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MAPLE RIDGE PITT MEADOWS

OUTLOOK

Business. Development. Tourism. Education. Health. Lifestyle. Those are the guiding principles behind Outlook Magazine, a progress report about the vitality of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. From the area’s prosperous agricultural industry, to residential and commercial and industrial development, to capital infrastructure improvements and incentives to the restoration and rebirth of historical neighborhoods, all are key to continued growth of both communities. In the second edition of Outlook, The News examines the area’s economic energy. Serving Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows since 1978

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Maple Ridge has some economic drivers By Phil Melnychuk

It’s a strategy that Maple Ridge’s economic initiatives program follows as it tries to drum up business and draw companies and their jobs to this part of the Fraser Valley. According to Sandy Blue, Manager of the department, leaders and those in positions similar to hers should have some basic knowledge about how to keep an economic engine humming. Blue’s list is based on the International Economic Development Council and says those in charge should know the economic strengths and weaknesses of their area. They should also know where Maple Ridge fits with the rest of Metro Vancouver, as well as Maple Ridge’s visions and goals. Know the local regulations and local business needs – and you

should have the basics for plotting an economic plan, she told the District of Maple Ridge during an October meeting. “You call it investment readiness. If the environment is right and people feel welcome and they see the opportunity, they will come,” Blue added later. To spur growth, an area needs three economic drivers: an airport, a hospital and post-secondary institutes. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows has two of the three and is working on the third. The Pitt Meadows Regional Airport and Ridge Meadows Hospital are already in place, while discussions are underway with Kwantlen, SFU and University of the Fraser Valley about offering courses in shared classroom space provided by

businessSTART, Maple Ridge’s new business lab. In September, BCIT began offering marketing courses in that space. Maple Ridge has already done much of the ground work for an economic strategy. Lion’s Gate Consulting and Peak Solutions, in 2006, identified four sectors – technology, manufacturing, tourism and education – as economic pillars.

You call it investment readiness. If the environment is right and people feel welcome and they see the opportunity, they will come.

I

f you want to grow your economy, you have to know yourself, figure out what you can offer, then create a plan to make the jobs and let the prosperity happen.

Those sectors are still valid today, Blue told council. Maple Ridge has also joined in a regional entity created in 2009, called Invest North Fraser, in which Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Mission market their assets cooperatively. When the three municipalities

Pitt Meadows Regional Airport. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan. are combined, the total population hits 139,000, with a median annual household income of $72,000, a median age of 38, with a total of 47,000 jobs. A single entity creates a larger talent pool, more efficiencies and makes the area that much more attractive with all assets combined. The region was the first in the province to take part in the provincial government’s B.C. Jobs Plan, announced in 2011. That was a process which sought to identify regional economic potential and to remove roadblocks to that, while finding ways to kickstart new business.

So far, the B.C. Jobs Plan has identified an interpretive forest in Mission, a tourism-recreation corridor using the area’s forests and mountains, a business park and international education centre at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, and an agricultural distribution hub as possible sources of new jobs. Maple Ridge is working with Kwantlen Polytechnic to open a working farm school, although there’s no definite date for that. A North Fraser Education Task Force, in the fall of 2013, will look at ways of operating a school that incorporates satellite operations of several universities.

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Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District ‘a leader in education’ By Neil Corbett

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here are no more A, B and C+ letter grades assigned to elementary students in Maple Ridge, and that’s just one example of how willing local educators are to embrace change. Another choice is the Environmental School, attended by some 80 students in a single-room outdoor school, for all students from Kindergarten to Grade 7. “It’s about learning in place, so they don’t have a school, they have a yurt,” noted Unwin. A yurt is a portable tent-like structure with a solid frame, named after the portable houses used by nomads in Central Asia. This project is based on providing an ecological education through activities and inqui-

Parents in the community will find more choices for their students than they were offered when going to school.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district prides itself on being progressive. So, when research showed that letter grades may actually prove to demotivate students, the local board gave elementary teachers the option of dropping traditional grading in favour of a three-way conference between parents, students and teachers. “We’re trying to take the lead,” said district superintendent Jan Unwin. That initiative, new this year, is one of the many innovations. Parents in the community will find more choices for their students than they were offered when going to school. The Cyberschool Program at Alouette elementary sees students spend about half of their study time in school, and about half at home on the internet. It provides more flexibility and choice in education for motivated students, who can work at their own speed, but still have the ability to get help from their teacher or interact with classmates.

ry that engage the students mind and body. The Wheelhouse Program is new this year, for students in Grades 6 and 7, and it will adopt many of the latest innovations

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Schools are leading the way in education. in education, along with an ethos that sees students get more involved in their community. They have Traveling Tuesdays, which offer students regular opportunities to connect with their community. The Wheelhouse will feature an annual Big Idea, and for this first year that is, “What makes a good global citizen?” The Literacy iPod Program is an expanding program that allows children to use devices and literacy applications to improve their reading and writing. Thomas Haney Secondary opened as a self-directed learning school 20 years ago.

Students have more choice to decide what they will study, and when. Despite its popularity and the success of its students, the school remains one of only two self-directed high schools in the province. These are just some of the newer and more high-profile programs offered in the district. They are combined with more established programs, such as French immersion, academies for hockey, soccer, equestrian and arts, digital arts, the International Baccalaureate program, and classrooms that offer the Montessori teaching method to offer parents an array of choices within the public school system.

Hammond mill, a proud and long history in community By Kevin Gillies

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espite the downturn in the forest industry the past five years or so, Hammond Mill continues to produce the largest amount of cedar products in the world. production. Interfor says the Western Red Cedar produced at Hammond Mill is renowned for its beauty and texture of its grain and its mellow, rich color. The company says the red cedar is ideally suited to both indoor and outdoor projects, with natural oils that help the wood resist decay and damage. And the company says builders choose red cedar because it is stable, lightweight and easy to fin-

The mill at Port Hammond has been there more than a century and keeps a lot of local people in work. “We have a long history with this community, a very proud history. The mill’s been in the community for 102 years,” says mill owner Interfor’s Karen Brandt, adding, “There’s 165 people who work there.” The mill produces about 15 per cent of the world’s building cedar. “This is also the world’s largest western red cedar mill,” Brandt says. “We ship our products to Europe seven per cent, North America is 82, but we ship to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea, from that mill.” Brandt says that almost $8 million in capital investment has been put into the mill by Interfor in the last four years or so to modernize equipment and streamline

The mill produces about 15 per cent of the world’s building cedar. ish, as well as a natural insulator. Homes built with cedar siding, paneling or ceilings remain cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. “We actually gave a fantastic

presentation last year to the City of Maple Ridge,” says Brandt, adding Interfor helped celebrate the 130-year anniversary of Port Hammond. According to local historians, the mill has been an integral part of the life of Hammond since 1910 and was originally called the Bailey Lumber Company. But by 1912 the mill became known as the Port Hammond Lumber Company, and by 1916 it was the Hammond Cedar Mill. In 1946 B.C. Forest Products took over the mill. Last year workers at the mill were sent home early after a saw spark set sawdust and two saw rooms on fire. Mill employees tried attacking the fire but were overtaken by smoke and had to evacuate. Nobody was hurt in the blaze that kept firefighters at the scene for four hours. But mill operations

Always a busy day for workers at Hammond Mill. were quickly back up to normal levels. Through the century Hammond Mill has continued to play a vital role in the North Fraser economy.

Brandt says, adding that, when running at peak production can employ as many as 250 people. “It’s a pretty impressive mill,” she adds.

MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2013 5


businessStart helps with the basics, if you’re ready to launch By Phil Melnychuk

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he first thought for many people who start their own business is to get a licence, so they’ll be in the good books with the bylaws department. But there’s a list of nine other things that have to be done first, if that business is going to survive. At the newly opened businessSTART centre in the municipal centre in downtown Maple Ridge, entrepreneurs can find most of what they need to know before they take the plunge. The centre opened Oct. 22 and offers business counselling, seminars, webinars, information kits, and networking to help people do their homework before they offer their product or service to the marketplace. A checklist provided by Small Business B.C. puts it in black and white. Before a licence is sought, the business idea must first be evaluated. Is the idea feasible and will it make money? Then market research is needed to see whether there is a demand for a product and what is the competition. Financing has to be put in place, a business strategy, name, website and structure, payroll and taxes must all be considered

before a licence is taken out. Maple Ridge’s Economic Development Manager Sandy Blue said the district wants to double the number of local jobs to a total of 6,000, within a decade. The businessStart centre will help do that by helping people avoid the pitfalls that can sink a business before it begins. While at the businessSTART centre, business owners can also connect with Small Business B.C., the B.C. Technology Industry Association Centre for Growth and Invest North Fraser, to name a few. “This is the starting place. This is the place where everything comes together,” Blue said at the opening. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing was also at the opening. “As a former business owner, I understand how businesses contribute toward the development of a community. As a current member of the strong economy committee, I advocate for the people of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.” He said his government

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has contributed funding to tourism, and advanced education. Minister of State for Tourism and Small Business Naomi Yamamoto, who was at the ribbon cutting, said the government is trying to do its part. Any government contract worth less than $250,000 will now only require a two-page application process. The government also wants to increase, by 20 per cent, the amount of contracts it awards to small businesses. Yamamoto told local politicians that Maple Ridge “gets it,” and values the role of small businesses. She pointed out that 98 per cent of all the business in B.C. is small business and that 82 per cent of those busi-

nesses have six or fewer employees. She used to run her own business in North Vancouver, “so I do know what it takes to be a small business owner.” The businessSTART website says Maple Ridge has “some of the most affordable land in the Lower Mainland and a forecast doubling of population and jobs (132,000 and 48,000), respectively. “That’s great news for entrepreneurs wanting to start a business, and for existing businesses wanting to grow.” • http://www.businessstart.ca/ • http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca/products-and-services/free-resources/starting-your-business-checklist

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Ridge Meadows Recycling, moving to a zero waste society

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Richard Niesman with Recyclable Plastic at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan.

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he march to zero waste continues, and the progress is measured by the people of the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society.

The organization is now in its 41st year, still collecting recyclables at curbside. The number of items that it can recycle continues to increase. In recent times, cooking oil and styrofoam were added as recyclable products. More are on the horizon. Recycling society Executive Director Kim Day, who has been with the organization for 18 years, said there are two huge changes coming up in recycling. One is the addition of Multi Material British Columbia (MMBC), a producer organization responsible for reducing the amount of product packaging entering the waste stream. Many municipalities have been reluctant to accept MMBC’s initial recycling plans and proposals, but Day said the new organization could eventually be a player or even a partner in recycling locally. “This is about extended producer responsibility, and we think it will be a good thing.”

36 per cent of household garbage is organic waste.

She said one anticipated outcome from the creation of MMBC is growth in the number of end markets for recyclable products. Another is the elimination of certain waste products. For example, packaging that combines both foil and cardboard is difficult to recycle. With the manufacturer of that packaging now responsible for its end of life, perhaps they will consider easier alternatives. Another major change coming in recycling will arrive in 2015, as the Metro Van-

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Reg Suddaby, Plant Supervisor at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, lifts a plastic bale that is ready to ship. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan. couver Regional District asks communities partnered in waste management, including Maple Ridge, to separate food waste and other organics to be composted from the waste stream. Day noted that some 36 per cent of household garbage is organic waste, so eliminating that from the landfill will have a significant effect. “That will definitely move us toward zero waste,” she said. The Ridge Meadows Recycling Society has a $3 million annual budget, and much of it is covered by the sale of recyclable products. It employs 64 people, including 23 adults with special needs.

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Chances Gaming Centre – here for the community By Robert Prince

Nobody could be happier about the state of affairs than General Manager Andy LaCroix, who takes on the challenge of the new facility with enthusiasm for both the centre and the community. “This facility is all about community,” LaCroix says. “The question we keep asking is, ‘How can we best serve the community?’” Which begs another question: What can the community expect now that Chances is finally open. LaCroix says the new centre has more of everything that the old centre had, plus a lot of new opportunities that the 224 Street gaming centre simply couldn’t offer. Naturally, the slot machines and bingo hall will be big attractions for patrons, but it’s all the extras that LaCroix and his team plan to

offer that will truly make Chances a key part of the community in years to come. For instance, the new restaurant – the Well – has started up with a limited menu that serves appetizers, salads and soups, sandwiches and burgers, plus a range of dinner entrées that cover a variety of eating preferences, including vegetarian, gluten free and lactose free. In the months to come, LaCroix says the menu will grow, as the staff gets comfortable with the volume of customers, the routines of the centre, and the current menu itself. Naturally, The Well is there to serve the people who are gaming, says LaCroix, but it’s also a place where a couple or friends can go

for a nice evening out, or perhaps lunch. The fireplace in the center of the room provides ambiance, and depending on the night, there’s a good chance entertainment will be provided in the great room next door. And if it’s a nice day, the outdoor patios will be open for al fresco dining. Live entertainment will be a big part of the fun at Chances, says LaCroix. The opening acts on Oct. 23 – Atlantic Crossing and the Dueling Pianos – were just the beginning.

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he lights are pulsing, the bells are chiming, the showgirls and opening acts have come and gone, and now the slot machines and bingo tables are in full operation as the new Chances Gaming Centre is finally open in downtown Maple Ridge.

We built these spaces for the community to use.

The general manager says there will be marquee entertainment most Friday and Saturday nights, plus comedy bookings, karaoke, community shows, and more. “Our goal is to build engagement with the community, and we feel that offering regular entertainment is one way to attract people to our facility, whether they’re

VIPs were greeted on October 23, 2013 at the grand opening of Chances in Maple Ridge. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan. gaming or not.” “We’re making contacts now, and scheduling events as they come up. We’re going to be trying different things, like wine tasting events, makeover nights, and seasonally-themed events. Some events will be ticketed, but others won’t.” LaCroix says the community itself is going to have plenty of opportunities to book the spaces for events and activities, and with the space coming at no charge for community groups, he expects it will be well used. The entertainment space, and the boardroom upstairs are key components to ensuring the community finds value in Chances, says LaCroix. Both will be available free to organizations that need event or meeting space. The room downstairs can hold 100

comfortably, and the boardroom can hold up to 44. “We built these spaces for the community to use,” he adds. “They’ll be fully accessible.” In addition to providing space, LaCroix points out that Chances and its parent company, the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., want to support the community in other ways – primarily by building partnerships with community groups and providing sponsorships for community events. A lot of that work is already being done, but Chances General Manager is certain there is a lot more to come as people come to know the new facility better. “Ultimately,” he says, “the key message is we’re a part of the downtown core and the community, and we’re here for the community.”

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Downtown Maple Ridge BIA – quietly making things happen By Robert Prince

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here’s not a lot of hoopla surrounding the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association, despite six years of success stories in the core area. For Ineke Boekhorst, who took on the task of Executive Director in April of 2007, the BIA is not about accolades. Rather, it’s about quietly getting things done to better opportunities for local businesses. “We’re a vehicle for making things happen,” says Boekhorst. “Whether it’s helping businesses and building owners improve the facades of the stores, or providing courtesy umbrellas to shoppers on a rainy day, the goal is always to improve business in the downtown core.” Plenty has been done – some of it visible, but much of it not so obvious. Improved security and safety in the core has been a big priority since Day 1, and as a consequence the overall amount of crime in the area has dropped significantly, says Boekhorst. A downtown security company, run in conjunction with the district, and an anti-graffiti program give shop owners a chance to keep their stores looking good, and are just two of the reasons for improvements when it comes to safety and security.

Boekhorst points to a façade improvement program as a major component of the BIA’s success story over the past few years. Owners accessing matching grants to help improve their storefronts have really spruced the area up. The value of those improvements since the façade program began is more than $6 million, with about 40 buildings having benefited. The façade improvement program is one of the key reasons building owners have started to pay attention to the BIA, says its Executive Director. “We have a lot more interaction with them than we ever had before because there’s free money at stake. They call us now to find out what’s going on.” For those interested, she says with a grin, grant applications for 2014 have to be in by March 31, 2014. It’s not all building fronts, though. A good part of the BIA’s focus in past years has been events and marketing ideas designed to draw people to the core’s businesses. Marketing will continue to be a major focus, especially

when the position of Marketing Coordinator is filled. “We’ve been trying to find the right person since July,” says Boekhorst. “We have people applying who know the community, but have no marketing experience, or people with marketing experience who are from North Vancouver. We want someone with both.” The frustration is rooted in the fact that there are plenty of projects on the go, and waiting in the wings, that need the extra set of hands. Projects like the Concert in the Park luncheon series, the summer markets and the Christmas market, as well as partnerships with festivals and other events like last month’s Zombie Walk, are activities that give people reasons to come shop downtown. Boekhorst says the BIA is always working with groups on new ideas. For instance, it expects to be part of a shopping extravaganza at the end of November that is being organized. “We want to sell people on the idea that they don’t have to travel great distances to get the same great deals as elsewhere. “We’ll also continue to work with tourism, and the district, and anyone else who wants to improve business downtown, and we’ll contin-

Executive Director of the BIA Ineke Boekhorst. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan. ue selling people on the idea of local shopping. “Our focus in 2013 was on local residents, but in 2014 we’re going to go more regional with our marketing programs in an effort to draw people to Maple Ridge.” Much of what is done, says Boekhorst, is done in a simple and cost-effective way. The courtesy umbrella program was one such opportunity, and it created quite the buzz amongst downtown shoppers, who were delighted to find they could borrow one of the bright yellow umbrellas when the needed it. Another new program is geocaching – which has families combing the province using GPS coordinates to hunt “treasures.” There are currently three in the downtown core, and Boekhorst says the BIA is churning over ways to turn Maple Ridge’s downtown into the geocache capital of B.C. “Why not? We’ve done so many things – some successful and some not – but we’re always going to look for new projects because that’s what makes business successful.”

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By the fiscal year end, March 31, the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation is hoping to raise $518,145 to purchase equipment for patient care. An electrocardiogram machine (ECG) takes an electrical picture of the heart and is used for all kinds of cardiac diagnosis. Most importantly, says Cassi Gray, Clinical Services Manager of the Ridge Meadows Hospital emergency department, for people who come in suffering from acute heart attacks. “[When] somebody walks through the door looking awful, like they are having an acute heart attack, our goal is from door to ECG within 10 minutes. So we need that piece of machinery there to be able to provide that.” Right now the only ECG machine at the hospital is at the lab, which is at the opposite end of the building to the emergency department. So, when somebody requires an emergency ECG, that machine is often on wards doing routine ones. “If someone is in the middle of routine work, I’ve got to take [the ECG machine] and then that test gets lost,” explained Gray, saying that once the emergency ECG is performed, the machine usually has to retest the patient on the ward. If two more are purchased, one would find a permanent home at triage to diagnose heart attacks within 10 minutes. The other would stay in the cardiology department. “That’s $42,000 for just two pieces of equipment alone,” said Laura Cherrille, Executive Director of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation, not to mention the other 24 items needed on the list. Two other items needed in the emergency are a vein viewer and a stretcher. The stretcher is needed for ambulances to be able to unload patients. “I don’t want to retain a crew just because I don’t have a stretcher to put a patient on. That means there’s not a crew on the road that’s going to go look after my husband if

he falls off a ladder or whatever,” said Gray, adding that there is also a new standard of stretchers that include built-in scales, improving accuracy in medication dosing. The vein viewer is a piece of equipment that works on infrared light and locates veins when they can’t be seen by the naked eye. This piece of equipment is most important for the hospital’s pediatric population because their arms are chubby and the veins are too deep to see, and also the elderly, whose veins are also sometimes difficult to locate. The Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation has two major fundraisers each year: the Fund Run and Gala dinner. The Foundation also relies on third-party events held by local businesses and organizations on its behalf, as well as estates and bequests, grant writings and mail-outs. This past year the Foundation raised $37,000 from the Fund Run and $233,000 at the gala, only about half of what is needed by the fiscal deadline. The Foundation does four mail-outs each year. “We’re still in the middle of our fall mail-out right now, so we don’t know what kind of numbers we are going to get,” said Cherrille. This year, in honour of the Foundation’s 25th anniversary, Hammond Jewellers created a pendant necklace, with a diamond set in the Foundation’s logo. The Foundation is selling them for $150. Next year, the Foundation will be looking at holding a spin-a-thon in partnership with the Ridge Meadows Hospice Society, possibly in March. “We do our best. So far, in the past, we’ve been able to stand tall and raise what we commit to. But we can’t do it without the community support,” said Cherrille. • To donate or to purchase a necklace go to http://www.rmhfoundation.com or call 604-463-1822.


Planning for North Lougheed development begins By Monisha Martins

T

he North Lougheed Commercial Corridor in Pitt Meadows will soon be transformed. ginning construction of the North Lougheed Connector within three years of the ALC’s acceptance of a traffic calming plan for Old Dewdney Trunk Road. The North Lougheed Connector has been pitched by the city as a way to take traffic off Old Dewdney Trunk. “We all agree we need to find a way to accommodate the ever increasing traffic coming from the east that aggravates farmers and commuters alike,” said Walters.

There is still considerable work to be done in a rather short period of time, but their support is the first step in moving forward.

This year, the city overcame the first hurdle to development along the strip by getting approval from the provincial Agricultural Land Commission to remove protection for 33.1 hectares (81 acres). However, bulldozers won’t tear up the strip for at least another two years and it could be a few more before the city sees a mixed used industrial development. “The Agricultural Land Commission has given us the green light,” said Mayor Deb Walters. “There is still considerable work to be done in a rather short period of time, but their support is the first step in moving forward.” The City of Pitt Meadows applied for exclusion in October 2012, despite protest from many residents and a petition against it. Council support for the exclusion application was not unanimous, either. Three councillors - Bruce Bell, Janis Elkerton and Dave Murray - were against it. The commission’s conditions for approval: further protection of farmland in other parts of the city; a required change in Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy; and be-

“As a council, we are firm in our commitment to diversify the tax base, provide local jobs and preserve our agricultural roots. This decision helps support all of those things.” City Director of Operations Kim Grout explained the process to begin development will take place in two phases.

Map of the proposed North Lougheed Connector. The first entails changing the land use designation of the property from agricultural and highway commercial to mixed employment. Grout expects council to consider the OCP amendment bylaw sometime in November 2013, with a public hearing set for December. Once the city gives third reading to its official community plan amendment, it will ask Metro Vancouver to amend its regional growth plan, a decision that could take up to three months. In Phase 2, the city will craft a comprehen-

sive development plan for the property that sets out the financing and construction considerations of the North Lougheed Connector road, as well as standards for developing amenities such as pathways, public spaces and buffering. Public consultation during the first phase will be limited to online comments and a public hearing, but staff anticipate the community will take an active role in discussions surrounding the details of the development, such as buffering, public spaces and other amenities.

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Christian Cowley is one of the people working hard to improve the Port Haney community.

N

ew apartment buildings, a big hotel and a new attitude should breathe new life into Port Haney.

“This community has improved remarkably in safety, security and in people’s impression of it,” said Christian Cowley, one of the people working to improve the neighbourhood. “It used to be called ‘Haney Harlem’ and ‘The Ghetto,’ but I don’t think those names fit anymore. It’s not a bad place, and it’s getting better.” Haney was once the heart of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. The Fraser River was the highway through B.C. in the 1800s, and the Haney waterfront was an important waystation for travelers. But then came the automobile and the Lougheed Highway, and Haney’s importance was diminished. It remains a neighbourhood in transition. In 2010, the Port Haney Neighbourhood Change Initiative was launched, as municipal hall’s response to problems in the area – crime and diminishing neighbourhood pride. Haney is the area south of the Lougheed Highway to the Fraser River in the downtown core – from 222nd Street in the west to 227th Street in the east. There are businesses, offices and non-profit organizations, as well as a variety of residences, from new view condominiums to post-war houses. The people who live there cherish the park space, the views of the Fraser River, the proximity to downtown amenities, and the growing sense of community spirit. The people of the Neighbourhood Change Initiative have been focusing on safety, traffic, cleaning up the area, improving communication with municipal leaders, and community celebration events. In summer 2013, the Port Haney Days celebration at the wharf attracted 300 people, and Cowley, who is part of the neighbourhood initiative, says that is a significant step. Rather than focus on the area’s problems,

he said, you need to focus on generating community pride, having fun, and people in the area getting to know each other. It was a social event, but there was also a board for people to write their ideas under the heading, “In Port Haney I want to … “ So the social planning underlies the socializing. There is a lot of new development in the neighborhood, and more to come. District hall has been dealing with a serious proposal for a hotel near the south end of 224th, and the plans are coming to frui-

People of the Neighbourhood Change Initiative have been focusing on safety, traffic, cleaning up the area, improving communication with municipal leaders, and community celebration events.

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tion. HSH Hotel and Convention Centre is proposing a 125-room hotel between 116th and Callaghan Avenues, with a restaurant, conference room, banquet hall, pool and even retail leasing space. The company is anticipating an opening in 2016. A new apartment complex has been built at the southernmost end of 224th Street, beside Haney House museum. The views of the Fraser River valley, particularly from the fourth floor windows and patios, are spectacular. Another apartment building is going up at the corner of 223rd Street and River Road, across from the Port Haney Wharf and Port Haney West Coast Express train station. The flip side to all of the development is rising property values and gentrification. “You don’t want to push out people,” said Cowley. “Over the long term, this will be a vibrant and close-knit community.”


Take advantage of local tourism opportunities n both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, local governments have targeted tourism as a key tool in the effort to boost the local economy. This means there’s a lot riding on the success of programs generated by Tourism Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows and its Executive Director, Kristina Gervais. Since taking on the task nearly four years ago, Gervais has spent a lot of time and energy helping local businesses ramp up their efforts to attract tourism dollars. The primary job, she says, has been raising awareness about the two communities, which for the longest time were somewhat cut off from the rest of the Lower Mainland because access was poor. But since the new Golden Ears and Pitt River bridges were built, there’s been a much greater interest in the area from people in other parts of Metro Vancouver. “People are definitely curious about this area because they haven’t been here before,” says Gervais. “The new bridges allow easier ac-

cess, so they’re coming to see what we have.” What we have is an abundance of natural, outdoor adventure opportunities. On the other hand, says Gervais, we still don’t have a critical mass of infrastructure and actual activities for people to take advantage of those opportunities. “There is great potential here, and great opportunity for people to use our natural advantages to create thriving businesses,” Gervais enthuses. She points to the usual “name” attractions in the area, like Golden Ears Park, the Bell Irving Fish Hatchery and WildPlay, but says there are lots of opportunities for those willing to invest and take a chance. To support budding tourism entrepreneurs, Gervais says local government and the tourism office have been working not only locally,

but outside of the two communities. “The True North Fraser brand is being pushed, as we work with Mission to build awareness about our area’s agriculture, adventure, rural culture and natural beauty,” she says. The Circle Farm Tour continues to be the most popular marketing campaign locally, bringing people into the community to experience our agri-tourism industry, which features producers of local food products. “Food really is the new wine,” Gervais says of the “food experi-

I

By Robert Prince

What we have is an abundance of natural, outdoor adventure opportunities. ence” adventures that people crave as much as wine tasting tours. “Whether you make it, bake it or grow it, people want to see, and that’s why the Circle Farm Tours are so popular.” It’s that kind of enthusiasm that will bring people here, she adds,

Alexandra Horvath zip lines through the forest at the Wild Play Element Park in Maple Ridge. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan. and why the tourism office will continue to encourage other “artisan” food companies to get involved in the years to come. Still, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are primarily one-day experience destinations, which Gervais would like to see change in the near future. “Right now we’re kind of focused on one-day events and activities because we don’t have the accommodation capacity yet that other communities have. We have to find a way to change that, and the best way will be by creating demand.” Gervais points out that the last major tourist attraction built locally was WildPlay about three years ago. If tourism is going to play the role that local government wants it to in terms of jobs and tax dollars, a lot more is going to have to happen. That said, she notes that growth

in the area has exceeded the expectations the company she works for had when it took on the local tourism contract. “We’re going to continue to boost local tourism by offering local tourism people opportunities to learn from experts in the industry about how to expand their businesses, by promoting the business opportunities available locally, and by increasing marketing efforts to people in other communities so that they’ll come to visit. “It’s all about awareness, and we actually had a great tourism season this past summer, in part to the wonderful weather, but also to the efforts of everyone in the local tourism industry, and we see no reason that things can’t be even better next summer.” • www.truenorthfraser.com

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Empty lot occupies key point in district’s downtown By Phil Melnychuk

and pathways connecting Haney Place Mall and Valley Fair Mall. “We were looking for a particular choice of property to demonstrate the development potential in the downtown,” said Darrell Denton,

Now that the gaming centre is open … it certainly does spark some renewed interest in that area.

Time, after all, is on the District of Maple Ridge’s side. After serving as a centre of squalor for years, with several decrepit homes, the district bought the property – composed of 14 lots – for $3.7 million in 2011 from a numbered company with the same address as Great Canadian Gaming Corp. The intent was for the district to buy the property, then resell to a developer, who would promise to build an “iconic” high-density, high-rise development that would be a model for other downtown projects, part of the long-term goal of creating a smart-growth, pedestrian friendly core area. Aspirations were for the development to be environmentally sustainable with park space, public art, and affordable housing, as well as roads

with Maple Ridge’s economic development department. However, when council put out a request for proposals to see if developers had any ideas, response was lacking. A downturn in real estate in 2012, the lingering effects of the 2008 recession, and the district’s own

incentive plan – which spurred dozens of new condo projects – stalled the market. “There is a lot of inventory in the marketplace right now.” The district took the property off the market earlier this year to wait for better times. Those better times might be here. “We’ve had, over the last couple of months, renewed interest in it,” said Denton. Chances Maple Ridge opened this month nearby, as did a new road giving downtown a direct link to Haney Bypass. “Now that the gaming centre is open … it certainly does spark some renewed interest in that area.” That could spark the district to re-issue a request of expressions of interest for developing the property. But if the purchase took place tomorrow, it would still take a year and a half before shovels were in the ground, Denton noted. In the meantime, proposals for three concrete tower projects have surfaced in the last few years. One is for three towers at the corner of

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The opening of the new Gaming Centre sparked the district to review the empty lot on Selkirk Avenue. Edge Street and Brown Avenue, another long-term project is for towers at Dewdney Trunk Road and 224th Street, another for towers south of Lougheed Highway in the 227th Street area.

I

t’s just another empty downtown area now, but the grass fields along Selkirk Avenue between 226th and 227th streets have potential, and the district knows it.

There is a lot of inventory in the marketplace right now. Earlier this year, Maple Ridge Coun. Al Hogarth said Maple Ridge didn’t put the district land up for sale – only expressions of interest

were sought. “There didn’t seem to be any that came to the table based on the perceptions we had, which were higher density. No one was that interested and said, “We’ve got to have it – and here’s the cheque.” Creating such a project could draw more people to Maple Ridge who are attracted by the growing mix of housing in the downtown, he added. “The hope was for high-rise, more density, high-rise type of scenario.”

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Despite scare, Maple Ridge film industry is healthy By Phil Melnychuk

Caring from Hospital to home.

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Ser vice

MAPLE RIDGE PITT MEADOWS

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A film set at the Greg Moore Youth Centre.

T

he fear at the start of the year was that tax breaks in other states and provinces were draining film productions from B.C. and killing a part of the economy and the jobs that go with it. million into Maple Ridge, about the same as the year previous and up from the $1.9 million spent during the Winter Olympics year of 2010. However, the Olympics was a low year for movie making, as producers sought to avoid Winter Games crowds. Johnson said producers like Golden Ears Park because of the room for shooting and for the trails, vistas and water. “It’s just got so many good looks to it.” Two years ago, campgrounds in the park

So film workers joined together and formed SaveBCFilm and pushed for more tax breaks. Nine months later, the movie industry has returned to a “very busy time,” says the group, which also announced its disbandment. The perceived crisis was so great local workers in the industry were thinking of packing their bags and moving to where the work was, which increasingly was in Ontario, with its attractive tax lures. Movie making in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, though, is a less up and down affair than in Vancouver. Film numbers never dropped significantly in the wake of the cancellation last April of the Harmonized Sales Tax and the return to the Provincial Sales Tax and Goods and Services Tax. And it continues to be steady. According to Marg Johnson, in Maple Ridge’s economic development office, in the first nine months of the year, Maple Ridge recorded 167 shooting days. That’s only two days less than for the same period in 2012. On average, Maple Ridge has about 240 shooting days a year, a figure that’s held steady over the last several years. The lack of the ups and downs is partly because of Golden Ears Provincial Park, and because of the higher tax credits producers earn east of the Pitt River Bridge, as well. A shooting day is considered to take place whenever filming occurs within the municipality. If three movies are being shot in one day, that’s three shooting days. Each shooting day is considered to deliver a $10,000-injection into the local economy. Over a year, that works out to about a $2-million economic contribution. In 2012, the industry pumped $2.4

Each shooting day is considered to deliver a $10,000-injection to the local economy. were turned into sets for Percy Jackson and the Olympians. This year, the shooting of 10 episodes of Crime Stories, a Winnipeg production, helped sustain the numbers in Maple Ridge. That was shot in the downtown, along Lougheed Highway, at the former E-One Moli Energy building (also a location for Arctic Air) in Maple Meadows business park, and in various pubs and restaurants. Godzilla and Rise of the Planet of the Apes was also shot in Golden Ears park this year, while location scouting for the TV series Motive is currently underway. B.C. offers a 35-per-cent tax credit on labour costs incurred when filming, which combined with other incentives, works out to an overall tax credit of 7.9 per cent of filming expenses. Filming in far-flung areas such as Maple Ridge offers an additional 12-per-cent tax credit bonus.

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finance centres through By combining administration and and economies of scale group ownership, costs can be cut achieved. says Scott. “There are fewer “Most definitely, that is the trend,” and more and more groups and fewer stand-alone operators taking over.” tion, but Scott says sales That might seem to reduce competi compete for each sale while managers within the same group at least 10 separately for the final reality check, there are e in the Lower Mainland. owned dealerships for each mak one type of vehicle. I call “It’s good when you have more than it friendly competition.”

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customers can get, which “with the amount of knowledge our I’m not opposed to.” n they walk into a Customers are more prepared whe lership and sales staff have dealership. But that means the dea cyclical nature of the business to be better, she points out. The r cools, the other picks up means if sales of one manufacture the priority. “So you build As manager, she realizes staff are agers, surround yourself yourself a strong team, strong man with good people.” customer retention and “You tend to grow your business, r.” customer loyalty are a lot stronge

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over 5,000 new and used Currently, the five dealerships sell es work within the group. vehicles a year while 200 employe marketing and brand building. Results are based on long-term erent brands. That’s all part “It’s good to be diversified with diff of it,” Scott says. keting, not only tactical “We’re very aggressive in our mar also with brand and image which is pricing and payments, but building.” on building the West Coast “We’ve concentrated quite a bit g that for a long time and doin n Auto Group image. We’ve bee r time,” Scott says. built ourselves up on that name ove

finance centres through By combining administration and and economies of scale group ownership, costs can be cut achieved. says Scott. “There are fewer “Most definitely, that is the trend,” and more and more groups and fewer stand-alone operators taking over.” tion, but Scott says sales That might seem to reduce competi compete for each sale while managers within the same group at least 10 separately for the final reality check, there are e in the Lower Mainland. owned dealerships for each mak one type of vehicle. I call “It’s good when you have more than it friendly competition.”

day and age with this “It’s very tough competing in this t now.” business climate that we’re in righ the auto business works. The Internet’s also changed how car salesman to explain the No longer do shoppers rely on a features. t to test drive a new vehicle, While most car shoppers still wan online, accomplishing many do all of their homework first process, Scott says. ing about 80 to 90 per cent of the buy e important daily. So many “That’s becoming more and mor consumers shop online now.” the Ford Lincoln and Nissan Michelle Jones-Ruppel, who runs changed the car business, stores, agrees – the Internet has

customers can get, which “with the amount of knowledge our I’m not opposed to.” n they walk into a Customers are more prepared whe lership and sales staff have dealership. But that means the dea cyclical nature of the business to be better, she points out. The r cools, the other picks up means if sales of one manufacture the priority. “So you build As manager, she realizes staff are agers, surround yourself yourself a strong team, strong man with good people.” customer retention and “You tend to grow your business, r.” customer loyalty are a lot stronge

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It was impossible to truly visualize how some of the unique development concepts would translate into reality. But since the adoption of that plan, the development has proceeded, and the protests have pretty much disappeared as the homes are built. In 2013, says Maple Ridge’s Director of Planning, Christine Carter, people are more interested in making sure that developers stick to the plan that was so hard fought, and that all of the amenities and services that were originally promised are built out. “There’s a lot of interest up there now, but the concerns are that the developers follow the plan,” says Carter. “The opposition isn’t there so much as concern that everything is done as promised.” Chuck Goddard, Manager of Development and Environmental Services, notes the quality of the development has really swayed public opinion. “People love these homes; they’ve become very desirable,” he adds. A lot of work has been done, and is being done, in Silver Valley to make those homes so desirable, says Goddard, and there’s a lot more to come – continued efforts to create innovative solutions for storm water run-off, creating pedestrian linkages to connect the residential nodes, the creation of park space, and horse trail connections One of the reasons the integrity of the development has been maintained, says Goddard, is that a lot of the more speculative developers are no longer part of the scene. The 2008 downturn in home building saw many of those who were more interested in flipping property than building quality residential neighbourhoods leave the picture. Goddard says the developers who are left have showed a real commitment to building quality. “The developers up there now are serious developers,” he adds. “They’re in it for the long term.” That said, he has noticed that over the past six months there has been more out-oftown interest in the area “as investors come to see the lay of the land,” and he expects to see more interest in Silver Valley and the rest of Maple Ridge. In the meantime, Goddard expects the coming year to be busy in Silver Valley, with the first of the four development areas – Blaney Hamlet – gradually seeing the area’s

“eco-cluster” zone start to be built out. The “eco-cluster” zones are swathes of land on which the homes are built to blend into the natural surroundings rather than following the standard practice of bulldozing the trees and shifting the natural rock formations to suit the developer’s needs. Instead, the homes are built to suit the landscape. Most of the high-density and medium-density parts of Blaney Hamlet have already either been built out, or development applications are on file. That leaves the eco-clusters and the commercial node to be built, and a development application for the latter has now been received at municipal hall, so residents may soon have their first store in the area.

FLOORING

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ack in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Silver Valley area plan was being hotly debated, and as protesters decried the development they felt would destroy a pristine part of the community, everything was just drawings and words on paper.

People love these homes; they’ve become very desirable. As for the other parts of the overall Silver Valley plan, the village area is getting more interest right now, as is the Horse Hamlet to the east. Goddard says there have been some serious inquiries about the commercial potential for the village, which will see a greater concentration of retail services than in the hamlets, and much of the residential components have applications in the works or are built already. Horse Hamlet is also getting its share of attention now that the sewer line along 128 Avenue out to the prisons has been built. There are a couple of applications in the works, and more developers expressing interest all the time, Goddard confirms. As for Forest Hamlet, which will eventually be north of the village, between the other two hamlets, it is some years away from serious development as there are currently no infrastructure services in the area. While the residential and commercial components proceed, Goddard says there are many other aspects of the community-to-be being worked upon right now, including a transportation plan, and parks and leisure services planning. There’s a lot to be done, Goddard says, as the next decade-plus of development continues in Silver Valley, and he expects the coming year will lay the groundwork for the next three to five years worth of development.


Arts at the heart of economy

Family.

A word from the

By Monisha Martins

Bouge de là: The Studio at the ACT. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan

T

he Arts Centre Theatre in downtown Maple Ridge is a buzzing hub of activity. as simple a reason as it makes good economic sense,” Sisson says. The ACT in Maple Ridge celebrated a milestone last year with its 10th anniversary. In the decade since the centre was built, it’s become a hub, not just for arts and culture, but a beacon for the local economy. Attendance is up for its presented perfor-

By having the gallery, with the arts programs and all the instructors that bring in people, we are supporting the creative economy

Drop by during the week and you’ll find someone at work on a pottery wheel, tiny ballerinas learning their first plié or a world-famous performer setting up backstage. “We have to have ways of supporting the artists in our society,” says the ACT’s Executive Director, Lindy Sisson. “By having the gallery, with the arts programs and all the instructors that bring in people, we are supporting the creative economy.” The spin-off benefits from having an arts centre, smack in the middle of the community’s core, are often hard to calculate. Sisson says when people go to a show, it’s more than just a visit to the theatre. “You go to dinner, have to pay for a babysitter. It can have other spin-offs,” she adds. A 2006 report by G.S. Sandhu and Associates noted that for every direct job in the arts and cultural sector of B.C., between 1.32 and 1.52 jobs are created in the overall economy, or 0.3 to 0.5 additional jobs. The arts attract people to live and work in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, reduce turnover for employers, and contribute to the stability of the workforce. A study done by Arts Future B.C. found the arts also help create cross-cultural understanding that improves workplace and customer relationships and contributes to more a successful enterprise. Those who attend and participate in arts and cultural events are more likely to be physically active and engaged in their communities. “These are just some examples of how arts and culture impact our community and how it’s vitally important to support the arts - for

mances, from 2,633 attendees in its inaugural season (2003-2004) to 13,592 patrons in 2012-2013. The number of performances have also risen dramatically from nine “ACT Presents” shows in its first year to 42 this past season. The theatre’s rental presentations at the ACT have also risen by 14,076 patrons over the past decade and featured 57 performances in the inaugural year to 113 this past season. This season thus far has seen a sold out performance of the Arts Club on Tour’s Boeing, Boeing and a full house in the Studio Theatre for Sarah Hagen’s first Classical Coffee Concert performance. Sisson believes Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows would be very different without The ACT. “That is another side of it,” she adds. “It’s not just what people get out of it, it’s also making sure we have a healthy creative sector.”

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All the good things our Rotary clubs do By Colleen Flanagan to have access to bereavement literature. Money will also be going to the Brown Bag lunch program, a children’s school lunch program at the Caring Place. The annual Rotary Duck Race is another popular fundraising event that has raised upwards of $70,000 each year for the past three years. This year the race raised $89,555, more than the previous two years, with every cent going to 27 non-profit organizations and Rotary youth projects in the community. The first year $70,000 was raised

The three biggest fundraisers for the Haney Club specifically is Men’s Night, Ladies Night and the annual golf tournament.

Unique fundraising events enable the Meadow Ridge and Haney Rotary Clubs to raise thousands of dollars for local groups every year. New in 2013 was the Meadow Ridge Rotary Oktoberfest celebration, which took the place of the annual wine festival, a Rotary fundraising event for 20 years. “It was extremely successful,” Meadow Ridge Rotary President Adrienne Dale said about Oktoberfest, which raised more than $6,000 for local rotary projects. So successful was the event that three kegs of beer were emptied within the first 45 minutes of the event and organizers had to run out to get more. “There are so many people doing the same thing now. You have to do different things. Nobody had done an Oktoberfest before,” said Dale. Funds raised from Oktoberfest will be going to various organizations that apply directly to the Meadow Ridge Rotary club. A grant has already been approved for a new hospice library at McKenney Creek for friends and families of terminally ill patients

and $88,500 the following year. Local sports groups that have benefited from rotary funding: Pitt

20 MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2013

Meadows Youth Basketball, Ridge Meadows Minor Softball, Golden Ears Athletics, Ridge Meadows Knights Football, Ridge Meadows Minor Ball Hockey, Ridge Meadows Canoe and Kayak Club, Ridge Meadows Speed Skating, Haney Neptunes, Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball, Ridge Meadows Paddling, Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey and Ridge Meadows Special Olympics. Last year, rotary donated $125,000 to help build and maintain sports facilities for children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Rotary’s annual sports banquet, normally held in October, will be held in spring 2014. While still in the early stages of planning, Dale is hoping to change some aspects of the banquet, Rotary’s biggest fundraiser for more than 20 years. “I am hoping to reduce the cost of tickets and things, but we don’t know,” Dale said of the banquet. Ken Holland, President of the Haney Rotary Club, agrees with Dale about the need to keep fundraising events fresh and appealing.

Maple Ridge Firefighters participate at the annual Rotary Duck Race. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan. The three biggest fundraisers for the Haney club specifically is Men’s Night, Ladies Night and the annual golf tournament. Next year the club is going to focus on revamping Ladies Night and the golf tournament instead of holding Men’s Night. “If you keep it the same, it dies out. People will go three years in a row and then never go again. You’ve got to get the new guys. And that’s what we’re doing,” said Holland. Both clubs will strive to work closer together, as well as with the

club in Mission. Talks are underway about holding a rib festival, possibly for next year. “We are just in discussions right now about the manpower involved, what kind of outlay of costs to get everything together,” explained Holland. “The Kamloops Club does a rib fest and they hook up with a car show and bunch of other stuff. And it is such an awesome event that they only do this one event per year,” said Holland. continued on page 21


Students volunteering in Guatemala for The Rotary “YES” Program. continued from page 20

In addition to local community projects, both the Haney and Meadow Ridge Rotary Clubs are involved in national and international projects. The Meadow Ridge Rotary Club supports a library at a school in Repulse Bay, Nunavut. In January, some members will be traveling to Nicaragua, the third largest city in Central America, to build kitchens on the sides of schools. Meanwhile, Haney Rotary Club President Holland, along with past-president Keesha Rosario, fellow Rotarian Rod Hughes and students in the Youth Engaged In Service (YES) program travelled to Guatemala last year and installed 60 cooking stoves into homes of villagers in two remote communities. They have just finished interviewing the six new students that will be accompanying them to Guatemala next year. The students will have to complete 80 hours of local community service within eight months to be able to go. Again, they will be installing wood burn-

ing stoves into windowless huts no bigger than the average North American sized living room. The stoves will properly ventilate smoke from inside their homes. “It stops the children from being burned, It stops the lung problems they are suffering from down there and it burns more efficiently, they don’t have to use as many trees and cut down the resources,” Holland said of the stove’s advantages. Next year, he would like to get involved with a clean water project. “Water is very important right now. Obviously, more people die from tainted water than from anything else,” he said, adding that the villagers he has met in Guatemala collect rain water. Both local Rotary clubs also contribute to the top goal for Rotary International, which is eradicating polio worldwide. Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person, invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although there is no cure for the disease, there are safe vaccinations. Since 1979, Rotary International has helped eradicate polio in all but three countries in the world. The Haney Rotary Club meets every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Meadow Gardens Golf Course. • For more information, visit http://www. haneyrotary.org. • The Meadow Ridge Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at noon at the Bella Vita Restaurant. For more information, go to http://www.meadowridgerotary.ca.

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More commercial space desired By Robert Prince

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“We definitely need more commercial space, there’s no doubt about that,” says Bob Quinnell, Managing Broker at Royal LePage Brookside Realty. He tracks commercial property for clients who are wanting to set up shop locally, but says many aren’t thrilled about much of what’s available for lease or purchase. He specifically points to the lack of land being developed right now for bigger retailers, such as Wal-Mart, and questions whether those who oppose such development are making the right decision for the community with their opposition.

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The lack of land for big stores is just one problem facing Maple Ridge right now. Another concern is the lack of the smaller spaces currently available. Quinnell tries to be diplomatic when he suggests that there “is nothing significant available that isn’t older and run down.” Antalek says the local commercial market is actually quite busy these days, and notes the building of smaller commercial buildings has been quite robust, recently. However, he also notes that most of those spaces are snapped up as fast as they’re built, so there is very little inventory when it comes to the shiny, new spaces that the new businesses coming to town want. “Brand new businesses and new professional offices are wanting brand new buildings,” he adds. “The market is currently absorbing just about everything that is being built, which is good news because it shows that we can attract new business if we have the right commercial stock.” What this doesn’t bode well for is those properties that are dated and run down. Both Quinnell and Antalek agree the time is ripe for owners of such properties to consider spending some money to rejuvenate their buildings, either with significant renovations or new buildings.

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aple Ridge is currently under-stocked when it comes to commercial real estate, and the quality of much of what is available is inadequate, according to two local realtors who keep a keen eye on such supply.

Re/Max Realtor Ron Antalek concurs, noting that a significant component of the community has made it clear they want some larger retail stores built locally, particularly in the Albion area. Although he admits he has a financial interest in seeing Albion developed, Antalek doesn’t believe developing bigger stores in that area will take anything away from the downtown core because the population is growing fast enough.

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Real estate market stable in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows By Robert Prince

The “stable” market the two communities are currently experiencing is unlikely to change for better or worse in 2014, according to two prominent local realtors who think the new year will be more of what we’ve been seeing for the past year. Ron Antalek, a top producer at Re/Max Lifestyles Realty for the past decade, offers no hesitation when he says the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows market is all about stability right now. “Listings are down for the year [compared to 2012], but sales are similar and pricing is similar. When you have that happening, you know things are stable.” He’s also confident in saying he doesn’t expect anything to change dramatically because there is nothing he can point to that indicates a shift in pricing, inventory or sales. It’s a position Bob Quinnell, Managing Broker at Royal LePage

Brookside Realty, supports fully for the coming year based on current statistics, and common sense. He agrees that interest rates, inventory and pricing are unlikely to change much in 2014 because there are no expectations that the economy is going to rise or fall much. However, Quinnell calls the current market “transitional” because he believes that while the coming year will likely be calm, there is almost certainly one force on the horizon that is likely to bring big changes in two or three years. “I expect we’ll see some small increases in price in the coming year. Nobody has a crystal ball, so they could [jump], but the statistics and logic say it will probably be slower growth.” That can’t be said for two or three years down the road, when the great immigration boom that drove prices up in parts west of the Pitt River fi-

nally crosses over into Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. “When the supply of affordable homes in other areas is gone, it will drive prices up here, as well, because people – including those from Asia – want inexpensive land and we have it. “Maple Ridge looks like a pretty good place to invest these days, whether you’re a developer or a homeowner looking for equity.”

I

f you’re looking for a volatile real estate market in the coming year, don’t waste your time in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows.

I expect we’ll see some small increases in price in the coming year. It’s Quinnell’s opinion that prices in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are too cheap when compared to the rest of the Greater Vancouver region, which has an average composite benchmark price of $542,300 compared to Maple Ridge, where the composite price is just $387,900. He says that as soon as local supply dries up, prices are going to rise quickly. It’s something he’s

Ron Antalek with Remax Lifestyles Realty. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan experienced before in Abbotsford, and “the funny thing is, when it happens, it happens really quick.” For his part, Antalek figures the biggest pressure on the housing market is most likely to come from economic gains in the United States and Europe. When those economies start growing – and there are indications both are moving up now, he says – that will put pressure on the Canadian economy, particularly interest rates. “In the long term, we will see a rise as the European and U.S. economies improve, and the Canadian economy declines. It will slowly happen.” He notes there are rumblings from

the Bank of Canada that there could be a small rise in the prime interest rate in 2014, but whether that actually happens will depend on the state of the Canadian economy. On the plus side, Antalek points to some of the positive influences that will keep the local housing market consistent, including community livability and desirability, the natural amenities, and a good inventory of new condos. So it’s slow and steady for 2014 when it comes to real estate, say Antalek and Quinnell, which, if you’re trying to plan your family’s future, isn’t such a bad thing, they both agree.

MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2013 23


Adding LIFE to your Years

At Greystone Manor

Q Q

By Kevin Gillies

What exactly is an Independent Living Seniors Residence? An Independent Living Residence is not a nursing home! Simply put, it is an apartment building for seniors with separate suites, security and hospitality services in place. There are no “rules”. Our residents are not “giving up” any of their independence. They are choosing a lifestyle that is more worry- free, allowing them to enjoy the things they love to do while we do the everyday tasks such as meals and housekeeping. That’s it! Left: BC Hydro Lines. Right: Proposed plan for Interior to Lower Mainland Transmission Project.

Is there any assistance if a senior would need extra help? Yes. This is called supportive services and they are available in Independent Living. Requiring a little extra help does not mean that a senior is not independent.

What are some of the comments that you hear from your residents? The most common comment I hear is “I should have moved in sooner”! Almost immediately, I see improvements in a senior’s general health. Many discover new enjoyments, interests and an easing of the daily life chores. Also, companionship is such a health benefit for all of us! We have a saying at Greystone Manor “add some life to your years!” That is my focus and I enjoy being a part of this with every new resident.

Contact Cheryl with your questions or join her for Lunch and a Tour 604-467-2808. 11657 Ritchie Ave, Maple Ridge

(Behind McDonalds on 228th St)

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24 MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2013

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lectrical transmission line expansion work by B.C. Hydro through Golden Ears Park and across the North Fraser area is about halfway completed.

“The project is 250 kilometres from the Nicola Sub-Station outside of Merritt, and it goes all the way to Coquitlam,” explains Melissa Holland, B.C. Hydro’s Interior to Lower Mainland (ILM) Project Manager. “We are working on all five sections at the same time,” Holland says. Section 5 of the ILM project runs from the west side of Mission, thought Golden Ears park to the Meridian Substation in Coquitlam. “We probably started clearing an access in that area last year,” says Holland. Scheduled to be in service by January 2015, the ILM Project will expand the capacity of B.C. Hydro’s transmission system that brings power from generation plants in the north and southern Interior of B.C., and delivers reliable electrical energy to homes and businesses in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The project includes a new 500 kV transmission line between two existing B.C. Hydro electrical substations: Nicola Substation near Merritt and Meridian Substation in Coquitlam. “Two-thirds of the route parallels an existing line; [from the] Meridian Substation end [in Coquitlam], it parallels an existing circuit till just east of Harrison Hot Springs and Hope, and then it actually parallels most of the way back up to Nicola Sub-Station, other existing circuits as well. It comes in and goes out from existing circuits,” Holland states. “So in the Maple Ridge area, you’re paralleling one.” B.C. Hydro is building this new line is to

meet population growth’s demand for electricity in the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley, and on Vancouver Island. “We’re forecasting the load to grow approximately 20-40 per cent in the next 20 years. And we had identified a number of years ago that the system was going to be constrained in the mid-2014, 2015 time period,” Holland says. “Because we aren’t adding additional generation in the Lower Mainland, we need more transmission capacity to bring power from our resources in the Interior to the load centre.”

Q

Cheryl Noble has a passion! Working with and for seniors has been a big part of her life for 10 years. Presently the General Manager of Greystone Manor in Maple Ridge and a member of the Ridge Meadows Katzie Seniors Network, she is well known as a warm, compassionate advocate all for seniors in our community. Cheryl is always available to answer your questions and addresses some of them below.

B.C. Hydro’s Interior to Lower Mainland project, delivering reliable electrical energy

We’re forecasting the load to grow approximately 20-40 per cent in the next 20 years. The transmission line corridor passes through the southern end of Golden Ears Provincial Park and a couple other parks in other regions. Park visitors may have encountered crews and vehicles accessing the transmission line corridor last year, removing vegetation. Further electrical line infrastructure upgrade work was slated for throughout this year. Some traffic disruption may be experienced along roadways in order to facilitate access for workers and equipment to the transmission corridor. The ILM project had to be approved by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office before it could go ahead.


Investments obvious in downtown Maple Ridge By Neil Corbett

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visitor who hadn’t been to downtown Maple Ridge in a few years would see obvious signs of investment from home builders, commercial business and the local government. bought the struggling Zellers chain, including the Maple Ridge store. Target renovated the 85,000-square-foot building inside and out. The typical U.S.based Target store, of which there are 1,764, is some 135,000 square feet. Part of the Maple Ridge reno includes a second-storey expansion, which will bring the local store’s total retail area to 111,000 sq. ft.. Target opened on November 13th. With the earlier addition of Thrifty Foods, Haney Place Mall has landed two destination retailers in the space of a couple years, and combined with the mall company’s own $4.5 million improvements to the facilities, it has become a lot more attractive for shoppers.

Another attraction to downtown is the new Chances Maple Ridge gaming centre, which opened in October at the corner of Lougheed Highway and 227th Street. The new building has a bar/ restaurant, 200 seats for bingo, and slot machines. As well, Club 16 – Trevor Linden Fitness is moving into the old library building downtown, with

Target opened at Haney Place Mall November 13th. al flat-screen televisions, free weights, cable-resistance strength machines and circuit training options, as well as MyRide personal spinning, and She’s Fit! – a comfortable environment for women only. It will also have parking above the club, with a private entrance for members. The combined new construction and renovations were an opportunity for the district to give the downtown area a major sprucing up. Roads, sidewalks, curbs and medians have all been re-paved, and new street furniture and street lights have been installed, and trees planted from 226th to 228th streets.

More than 1,000 condominium units have been built or started under the plan.

The District of Maple Ridge has offered incentives for developers to build apartments in the area, and developers have taken them up on it in a big way. There has been $77 million in new construction, and numerous three- and four-storey apartment buildings have sprung up in the area. More than 1,000 condominium units have been built or started under the plan. The goal of the incentive plan is to increase the downtown population from 8,500 residents to more than 20,000. On the commercial front, Haney Place Mall has gotten an approximately $10 million facelift from Target. The mall’s new anchor tenant is one of the most popular U.S. department store retailers, which

renovations ongoing and an opening date pegged for January. The new 20,000 square-foot club will feature more than 100 cardio machines with person-

This “eastern gateway” was a municipal investment of some $1.4 million. As attractive as the new Chances site is, the move leaves a vacancy in the Haney Bingo Plex building on 224th Street. However, Bernie Stoelzle, one of the owners of the Bingo Plex, said he is in discussions with more than one potential tenant interested in opening a business across from the new Target. “People have to realize how big an impact Target will have on the downtown. The way I see it, it should have a good impact,” he said.

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MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2013 25


Together, promoting True North Fraser By Kevin Gillies

P

romoting the North Fraser Valley’s agriculture and eco-tourism sectors has been no cheesy deal, but it’s caught the eyes of the provincial government and local businesses alike. Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission have been jointly trying to promote its communities, to attract commercial and industrial investors, and, in the process, double their population and well-paying jobs. The project, known as the “True North Fraser” branding, aims to identify locally produced goods and services to local consumers as well as those outside the Fraser Valley. “It definitely is [a regional marketing initiative], but it starts from what our common assets are and the opportunity,” explains the District of Maple Ridge’s manager of Strategic Economic Initiatives, Sandy Blue. “So key sectors we have like agriculture, and tourism, and technology among them, are the ones that we looked at and said,

‘You know what? This is stuff that’s shared. And we’re stronger together than not.’” Blue says the three North Fraser municipalities began softly working on joint promotion ideas a couple of years ago and it caught the attention of the B.C. Government.

It’s an investment attraction strategy to bring the commercial and industrial e phone you wantinvestment . in to help create high-value etwork you can rely on. local jobs.

“We were marketing as ‘Invest North Fraser’ and they chose us as the B.C. Jobs Plan pilot,” she explains, adding the program helps the regional group with resources and focus. She adds the group

has been working on a number of projects, and that the essence of it is about building connections. Lori Graham, Economic Development Coordinator for the Pitt Meadows Economic Development Corporation, says that as part of the B.C. Jobs Plan, there are five large projects across the region. “There’s the International Education and Business Parking at Pitt Meadows Airport, an Agri-Food distrubtion hub in Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge has their Business Innovation Accelerator, Centre of Excellence, and there’s two more in Mission …” Graham says. But the True North Fraser branding initiative, with its focus on local agriculture, is aiming specifically to expand business and population in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. “It’s an investment attraction

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Davison family members (l to r) Lynn, Emma, Kerry and Jenna are owner operators of Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Cheesecrafters, which takes part in the True North Brand program and includes the economic initiative’s logo on its wrappings. - Submitted Photo. strategy to bring the commercial and industrial investment in to help create high-value local jobs, and also to help existing businesses, that are here, to thrive,” Blue says. “The partnership and collaboration has got us much farther together than we ever would have been on our own,” Blue says.

“It’s been highly successful. Evidence of that would be some of the work that we’ve done to help with our tourism and agriculture sectors in the launch of the ‘True North Fraser’ brand. You can download the True North Fraser app for free and you can see all of continued on page 27

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continued from page 26

Benefits of the Ruskin Dam retrofit project By Kevin Gillies

T family and close to their operation. “We just try to do the best job that we can; doing everything as naturally as possible, with no stabilizers, no preservatives, artificial flavours or colours. It’s cheese the way it’s supposed to be made,” she says, adding they also sell cheese curds, and butter. “It is a pretty delicious store,” she says with a giggle. And their products carry the True North Fraser logo. “With the True North Fraser, what they’re trying to do is make it identifiable to this area. So when people have that marked on their product — whether they’re retailing it or whether they’re selling it locally, or at other famers’ markets — people can recognize that logo and say, ‘Oh, I know where this is made.’ It’s going to be made somewhere north of the Fraser River, within the Fraser Valley,” Davison states.

he multi-staged, multi-million-dollar renovation and upgrade work at the Ruskin Dam is about to pass another landmark stage, with the refilling of the Hayward Reservoir. The work that began in 2012 on the then-82-year-old structure just east of Maple Ridge is only about a year and a half into its six-year plan, but the Hayward Recreational Area could be opened to the public as early as this month (November). “We’ve got the reservoir lowered for a little while longer,” explains B.C. Hydro’s Judy Dobrowolski, spokesperson for the Ruskin and Powerhouse Upgrade Project. “We’re looking to the end of November. But the parking restrictions are in effect for the duration of the project.” “We’ve closed the recreational area down while the reservoir is lowered to keep everybody safe. Once the reservoir returns to its normal level, then, yes, access to the reservoir will be restored,” she says. “But the hiking trails and the dog park are still open. You just can’t get into the reservoir.” The $626-$748 million retrofit

and upgrade project includes a seismic upgrade of the dam along with an upgrading of the powerhouse equipment. “We have a piece on the right bank, which is the west bank,

the things across our three communities that are related to events, or farm tours, or anything to do with agriculture and agriculture tourism.” Blue says the Maple Ridge alone has 3,000 companies and the goal is to double that number, along with Maple Ridge’s population, in the next 10 years. One local business, successful in its own right, is on board with the program and labeling it’s handcrafted cheese products with the True North Fraser logo. Emma Davison and her sister Jenna are the fifth generation of a family that has farmed in Maple Ridge since 1902. Together with their parents, Lynn and Kerry, the Davison sisters own and operate Golden Ears Cheesecrafters on 128th Avenue. Emma says their family run business is attracting attention from far and wide. “We do everything by hand. We’re a very small operation. We process, at the moment, two days a week and we do 3,000 litres in that week,” she explains, adding, “Jenna is the head cheese maker and she’s come up with some wonderful new recipes, as well as the common cheeses that people tend to lean towards, that are more familiar.” Their family store is next door to an uncle’s dairy farm, so the milk supply is from within the

Ruskin Dam provides reliable electricity to about 33,000 homes where we built a seepage barrier wall to address some seepage and piping issues that have been happening basically since the dam was built,” Dobrowolski says. “That work is done now.” She adds, “Happening simultaneously to that is a seismic upgrade to the powerhouse. If you drive by you can see the powerhouse has got some scaffolding and some shrinkwrap around it. That’s the work that is happening underneath, as well as the resurfacing of the powerhouse.

As well, shortly, we’re going to begin repairing or replacing the weigh gates and tiers. That’s another part of the seismic upgrade.” The lower part of the dam was built in the 1930s and is still sound and not needing much work, although it will be strengthened before work on the upper portion of dam and spillway piers begins. Dobrowolski is quick to point out that Ruskin Dam provides reliable electricity to about 33,000 homes in the immediate area. As a B.C. Hydro stakeholder engagement advisor, Dobrowolski regularly talks about the importance of the retrofit and upgrade of Ruskin Dam and its importance to, and economic impact on the surrounding communities. “We’ve got some really good benefits to the local economy happening with this project, and that’s something that we really fostered when we were planning the project,” Dobrowolski explains. “We’re looking at, throughout the construction time period of about six years, we’ll produce about 175 jobs a year. We’ve created business opportunities for local contractors, local suppliers, and First Nations as well.”

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Connecting with seniors, and connecting them By Colleen Flanagan

Practicing Tai Chi at the Seniors Centre. - Photo by Colleen Flanagan.

S

eniors need to stay connected to the community and be socially active, and there are many programs and services in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows that help them to do so. Way, the program offers transportation services, visiting services and housekeeping and handyman services for seniors who are geographically or socially isolated in order for them to live at home for as long as possible. “A lot of the seniors who we support, a high percentage of them do live on their own and some have no family in our community and in some cases the province,” said Leginus.

That is the good part of what Joanne Leginus does as Director of Administration and Services with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services. The organization offers a variety of programs to help seniors who choose to live on their own. One is Meals On Wheels, which delivers well-balanced, hot, nutritious meals to individuals five days a week to those who live independently and qualify for the prorgram. In addition to receiving a hot meal, the program provides social contact for seniors and disabled persons living on their own, security knowing that someone is going to check on them, short-term convalescent help, and ongoing assistance for the chronically ill. Community services also offers the Better At Home program. Once a pilot project in Maple Ridge, the Better At Home program has now expanded across the province to more than communities. Funded by the government of British Columbia and managed through the United

The cost for the grocery shopping and delivery service is $2 per delivery.

“It is really important for wellness to stay socialized with other people, to have that connection to people and to the community,” she continued. Most recently, Community Services partnered with Save On Foods at Valley Fair Mall for a new grocery shopping and delivery service. In some cases, seniors are encouraged to visit the grocery store with a volunteer in order to get them out in the community and not as isolated.

The program is for seniors who can’t get out their homes to get to a store. Orders are taken over the phone and every Wednesday morning a team of volunteers shop for those orders, which are then delivered to doorsteps. Although there is a fee for services provided by Community Services, Leginus says they fill a gap of providing more affordable services for the people who need them. There are four different price levels depending on the income level of the individual. “The lower the income the lower the cost, so it is not a one cost for everybody because some people just can’t afford it,” said Leginus. The cost for the grocery shopping and delivery service is $2 per delivery. “I know we can say that we do transportation and we do housekeeping, but part of that is we have someone that is connecting with a senior and many times they are alone and many times they are the only person connecting with them,” said Leginus. A Seniors Resource Guide is also available through Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services. It is a user friendly guide to all services available for seniors in the community, available in both print and online. It is currently being updated and will be put out by the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network soon.

In addition to Community Resources, the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society has a lot going on. New at the Pitt Meadows Seniors Centre is a lunch program every Tuesday and Thursday. It includes soup, sandwich and dessert. Lunch must be pre-ordered and pre-paid for at the front desk at the centre. Since Nov. 1, the centre hosts a $1 drop-in health and wellness clinic every first and third Friday each month. Seniors can have their blood pressure, height and weight checked, as well as access other information. The centre also offers a variety of activities, such as line dancing, bridge, mah jong, crafts, whist, zumba, carpet bowling, tai chi, crib, a computer lab and a foot clinic. There are also plenty of drop-in activities at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre. There are stay fit classes, table tennis, seniors workout, carpet bowling, gentle joint and yoga fit, tap and jazz, Spanish and Flamenco dance and a lot more. • For more information about Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Resources or for a copy of the seniors guide, go to http:// www.comservice.bc.ca/programs-services/ senior-services. • For information about the Pitt Meadows Seniors Centre, call 604-457-4771, or the Ridge Meadows Activity Centre, 604-467-4993.

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‘Moderate growth’ for Golden Ears Bridge By Colleen Flanagan

T

ransLink has seen moderate traffic growth on the Golden Ears Bridge in 2013 and expects volumes in future years to be relatively stable. In 2012, the annual revenue for the Golden Ears Bridge was $38.9 million. TransLink officials told Metro Vancouver mayors in October that the annual subsidy needed for contractor payments and maintenance costs is expected to grow from $30 million – to around $40 million in each of the next two years. When it comes to money expected to be brought in from the tolls, in 2011, revenues were about $4 million less than the projections of $38 million. It took until a year later before the $38 million figure was hit, with actual figures for 2012 showing revenue at $38.9 million, with the same revenue expected this year. Currently, passenger vehicles, vans, SUVs, pick-up trucks and taxis pay $3.00 per crossing for those registered with a transpon-

der, $3.55 for those only registered and $4.25 for unregistered pay-as-you-go passenger vehicles.

It’s built for a hundred years, to last the economy, and as you start to see areas develop along both sides of the bridge, per year usage, of course, is going to grow.

By the end of 2013, TransLink expects the annual revenue from the bridge to be at $38.7 million, with a total of 11.2 million crossings. Traffic on the bridge has grown two to three per cent over 2013, which is consistent with economic growth on both sides of the Golden Ears. “The bridge is built for the long term. It’s built for a hundred years, to last the economy, and as you start to see areas develop along both sides of the bridge, per year usage, of course, is going to grow. Especially with the market area on either side,” explained Derek Zabel, with TransLink. The Golden Ears Bridge opened in 2009 with an expectation of 30,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily. But in 2012, the average number of daily crossings was still only 29,500.

Small trucks registered with a transponder currently pay $6.00, unregistered pay $6.55 and $7.15 for pay-as-you-go. Large trucks registered with a transponder pay $8.95 per crossing. Those only registered pay $9.60 per crossing and unregistered pay $10.15 per crossing. Motorcycles currently pay $1.50 if they are registered and $2.75 per crossing if they are

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Pitt Meadows business park ideally located By Kevin Gillies

P

itt Meadows is home to one of the largest industrial developments currently under way in the Metro Vancouver region, and it’s aiming to attract business east of the Pitt River Bridge.

Tenants are currently being sought for the Golden Ears Business Park, built by the Onni Group and located south of Airport Way at Harris Road. “The Golden Ears Business Centre presents an incredible opportunity for Pitt Meadows,” says Lori Graham, Economic Development Coordinator for the Pitt Meadows Economic Development Corporation.

The Golden Ears Business Park is one of the largest industrial developments in Metro Vancouver.

“This development will bring employment opportunities to our community and help diversify the tax base. Onni has been working hard at attracting a strong mix of tenants and we are very pleased with progress to date.” Onni calls the new park a state-of-the-art, light-industrial business park, offering up to 1.5 million square feet of “build-to-suit opportunities and multi-tenant warehouse space.”

The company says Golden Ears Business Park is the first of its kind and the most versatile and unique park in the Fraser Valley. “This new business park is able to accommodate users who require large-scale custom designed facilities, in addition to providing small and mid-sized options for growing companies,” the company touts on its website. “The Golden Ears Business Park is one of the largest industrial developments in Metro Vancouver.” The Golden Ears Business Park is situated on Harris Road and Airport Way, directly adjacent the Fraser River and minutes from the Golden Ears Bridge on-ramp. Port Kells/Northwest Langley is seven minutes away via the Golden Ears Bridge, providing immediate access to the Trans Canada Highway and the South Fraser Perimeter Road. It is also within five minutes of the CP Vancouver Intermodal Terminal and the West Coast Express Station. “That’s a 95-acre park,” says Graham, adding, “It’s one of the largest industrial developments in Metro Vancouver right now.”

New business district planned on Albion Flats By Neil Corbett

Albion Flats land proposed to be new business district.

M

aple Ridge’s eastern reaches are ripe for business development, and with bureaucratic red tape out of the way, shovels could soon be in the ground. The course has been set for development of the Albion Flats area, with the Agricultural Land Commission’s decision about what land in the area can be used for commercial and residential use, and which will remain farmland. The District of Maple Ridge asked the commission for permission to develop farm fields along the Lougheed Highway, which are cut in half by 105th Avenue. The response came back this summer: the commission will conditionally allow development of approximately 150 acres on the east side of 105th, but not the lands to the west.

One of the things we’re adamant on is that it’s going to be a quality development down there.

SmartCentres, a mall developer, is in negotiations to acquire 17 acres of district land that is used for the Countryfest annual fair every summer. The mall company would offer back 20 acres it owns on the west side of 105th Ave-

nue, which must remain in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The fair would move to that site, which fronts Lougheed Highway. SmartCentres would be left with a 27acre site for a new mall development east of 105th Avenue. The negotiations for the land swap are complex and ongoing, but the mall is seen as a major impetus for other future commercial development of the Albion Flats. District of Maple Ridge Development Services Manager Frank Quinn said he expects to see the first development applications from developers at municipal hall by the end of the year. New business on the south side of Lougheed Hwy. is also being planned. A West Coast Express station along the rail tracks and a transit hub are part of the conversation, and pedestrian links between the downtown and the new Albion commercial district will be explored. One of the things we’re adamant on is that it’s going to be a quality development down there,” Quinn said. “We’re not looking for a sea of asphalt.”

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November 20, 2013  

Section Z of the November 20, 2013 edition of the Maple Ridge News