Jaime Seip at the weekend rally. (THE NEWS/files) Jaime Seip at the weekend rally. (THE NEWS/files)

600 volunteers sign up to recall Maple Ridge MLAs over housing problems

Organizer urges province to reconsider position on Burnett modulars

The recall campaign targeting Maple Ridge MLAs Lisa Beare and Bob D’Eith has 600 volunteers, and other resources are also being offered.

Jamie Seip, the organizer, said while the issue in Maple Ridge is about low-barrier modular housing for the homeless on Burnett Street, political opponents of the B.C. NDP are joining the ranks of his group, B.C. Communities United, because they see a chance to bring down the government.

The NDP has 41 seats and the Green Party three, for a combined 44. The B.C. Liberal party has 42, so a successful recall campaign could threaten the NDP’s slim hold on government.

Seip said he needed a minimum of 150 volunteers to start the recall campaigns, and went into Sunday’s Rally for Ridge with a goal of signing up 300 people. He said he has almost double that.

There are about 14,000 names on a petition of people who oppose the Burnett Street site for modular housing, he added.

“Either the NDP is going to start to listen to the 10,000-plus people who signed our petition, or they are going to lose their jobs.”

The recall process could start in about 30 days, Seip said.

If the government will sit down with Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden and council to re-evaluate its position on the Burnett Street site, he said B.C. Communities United will not proceed with the recall.

“We’re not here to bring down the government. We are here to be heard,” said Seip, president of B.C. Communities United.

“Our MLAs are not listening to us. They are listening to their party.”

Seip said once the recall process begins, he will not stop it. Volunteers will have 60 days to collect the signatures of more than 40 per cent of the eligible voters in each riding.

“If we start the process, we’re a very motivated group, and we want to be the first successful group to do it.”

His group is being advised by people who have run recall campaigns in the past.

The chief electoral officer has approved 26 such petitions since the Recall and Initiative Act came into force in 1995.

Six were returned to Elections B.C. for verification. Of the six, five did not have enough valid signatures, and one was halted during the verification process because the member resigned.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare said people have a democratic right to pursue a recall.

She was at Earth Day in Maple Ridge on Saturday and said numerous people told her they support the Burnett Street modular housing.

“The people of Maple Ridge are tired of this crisis,” she said, adding they want a solution and the government is offering one.

“People here are compassionate and caring and want to help people in need.”

She added the government is willing to sit down with council, and needs to in order to plan a permanent location for a shelter, so the province can “get moving” on planned seniors housing for the Burnett site.

“We can sit down any time,” Beare said.

“I’m focused on working for the citizens of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, and that’s what I’ll continue to focus on.”


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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