The Tyee

Maple Ridge tilts toward Liberals

Rising incomes push Frasier North ridings to the right: Port Moody-Westwood and Maple Ridge-Mission

By: By Will McMartin, 28 April 2005,

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Port Moody-Westwood and Maple Ridge-Mission, two of 10 seats in Battleground BC’s Fraser North region, are considered closer to returning Liberal MLAs on May 17. The former riding has shifted from ‘likely’ to ‘solid,’ while the latter moves from ‘up-for-grabs’ to ‘likely.’

PORT MOODY-WESTWOOD elected Christy Clark in 2001 with a whopping 74.6% of valid votes cast. The popular MLA, who served as minister of education before moving to the children and family development portfolio, finished more than 12,000 votes ahead of her NDP opponent. She opted for retirement rather than seek re-election to a third legislative term, but few political observers expect her to remain on the sidelines for long.

The riding has the highest average household income, $70,236 per year, in the Fraser North region, and at 78% has the second-highest level of home-ownership. (See April 27 column for tables.)

Iain Black is the Liberal newcomer who will succeed Clark.

A Port Moody city councillor, Karen Rockwell, is wearing the NDP colours in an uphill battle.

MAPLE RIDGE-MISSION was won in 2001 by Randy Hawes, a Liberal. He garnered 56.7% of the vote, and held a 8,200-vote margin over his NDP opponent.

The district became a single-member seat (it formerly had been part of the Dewdney riding) in 1991. Then known as Mission-Kent, it returned Dennis Streifel, a New Democrat who captured 44.8% of the vote. Streifel won re-election in 1996 with a near-identical 44.2%, served ingloriously as minister of human resources before taking on the undemanding fisheries portfolio, and did not seek re-election in 2001 when the district received its present name.

Maple Ridge-Mission tops other Fraser North ridings in terms of home ownership. (See April 27 column.) And at 80%, the district stands out as having the ninth-highest rate of owner-occupied dwellings amongst B.C.’s 79 electoral districts. (See April 9 column.)

Perhaps more interesting is the riding’s rising level of average household income. In 1991, Mission-Kent ranked sixth out of the seven Fraser Valley districts; in 2001, it was second. (See table below.)

Hawes, a former mayor of the city of Mission, has maintained a relatively-low profile in the Legislative Assembly since his election as MLA four years ago but is likely to return to Victoria.

The NDP candidate is Jenny Stevens, a Mission city councillor.

Table — Maple Ridge-Mission average household income, compared to other Fraser Valley ridings

  • Ft Langley-Aldergrove — $70,886
  • Maple Ridge-Mission — $62,265
  • Langley — $60,255
  • Abbotsford-Mt Lehman — $55,435
  • Chilliwack-Sumas — $56,716
  • Chilliwack-Kent — $51,495
  • Abbotsford-Clayburn — $51,364

Check here daily for Battleground BC, Will McMartin’s voting predictions and analysis, exclusive to The Tyee. You can reach him with tips, insights and info at  [Tyee]