

1. In retaining our historic building characteristics in historic neighbourhood such as Hammond and Haney. Also, in ensuring that learn from the past where to build and where not to build.

2. By partnering with heritage and cultural organizations, other levels of government, and possibly the private sector to promote and grow existing cultural programs and to introduce new ones.

3. I have visited the Museum with my family and have advocated for the Museum being in a bigger more modern building that can truly house and showcase all the items that are not being currently displayed. The same location should also house the Museum’s archives.


Onyeka Dozie

1. The Community history like any history generally points the people to the start of the journey of life, the direction and attained/failed destination. It helps to shape the present for the attainment of the desired future.

2. The local government can maintain and grow cultural programs by supporting individuals and organisations like yours in any possible way.

3. I will support every reasonable effort that is made towards the continued recording and maintenance of the community’s historical heritage.


Jenny Tan

1. Understanding our history helps us understand how to shape our path forward. It helps us recognise the many groups who have contributed to us reaching where we are today, such as the Kanakas and the Katzie and Kwantlen Nations. Knowing our history gives us a sense of rootedness.

2. We need to prioritise growing our heritage and cultural programs. The budget reflects our priorities. If we continue to invest in our heritage, we will develop a community with a nuanced understanding of our past. We can also continue to partner with senior levels of government who provide funding for heritage and cultural programs.

3. I appreciate the extensive programming of the Maple Ridge Museum, from its mobile exhibits at community events to walking tours to its diverse exhibits. I look forward to supporting all reasonable efforts to increase our community’s cultural and historical awareness.


Rebecca Stiles

1. I feel strongly that history must play a significant role in guiding our future area plans. It is important that our identity and what makes Maple Ridge unique is preserved and represented in our future plans. This should include our indigenous communities, our agricultural heritage and other identities that have shaped our history as a community.

2. It is my understanding that our federal and provincial governments support funding opportunities in the area of culture and heritage. As a councillor, it would be part of my commitment to you to build strong relationships with those levels of government and support every opportunity to take advantage of funding for culture and heritage protection and growth. Within the master parks, recreation and cultural plan, the community has identified priorities for the community and I will work to deliver the contents of the plan.

3. I have had the opportunity to live in a number of communities, but my husband and I chose Maple Ridge to raise our family, in part due to its strong roots to its history and the way it has protected historical areas within the area plans and Official Community Plan in general. While I have not participated in the work done by the Heritage committee, I will commit to supporting such committees and ensure they are preserved as respected portals of information to council decisions.


Sunny Schiller 

1. Many neighbourhoods in Maple Ridge represent different aspects of our community’s history, such as Haney, Hammond, Websters Corners. I believe that preserving and sharing stories of our history has many lessons to teach current and future residents. I think that the agricultural history in our community is unique and is something to be celebrated and shared.

2. Local government can look for opportunities to participate in grant projects provided by the provincial and federal government, and by organizations that specifically support heritage and culture programming. By making use of the knowledge and historical items that exist in the City our residents can learn about local history and culture without incurring a lot of expense.

3. I learned a lot about Maple Ridge heritage during my time supporting the Community Heritage Commission at the City of Maple Ridge. I think we have a very interesting history and I enjoy continuing to learn about different aspects of our heritage, especially related to east Maple Ridge.