MAPLE RIDGE PITT MEADOWS
OUTLOOK Business. Development. Tourism. Education. Health. Lifestyle. Those are the guiding principles behind Outlook, a progress report about the vitality of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. From the areaâ€™s prosperous agricultural industry, to residential, commercial ad industrial development, to capital infrastructure improvements, all are key to continued growth of both communities. In the sixth edition of Outlook, The News examines the areaâ€™s economic energy.
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017 B3
Golden Ears one of Maple Ridge’s golden places By Tim Fitzgerald
There’s plenty to love about Maple Ridge. Golden Ears Provincial Park is the jewel in the city’s tourism crown, spanning more than 62,000 hectares and featuring everything from swimming, boating, hiking and horseback riding. But there are a number of smaller gems in the region as well. The ACT sets the stage for an already vibrant arts community, while the city boasts a number of hiking trails, agri-tourism stops and some of the best fishing holes anywhere. In order to capitalize on the ever-growing tourism market, the City of Maple Ridge is in the midst of developing a three-year tourism strategy with a task force of 20 local citizens. After holding a series of comprehensive workshops and open houses between August to October of 2016, the city is busy on its second draft, said Lino Siracusa, the city’s manager of economic development. He said after initial talks in 2016, it was evident more outreach with the community would help build a better tourism network. He said by continuing to reach out to groups like Katzie First Nations as well as the hotels in the area, Maple Ridge can continue to build its tourism brand. “We have our challenges, but we are reaching out,” said Siracusa. “We’re in the process of building our social media profile which is an important component of our overall strategy.” He said the city is working on some promotion videos it can share on its social media
platforms, as well as initiatives that can make visitor’s experiences more positive. One example, he said, would be producing something as basic as a cycling map that would highlight routes and paths throughout Maple Ridge, as well as highlighting tourist stops along the way. He said by bringing more community tourism groups to the table, a more comprehensive strategy will emerge. Siracusa said it’s critical the city tap into B.C.’s second largest industry. In 2014, tourism directly employed about 127,500 people and generated more than $14.6 billion in revenue. In Maple Ridge, the city estimated $41 million in revenues in 2015, while hotel room revenues for the area were $3.7 million and the estimated full-time equivalent jobs were 360. Siracusa said based on interviews with tourism stakeholders, tourism will only increase as the population of the area grows. Again, he said one of the main components is continuing to build on its social media strategy. They have launched their own hashtag, #discovermapleridge. Over the last 30 years, Maple Ridge’s population doubled to 76,052 people as of the 2011 Census of Canada count. The city’s population is projected to be 108,900 in 2031, growing faster than the B.C. average. According to the initial task force report, Maple Ridge has a much higher proportion of young families and children than other municipalities in the Lower Mainland. About 3,600 work in accommodation, food
Lots of trails in Maple Ridge. million overnight visitors visit the Vancouver Coast Mountains every year, with B.C. residents making up the majority of visitors, at 45 per cent. Washington makes up 10 per cent and Alberta comes in third at six per cent. According to the task force’s initial findings, other initiatives include bolstering recreation equipment rentals like bikes, boats, stand-up paddle boards, canoes, kayaks and even horses. Other suggestions include developing a Maple Ridge “grind,” utilizing the vast hiking trails in the region.
services and recreation, allowing the city to draw from a strong tourism labour pool. Siracusa said while the majority of tourists to the area come from the Greater Vancouver area, one of the main goals is to also make locals aware of the many opportunities right in their own backyard. He said one of the best marketing tools is word of mouth. “When people are proud of their hometown, they love to share their experiences and spread the word. That can be a great way to bring people to the community.” Spreading the word is key. More than 8.3
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Pitt Meadows Day art gallery to boost tourism in community By Colleen Flanagan
ity of Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker would like to see Pitt Meadows Day become a regional event.
That is one way the mayor and council are looking to promote tourism in the city in 2018 and beyond. Becker would like to explore opportunities to work with the Katzie First Nations and the Alouette Paddling Club to include more areas in the community in what he says is the city’s signature event. He would like to make it the “Lower Mainland’s biggest block party,” although he says, that idea has not been endorsed by council. “I would like to see incremental improvements. Pitt Meadows Day is our largest signature event. Council is acknowledging that signature events do require greater resourcing through our new (arts, culture and heritage) department,” said Becker. “I would like to see the things we’ve done before, done better and I’d like to see some new initiatives. Try them on for size. If they work, great. If they don’t work, we just won’t do them next year or the year after that,” continued Becker. The City of Pitt Meadows is also opening up a new public art gallery in the former tourism office and visitor centre at 12572 Harris Rd. In July, city council approved a $28,000-renovation of the office and a
$10,000 remediation to remove asbestos. A report from Susann Sigmund, the city’s arts, culture and heritage coordinator, noted that an art gallery in the city was identified as an “overwhelming vision and goal for the community.” Becker is hoping it will be a “beehive of activity” for the arts community, not only for the visual arts but also for spoken word, poetry and dance, among other artistic mediums for Maple Ridge artists as well. “We, as a community, and I have always encouraged our residents to take their Pitt Meadows dollars and go and spend them and enjoy a performance at The ACT and so I think that kind of synergy would continue,” said Becker. He wants to expand art in public places. “The pop-up art shows have been very popular. Maybe an art in the park piece in conjunction with Pitt Meadows Day. There’s all sorts of exciting, inclusive and vibrant things that we can do that have never been done before in Pitt Meadows,” he said, noting that they would come at a cost and scale that would be possible within the city’s budget. As part of the city’s arts, culture and heri-
Pitt Meadows Day Parade draws crowd. tage initiatives, Sigmund is also looking at how to integrate expansion and community awareness of iconic cultural and heritage facilities in the community such as the Pitt Meadows Museum. More connectivity between bike paths and pedestrian walkways are also in the works for 2018. Part of the plan would be included in the planning of the Onni business park phases three and four. Becker notes that there are already significant improvements with pathway connectivity as part of the city’s policy relating to new road works and repaving. “We make sure that there’s at least one bike
lane if not two on our roads, particularly in the more rural sections for safety purposes,” said Becker. “And it’s just nice to get into some of the back roads in Pitt Meadows. It’s a fantastic way to see the community, but the roads were not designed for bicycles when they were first put in 50 years ago,” he said. All of these improvements he notes are “low hanging budget fruit.” “Staff and community input is really starting to embrace the new opportunity as we resource these ourselves now,” added Becker about the new initiatives.
Condos and townhouses come into their own By Ronda Payne
he seller’s market may have slowed in detached homes, but persists in smaller residential properties.
Even in suburban Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, housing prices have risen dramatically over the past few years. This increase in pricing has pushed condos and townhouses into a prime spot in the market that isn’t showing any signs of slowing yet. Jill Oudil, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, noted there is a lot of pent-up demand for both the condo and townhome category. “We are still seeing multiple offers in those categories,” she said. “Hopefully, more supply will increase in the condo sector, given the [condo] housing starts, which could affect the balance in supply and demand.” This increase in availability could potentially ease the pressure in condos and townhouses seen over the past year, perhaps making it easier for buyers to get into the market. Data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver shows that while overall residential housing sales spiked in the first half of 2016, the spike repeated in 2017 for both condos and townhouses. Single detached homes in Maple Ridge had a benchmark price of $811,500 in October 2017 which is a 13.6-per-cent increase over the previous year and a whopping 74.2-percent increase over prices five years earlier. For townhouses and condos, the story is even more dramatic. The townhouse bench-
mark was $529,700, representing a 26.4-percent increase over the previous year, and 77.9 per cent over five years prior; Condos benchmarked at $269,300, a 31.1-per-cent increase from the previous year and 48.5 per cent over five years previous. In Pitt Meadows, the picture is much the same with a single-detached home benchmark of $879,200 which is a 10.9-per-cent increase over the previous year and 76 per cent more than five years prior. For townhomes, the benchmark price was $574,100, representing a 21- per-cent rise from the prior year and 78.2 per cent over five years previous while condos benchmarked at $403,700 and had a 32-per-cent increase over 2016, 81.3 per cent higher than five years before. “Prices certainly have risen,” Oudil noted. “And so did the amount of sales from a year ago.” In terms of housing sales, the lion’s share is still in detached homes at 1,286 properties sold in both regions combined from January to October 2017, a decline in volume from 2016’s number of 1,766. However, if townhome and condo sales are combined, they begin to come close to the volume of detached home sales. Townhome sales from January to October 2017 were 590, down slightly from the previous year’s period of 683 sales; while condo
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sales increased to 606 for the 2017 period over 553 in the 2016 timeframe. Debbie Sheppard, with Re/max Lifestyles Realty, says condos and townhouses are seeing multiple offers because Housing market is hot. of the affordability of these properties. the price ranges are lower, certainly lower “They’ve just really jumped up significantthan East Van. Prices have risen a lot in ly,” she said of the two categories. “They’re Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows and if it selling like hotcakes.” continues, it may not seem as relevant. The Oudil noted that the detached market could gap [between other regions’ pricing and be described as more balanced. Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows’s pricing] used “It’s a strong, solid market, it’s just a more to feel bigger. The gap is slightly narrowing balanced market. It makes the buyer and the compared to the past.” seller at a more even scale for negotiating Oudil noted that no one can say exactly offers,” she said. “It still falls in the category what the residential housing market will do, of a balanced bucket between the supply but felt that at least in the short term, condo and demand. Quite a different scenario than and townhouse supply and demand will in the condo and townhome market.” continue to see pressure. Sheppard agrees that the balanced market She noted somewhat philosophically that it evens things out in detached home sales. doesn’t matter which category a home-own“It’s turning into a nicer market. It’s not as er is buying into. crazy as it was. In the spring it was intense, “It’s an excellent investment and it’s someso many multiple offers,” she said. “It’s turn- thing every single person needs for their ing a little bit nicer for the buyers.” whole entire life,” she said. This slight slow-down has seen standard While Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows conditions come back to offers such as housing prices may still be more affordable home inspections and financing. than other regions in the Lower Mainland, “As prices rise, people tend to move towards the gap is closing and the most affordable the suburbs more,” said Oudil. “They feel properties are still selling quickly.
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Pitt Meadows has to make good use of land it has left By Neil Corbett
itt Meadows won’t be seeing a population explosion, and unlike its neighbours, Maple Ridge and Coquitlam, it was never planned to.
Those neighbouring cities have been designated as population growth centres in Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy, explained Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker. He points out that agricultural land makes up 85 per cent of his city’s land inventory. Growth in Pitt Meadows is boxed in by rivers and farmland. The latter cannot be developed easily, protected as it is by the Agricultural Land Commission, and preserved for future food production. That’s the bird’s eye view of the city, and the numbers verify the city’s challenges. According to Canada’s 2016 census, Pitt Meadows has been growing, but slower than the rest of the region. National census data pegged the population at 18,600 people in 2016, which was up from 17,700 in 2011. There are 7,356 dwellings in the city. That’s a respectable population growth of 4.7 per cent, which is close to the national growth rate of five per cent over the period. But this is B.C., where growth is at 5.6 per cent provincewide, and Metro Vancouver as a whole is 6.5 per cent. Fast-growing Maple Ridge jumped by 8.2 per cent over the same time period. The construction of the Golden Ears Bridge has linked Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to the rest of the Lower Mainland like never before, and Metro predicted the result would be 25,000 new residents in the two cities.
But building permit numbers reflect that there is not a lot of residential development in Pitt Meadows. In 2007, there were 253 building permits issued, and $350,000 worth of fees collected by the city. That dropped to 147 permits in 2012, and $263,000 collected in fees. In 2017, the city is on schedule to issue 114 building permits by the end of the year, and collect $241,00 in fees. Still, growth is coming to Pitt Meadows, and Metro’s projections see the city having 22,000 residents by the year 2031, and 23,500 by 2041. A big chunk of that growth is scheduled to arrive in coming years, as the last big residential development in the city is now being sold. Nature’s Walk, formerly known as Sutton Place, is a townhouse development by Onni in the South Bonson neighbourhood that will bring 220 three- and four-bedroom units to the area. Becker said while that brings close to 700 or 800 new residents, there is no zoning for new apartment projects in the city, although a third tower is planned on the Solaris at Meadows Gate site on Harris Road. The two existing 10-storey buildings were built in 2010, and have 144 units that are one- twoand three-bedroom condos. The balance of the new housing for population growth will come from infill housing. In essence, these projects take large residen-
Pitt Meadows growing slowly. tial lots with a single home, and create more housing on them. “Land was so cheap 20 or 30 years ago that people sprawled out,” explained Becker. “We want to see densification, particularly along transit routes.” These projects see duplexes created on single lots, or lots redeveloped so that one or two houses become three or four. Coun. Bill Dingwall said past councils have looked at infill as a way to densify the community, but he believes this should be revisited in the upcoming official community plan review, and in his view should be limited to transit routes. He said new multi-unit houses, or “monster homes” look out of place alongside more traditional housing stock, and the city shouldn’t be relaxing setbacks or allowing other variances that will create crowded neighbourhoods. “How big do we really want to be?” he asks. Dingwall said the city should look at population growth potential in land Onni
currently has earmarked for its Golden Ears Business Park. The councillor would rather see the fourth phase of the South Bonson industrial park become a seniors facility in the mould of The Wesbrooke, which he calls “a glowing example of how you can do things right.” Becker said there is still potential for residential development at the northeast corner of the intersection of the Lougheed Highway and Harris Road. It was slated for commercial development, but that may no longer be a need the developers see, given other commercial developments in Pitt Meadows and neighbouring communities. The site would be good for any land use, said Becker, who calls it “development stem cell” for Pitt Meadows. There may be an argument to build towers there, he said, but that will be up to developers. “We can’t tell the market what it wants.”
Pitt Meadows Airport Taking Off By Neil Corbett
he Pitt Meadows Regional Airport has a renovated runway, is getting a new control tower and is run by a new board that is optimistic about turning it into an economic boon for both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. “We’re in a great position,” asserts airport CEO Elvio Peccia. “We have great potential here, with the Onni development (Golden Ears Business Park) and growth in both communities.” The new control Nav Canada control tower will be six storeys high, and replace aging infrastructure, said Peccia. It will have better sight lines and up-to-date equipment. The existing tower, which is almost 50 years old, will be torn down, and the new one is scheduled to open in the mid summer. “Esthetically it’s fantastic,” said Peccia. “And it shows confidence that this is a good airport, and that people like Nav Canada are invested.” The runway improvement project is complete, and Peccia said it has more than met expectations. “It’s fantastic. We’re getting great feedback from our local pilots, and visiting pilots as well.” The runway has gone from 4,700 to 5,000 feet in length, has taxiways expanded, and
the lighting upgraded, at a cost of $2.2 million. He said the new LED lights along the runway are both brighter – having taken the lighting from low to medium intensity, and more energy efficient. The runway being extended by 300 feet, can allow larger aircraft to land in Pitt Meadows. So now, a 70-passenger aircraft, like the type that offer flights from Vancouver International Airport to places like Kelowna or Prince George, could fly out of Pitt Meadows. Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker added that a new governance model also has the airport cleared for takeoff. The board is in a period of transition, and is being run by a board made up of three members of Pitt Meadows council and three from Maple Ridge council. “We work very well together and I’m very pleased,” he said. This interim board will ultimately be replaced by one made up of four appointees
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from each city. The board is in the process of creating an official airport plan, and will soon get into a more detailed business plan. He said the bylaws of the society make it clear that the land is to be developed as an airport, and if not, the federal government could take ownership of it back from the Pitt Meadows Airport Society. Despite the complaints of some neighbours about aircraft noise, the airport will not be left to languish. Becker said the Pitt Meadows councillors are sensitive to the concerns of neighbours. “And councillors from Maple Ridge respect that we have to manage those concerns,” he said. The board recently tabled comments from the airport advisory committee about future plans for the facility, and those are being reviewed by both city councils. The board will take those comments and use them in creating a future vision for the airport. “It’s up in the air,” said Becker.
New control tower underway. “Bad pun intended.” He added, “The airport is an economic engine for the City of Pitt Meadows and both communities.” Peccia said it will be his job to put the board’s plans to work. There are developers who are already interested in the 700-acre site. Earlier this year, the Justice Institute of BC announced that it would be adding new buildings to its driver training facilities for emergency responders, including classrooms, offices and a lunchroom. “It’s a road map to where we are going to go,” said Peccia. “Both councils want it to be an economic generator.” YPK pays about $60,000 per year in taxes to Pitt Meadows, and the businesses on site bring this total to $500,000 per year. There are 340 jobs there, and the average salary is $54,000, according to an economic impact study by Intervistas Consulting Group. The study pegs its total economic impact to be 590 jobs, generating $27 million in household income.
Condo prices double in Maple Ridge, buildings selling out in days By Phil Melnychuk
he tsunami of development and real estate activity has rolled in from Vancouver and crashed on to the shores of Maple Ridge. The planning and building department in Maple Ridge city hall can attest to this, as does the current price per square foot for new condos, essentially doubling in the past five years. “Never seen this,” said Chuck Goddard, manager of development and environmental services with the city. “It’s new for us.” The new interest means house hunters are buying places before they’re even built. Last August, a 39-unit condo building being buiit by Falcon Homes between Haney Place and Valley Fair malls, sold out in two days. Goddard said the price per square foot for a condo in Maple Ridge five years ago was $250. It’s now $500. Condo prices have jumped more than 20 per cent in Maple Ridge the last year. “Everything is selling out even before it gets built here.” The difference in the value of the building
permits shows the building boom. In 2012, the total value of new construction of single family homes in Maple Ridge was $51.9 million. In 2016, that rose to $122 million. The value of new townhouse construction jumped from $4.6 million in 2012, to $35 million in 2016. Much of the growth takes place either in the suburbs of Maple Ridge or the downtown, which has been the focus of intense planning in the last decade. In 2014, Maple Ridge approved a town centre area plan that will guide growth in the central area. It was based on SmartGrowth planning principles and a concept plan of pedestrian-friendly, eco-smart building and densification from a decade ago, that followed the premise that a greater population density creates a more vibrant downtown. It was the first such plan to guide development in B.C. Goddard said the town centre area plan
Condos are selling quickly. Meantime, there’s still room for single family homes in Silver Valley where only one of three hamlets is nearing build out. All the activity is keeping staff at city hall planning and building department hopping. Every meeting sees inch-think agenda packages that requires staff and councillors to read, report on and vote on. “I’ve got 22 reports going on the council agenda, Nov. 14. I mean it’s just crazy,” Goddard said. It’s been like that since June with at least a dozen development applications every two weeks. “When you look at the amount of work on the agenda, it’s getting very challenging. And I’ve never seen those.” Interest is also spreading out to the 203rd Street or Hammond areas which is drawing Continued on page B8
remains in place and is being fulfilled, although it takes time and remains a work in progress. That plan calls for a total population in the downtown of 21,750 by 2021. Maple Ridge’s total current population is about 82,000. But Maple Ridge’s urban streetscape changes won’t end there. The area between the downtown and west Maple Ridge, along the Lougheed Highway and Dewdney Trunk Road axis, also would be prime for more development. A B-line bus service that connects downtown Maple Ridge to the new SkyTrain line in Coquitlam begins service in 2019. Goddard says he sees the area redeveloping to a higher density such as townhouses. “I think in the future, these major transportation routes are … going to be coming under more pressure for higher density.”
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some multi-family developments. In the meantime, some major projects wait in the wings, such as Polygon’s plans for 350 homes on Lougheed Highway, just outside the downtown, near Kanaka Way. Work should start on that this summer. Another 30 townhomes are proposed for some property next to that project. Another proposal to build four condo towers on seven acres on the corner of Dewdney Trunk Road and 224th Street has been reactivated and includes redevelopment of Haney Plaza and could start within two years.
The three condo towers proposed for just two blocks west of that on Edge Street has been extended and remains active. Currently, about 50 residential building projects are underway or have been applied for in the central area. And pocket developments are popping up in Port Haney on smaller lots. Three projects are underway near 224th Street, south of Lougheed Highway. Coun. Bob Masse said Maple Ridge is experiencing the same growth as the rest of Metro Vancouver. “We’re one of the high-growth areas,” he concludes.
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Brandi and Kevin Fulton opened a brew pub. Sometimes, a little help goes a long way. Providing some cash to small businesses can be a huge help to revitalizing Maple Ridge’s central area, the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association has learned. For the last nine years, the BIA has operated its facade improvement project where it gives out a total of $50,000 annually in grants to downtown businesses. The grants vary in size and are to be used to help
businesses spruce up their store fronts, such as by helping with the costs of awnings or entrances, or just putting on a fresh coat of paint. “It really has made a huge difference,” said Ineke Boekhorst, executive-director with the BIA. Even a small grant can mean the difference between a business proceeding with a spruce up or letting it languish. Continued on page B10
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Continued from page B8 Some grants can be as small as a few hundred dollars – or up to $16,000 – as was the case this year with Jimmy’s Lunch Box on Lougheed Highway. That grant helped with a major renovation to that building, which now has new owners running the new business. Boekhorst said grants are awarded by keeping in mind what renovation projects would have the greatest impact on improving the downtown streetscape. Neverthless, some businesses proceed with renovations without such grants, such as the total overhaul now underway at the Bella Vita restaurant building across Lougheed Highway. So far, in the nine years since the program began, the BIA has dished out 88 grants to small businesses. “It’s an incentive for them to do something,” Boekhorst added. Some of the grants that went to previous projects included Haney Builders Supplies and Fuller Watson Brand Scource Home Furnishings, all part of larger renos to those stores. By offering the incentives, business owners and property owners have spent almost $5 million in improving storefronts in the downtown in the nine years of the program.
The BIA also offers security and graffiti removal to keep the downtown presentable. “Through all those preventable measures we have really cleaned up the downtown.” Silver Valley Brewing recently opened on 224th Street and received a small facade improvement grant which allowed it to put a carved wooden logo atop a new awning, along with a fresh coat of paint. “For them, that little bit of money made a big difference,” Boekhorst said. Kevin Fulton, with Silver Valley, said that everything helps. The process of renovating their space and getting fire, health, liquor distribution branch, city and Revenue Canada permits took a year and a half. The pub opened in September and Fulton says the high-traffic area is working out. His pub complements Chameleon Restaurant because diners there can cross the street to visit his pub either before or after dinner. Next door, Cremino Gelato and Caffe has made a sorbet using one its beers. Fulton has lived downtown for five years and noticed a gradual improvement in the street scene. He added that more activities are drawing people to the downtown. And more restaurants are showing that there can be a nightlife.
Store fronts improving in downtown. “There’s stuff going on after six o ‘clock in the downtown core. I think that’s the last piece of the puzzle to kind of really get it revitalized. You can’t have a downtown core that only operates during day times. The nightlife thing is kind of the last piece of the puzzle. I think it’s only going to get better.” Boekhorst said that new condo towers are going to bring people to the area, such as
the four towers proposed for Dewdney Trunk Road and 224th Street. That will change the look of the downtown, she said. “The density in our downtown is increasing, because there’s so much construction going on, so much residential. We certainly have had quite an increase in density in the downtown.”
The Difference a Year Makes By Ronda Payne
he City of Pitt Meadows has taken community consultation to heart in the creation of programs and services.
This November saw the City of Pitt Meadows officially launch its own parks and recreation department. Some changes are still to come, but overall, residents have embraced the new operation, especially since they were asked for input right from the beginning. Community involvement has been positive, according to Kate Zanon, director of community and cultural services with the City of Pitt Meadows. “We really listened to the customers over the last year, asked for their feedback,” she explained. The Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre has what Zanon described as a state-of-theart fitness centre and part of the information gathering process included checking the usage of equipment. The outcome is eight new highly-used pieces to be added this year. “As a result of listening to the customers and the new equipment, we’ve seen up to a 20-per-cent increase in activity at the fitness centre,” she noted. Diane Chamberlain, manager of recreation with Pitt Meadows, said in the first two months after separating recreation services from Maple Ridge, the city took a status-quo and information gathering approach to learn what the community wanted. “We maintained what was already existing and then started working with the community right away,” she said. “During our first two months we were able to do a lot of surveys and talk to customers to see what it is they want, additionally we went out in the summertime… and spoke to both cus-
tomers and non-customers. We can really understand more about the needs of the Pitt Meadows’ residents and the Pitt Meadows active users.” The community consultation process won’t stop either, with the city undertaking its first parks and recreation master plan in the fall of 2018. “This will be our first chance to do a master plan that’s specific to Pitt Meadows and we’re really hoping through that process we’ll have some great community engagement consultations and learn a lot more about the community’s wishes for recreation and park services going forward so we can continue to customize the programming activities we already have and learn more about where the community’s priorities are,” Zanon said. “Although we’ve been doing outreach since Pitt Meadows took over the services, this is a nice comprehensive way to get a really broad set of community responses.” Chamberlain said the process has made the transition of recreation services to Pitt Meadows successful in the eyes of customers. “They feel like because there’s regular staff here specifically in Pitt Meadows, they’re being heard more and are able to have more impact on changes and see changes happen quicker as well,” she noted. “In some cases, we are able to provide a higher level of service than we were previously providing because we’re able to work with our existing staff pool in a broader way.” This means residents see the same staff faces in different locations. An employee working
B10 MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2017
New sports fields planned. at an afterschool program can later work at the youth lounge and deliver a more consistent experience to users. “The Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre is probably the largest hub,” Zanon said. “That’s where the fitness centre is and a variety of programming like the youth lounge. There is also some programming out of the Heritage Hall and also out of South Bonson Community Centre.” Plus, specific programs take place at the Pitt Meadows Arena and, in summer months, the outdoor pool. “We launched our first programming guide with the programming that started in January of this year,” Chamberlain said. “Each guide continued to evolve and include more information for the community.” Another growing area is the partnership with School District 42 to bring more programs to elementary school students “We can take after-school programming for an hour or two a day, it could be anything from arts to recreation programs,” Chamberlain said. “And, we’re also looking at providing during-school hours, skating clubs.” Park services are still going through an adjustment as services are not fully under the city’s portfolio yet, but Zanon sees opportunities already.
“[We] have had a chance to look at some of the different services,” she noted. “We’re starting to see opportunities.” The other shift to come is in cultural services with increased arts and culture programming and the launch of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery in the former tourism office on Harris Road at McMyn before the end of 2017. “The city’s first independent culture plan will be coming out before year end,” added Zannon.
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The proposed location for a new recreation complex near Thomas Haney Secondary. It could be cutting it close. It could be that it won’t be until the new year when Maple Ridge taxpayers decide what new rec projects they want and how much they want to pay. Will it be a new arena at Planet Ice? What about a new, outdoor swimming pool, so Maple Ridge residents have a place to cool down on those hot summer nights? The city’s alternative approval process that will determine which project will proceed, is currently before the B.C. municipal inspector, who will decide if the city’s borrowing plans and public assent process pass muster. Maple Ridge forwarded a list of projects, for which the city will borrow, to the B.C. government earlier this fall. Taxpayers will decide separately on whether they want the city to borrow for each project. They’ll have 30 days to sign a sheet in city hall or other municipal buildings to vote against each project. If more than 10 per cent of taxpayers vote against a project by signing the sheets, that project will be cancelled or move to a direct vote. If fewer than 10 per cent vote against, the project will proceed.
Legislative services manager Laurie Darcus said if she hasn’t heard by the third week of November, the alternative approval process will be delayed until the new year. Coun. Bob Masse agreed the process is dragging on. He was particularly surprised that the $9-million renovation of the aging Maple Ridge Leisure Centre has to be re-intendered, repeating the process of having companies bid on the project. That will delay the beginning of wholesale renovations until March of 2018, including a new lobby, pool decks and change rooms, which will take more than a year to complete. But in any event, the public still has to decide whether it supports the city borrowing the remaining $3.5 million to complete the leisure centre renovations. So far, there’s no word from the provincial government on when it will approve the city’s alternative approval process. In the meantime, the projects have to be explained so the public can make an informed deciContinued on page B14
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urrently, our five dealerships sell over 5,000 new and used vehicles every year while over 200 employees work within the group. We support local customers, local non-profits and local employees and their families and have for generations. Our results are based on a long-term marketing and brand building strategy. “It’s good to be diversified with different brands. That’s all part of it,” Scott Jones says. “We’re very aggressive in our marketing, not only tactically which is pricing and payments, but also with brand and image building.”
says. By combining administration and finance centres through group ownership, our costs can be cut and economies of scale are achieved which benefits our customers and staff. “Most definitely, that is the trend,” says Scott. “There are fewer and fewer standalone operators and more and more groups taking over.” That might seem to reduce competition, but Scott says sales managers within the same group compete for each sale while for the final reality check, there are at least 10 separately owned dealerships for each make in the Lower Mainland.
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“It’s good when you have more than one type of vehicle. I call it friendly competition. It’s very tough competing in this day and age within the business climate that we’re in right now.” The Internet
has changed how the automotive industry works. No longer do shoppers rely on a car salesman to explain the features. While most car shoppers still want to test drive a new vehicle, many do all of their homework online first, accomplishing about 80 to 90 per cent of the buying process, Scott says. “That’s becoming more and more important on a daily basis. ” Michelle Jones-Ruppel, who runs the Ford Lincoln and Nissan stores, agrees – the Internet has changed the car business, “with the amount of knowledge our customers can get, which I’m not opposed to they already have a handle on what they’re looking for. We’re here to fill that need and to continue servicing that vehicle until they’re ready for the next one!”
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19950 Lougheed Hwy. Pitt Meadows MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2017 B13
Continued from page B11 sion, Masse said. “By the middle of this month, if we don’t have a clear picture, the last thing we want to do is put a question to the public … (at a) time (when) that’s substantially into the Christmas month when people are totally not thinking about it. It would just not go well.” The projects, and their approximate costs, which people will be able to vote against are: • $25 million – new arena at Planet Ice; • $11.5 million – outdoor swimming pool • $10 million – new Albion Community Centre, 104th Avenue; • $10 million – two artificial sports fields at Thomas Haney secondary; • $4.5 million – two new mini-parks or gathering places in Silver Valley, and upgrades to the Hammond Community Centre and Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club; • $3.5 million – balance of renovations to Maple Ridge Leisure Centre for new changerooms and lobby; • $2.5 million – upgrading the Maple Ridge secondary track. Masse said the Albion community centre design is going well, as are the designs for the new artificial sports fields on the grounds of Thomas Haney secondary. The community centre will be built in concert with the new Albion elementary school on 104th Avenue recently announced by the provincial government. He doubted that people would oppose that project. The city is already building, under a separate process, two new artificial sports fields, the Karina LeBlanc Field at Merkley Park and another artificial field at Golden Ears
Mayor Nicole Read announces new Karina Leblanc Field. elementary. Masse agreed that if the new recreation projects are ever constructed, they could serve as a legacy of the current council, which has a year left in its term. But he hasn’t heard many comments from the public about the delay, apart from the ongoing debate about whether to build an outdoor pool instead of an indoor pool. The
outdoor pool is proposed for a location on 232nd Street near the Maple Ridge Lawn Bowling Club. Masse said things just take time, usually more than people anticipated. But he expects nothing will start until the new year. “Until we get the referendum results, that could change everything. We want (public) approval anyhow.”
But he likes the mix of projects. “We all want a whole bunch of good things but as you know, nobody wants to pay for it. That’s where the referendum process comes in.” It just a time-consuming process, he added. “Lots of work to do, for sure.”
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Looking for solutions to grow business park By Ronda Payne
he lack of available space in business parks and light industrial zones has Maple Ridge creating more options. In the Lower Mainland, when it comes to space for business, there are no easy answers – nearly every city is out of space. Maple Ridge is far from immune to this concern with three business parks and all of them full. Unfortunately, the city has a comparatively small amount of land designated for business according to Geoffrey Charters, associate with Colliers International. “Probably around 2.5 million sq. ft. in Maple Ridge, that’s being generous” he estimated. “Port Coquitlam is comparable geographically, but with about 7.25 million. Something has to give if you want these businesses to grow and want the economy to grow.” A little more than a decade ago, the volume of business-based land was enough, but as the community grew, lands were re-zoned and business owners and operators were drawn to the region, business park space and lands were snatched up. Charters pegged current vacancy rates at about 1.7 per cent. “It’s pretty much the lowest it’s ever been,” he said. “It’s really tight.” “There’s an extreme shortage is what it is. I have someone phone me every day and I usually say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you’.” The three business parks in Maple Ridge are: Albion, Kanaka Business Park and Maple Meadows Business Park. Charters believes more space like the Maple Meadows park is needed. Maple Ridge’s 2012 – 2014 Commercial Industrial Strategy estimated the need for 80 additional hectares (200 acres) of business lands by 2040. The city has plans to make land available, according to Bruce Living-
Albion is one area for industry. stone, business retention and expansion officer with the municipality. “One of the city’s key economic development goals is supporting the creation of local, high-value jobs,” he said. “This spring, council approved a plan to re-designate land at the north end of 256th Street and along Lougheed Highway as employment land,” Charters said. The area north on 256th Street has been re-designated as industrial reserve – but one for the long-term. This approximately 278 acres won’t be developed until the gravel resources have been removed, a servicing plan has been developed and there is improved road access. The Lougheed Highway area is to the west and east of the Kwantlen First Nations and has been re-designated industrial in the OCP and rural residential. Charters regularly refers those looking for land in Maple Ridge to Port Coquitlam or Port Kells. He feels it will take a few years to
get the designated land base to an adequate size. “Probably a few years to get the buildings up,” he said. “Light industrial, that’s what everyone needs. We need more business parks. It’s not going to happen in a year – it’s a few years out.” Challenges in finding space aside, some business owners have managed to find what they need to grow and thrive. Tim Brown, owner of Brikers - a heavy equipment parts business – found the perfect site when space was available in the Kanaka Park. He recently moved his business to the new 5.5acre site. “We buy heavy equipment and we bring it up here into Kanaka and we dismantle heavy equipment and we rebuild all major components of heavy equipment,” Brown explained. At 18 years in business, Brikers experienced considerable growth in the previous five
Hospital Foundation takes tireless aim at a moving target
years and needed to expand from the former 2.5-acre lot. Brown found four adjacent parcels in the Kanaka park and set out to have it fit the company’s needs. “We bought our property early in Kanaka’s life. It’s been here and developed for over 10 years,” he explained. “Tech put up our buildings. I’m a picky guy and a guy who has a little bit of knowledge about building. This company was absolutely incredible. The three buildings that we’ve got… add up to about 43,000 square feet.” Brown feels the new site will allow Brikers to grow to about two or three times its current size. He’s thrilled with the site, but recognizes the challenges other business have. “This is the perfect spot for what we do. This is a great place,” he said of the region his business is now set up in. “I would encourage Maple Ridge to continue to grow it. I think it’s good for Maple Ridge.”
By Timothy Collins
t’s almost certain that, if you live in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, you are aware of the existence of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation. It’s almost certain that if you live in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows you are aware of the existence of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation. What you may not appreciate is that, without the work of the foundation, the level of health care in the region would not be what it is today. Throughout it’s 33-year history, the foundation has worked to raise funds, not only for the hospital, but for a variety of community services and partnerships that have improved the availability of health care in the community and forestalled actions that would otherwise have negatively impacted Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. “A few years back, there was some discus-
sion about taking the pediatric care unit out of the hospital and centralizing that service in Chilliwack. The foundation stepped up and, with the funds we were able to raise some matching funding, that unit was preserved in our hospital and expanded and improved,” said Ron Antalek, the chair of the hospital foundation. “The truth is that, without the foundation’s work, Maple Ridge simply wouldn’t have the level of health care that we currently enjoy within the community. We have a combined population of about 100,000 and it’s amazing that we have access to the fine medical care we have. And it’s all due to the generosity of our donors, the partnerships we’ve managed to form and the tireless work
Laura Butler (right) is the executive director of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation. (Neil) of our volunteers.” One demonstration of that community spirit and generosity was evident at the Oct. 14th gala hosted by the foundation. This year, the gala was appropriately dubbed “Enchanted” and it certainly appeared the
community had become enchanted with, not just the event, but the spirit of generosity that lay at its base. It was the 20th year for the annual event and in a single evening, the foundation managed Continued on page B16
MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2017 B15
Continued from page B15 to raise some $230,000, all of which will go to maintaining the excellence in health care to which the community has become accustomed. “We not only raised those funds, but also managed to raise another lump sum, just in the room, to fund a resuscitative infant warmer for the pediatric care unit. The level of generosity was amazing,” said Antalek. But as strong as the community support may be, board and gala organizer committee member (and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News publisher) Lisa Prophet-Craik cautioned against becoming complacent about the success of the foundation’s work. “The level of support in the community is very strong. Amazing, really. We keep seeing increases in attendance and community support at our special events and so on, but we have to remember that this is a moving target. At the same time as we see an increase in the level of community support, we see a corresponding increase in demand for equipment and services,” said Prophet-Craik. “The good news is I’m confident that we’re up to the challenge.” Beyond the Gala, the foundation hosts or is the recipient of funds from a plethora of annual events, including golf tournaments, meat draws, a spin-a-thon (where participants get to improve their own cardio health while raising money for health services), and a 50-50 draw. “As much as the $230,000 raised at the gala was huge, you have to remember that the foundation has pledged to raise $553,000 this year for high priority needs at the hospital. We manage to leverage that money against some matching government funds
so the final impact of the fund raising is multiplied and has an enormous impact,” explained Antalek. The foundation exceeded that amount in the 2016/17 fiscal year with the funds raised topping out at just under $940,000. The specifics of what is purchased with the money is determined by hospital staff, in consultation with foundation representatives. “We meet to talk about what their priorities are, and decide where the money will go. In the past, we’ve funded scopes, lifts, specialized equipment and more. They set the priorities and tell us what they truly need,” said Prophet-Craik. She is also quick to point out that the foundation’s work isn’t limited to the confines of the hospital. “We realize that the community’s health goes beyond equipment and buildings and has to include things like the Youth Wellness Centre or Alouette Addictions. We are concerned with the hospital, of course, but also about the overall health opportunities and services in the community,” observed Prophet-Craik. Antalek agrees with that position wholeheartedly. “My mother worked for many years as a nurse in the community, and I was always inspired by her caring and compassion for the people under her care. When my grandmother required care, the hospital staff was there. So now that I have the opportunity to help give something back to the community by being one of the many supporters and volunteers of the foundation, it feels right and fills me with a great deal of pride and satisfaction.”
Learning from past projects has to be part of process By Timothy Collins
he saga of the $725 million Interior to Mainland transmission line, a project conceived as a way to meet the ever-growing electrical needs of Metro Vancouver has had anything but a smooth ride, and now that it is completed, critics say that the process should be viewed as instructive to BC Hydro when they consider other projects.
The problems with the 247-kilometre Interior to Lower Mainland portion of the line were almost to numerous to list, but started from the initial announcement of the project. (It should be noted that similar problems also existed for the 344-kilometre Northwest Transmission line from Terrace to Bob Quinn Lake.) In July of 2011 B.C.’s auditor general criticized the Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) for failing to monitor environmental compliance on this and other projects although the EAO went on to hire six positions dedicated to compliance and enforcement roles. At the time, BC Hydro representative Simi
Heer was quoted as saying the utility took their environmental responsibilities very seriously and expect the same from their contractors. But by 2014, BC Hydro had been cited for a plethora of non-compliance problems related to the construction. A lack of sediment controls, a lack of monitoring for invasive plant species, smouldering burn piles during periods when fire prohibitions were in place, an absence of environmental monitoring and oversight, and the discovery of both heavy equipment and felled trees in creeks were all enough to raise the concern of government agencies and environmental groups alike. Continued on page B18
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Continued from page B16 An inspection report in 2012 showed that no provision had made to mitigate erosion and sediment deposit in streams, and described the efforts of the construction companies to prevent environmental damage as “haphazard”. One of those environmental groups was the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS). The Society was formed in 1993 with its initial purpose to negotiate with BC Hydro to increase the Alouette River’s base flow from the Alouette Dam. After that goal was achieved in 1996, the society continued operation with a goal of watershed stewardship. The construction of the lower mainland transmission line put that stewardship to the test. “They (BC Hydro) cut down more trees than they needed to, and a lot of those trees ended up in the river itself. It was pressure that the river didn’t need. And the impact on the creeks in the region was just as bad. That’s where the fry are developing and where nutrient bearing creeks contribute to the eco-system,” said Sophie Smith, communications coordinator for ARMS. “BC Hydro is a crown corporation and have the authority to do what they want to do, but we’d had a relationship with them and should have had the opportunity to be a part of the discussion.” BC Hydro spokesperson, Susie Rieder, did not comment on the issues faced by the project other than to say that it was a difficult project that required an extraordinary level of coordination and consultation. “The transmission line passed through the traditional territory of 60 First Nations and seven Tribal Councils, an unprecedented number of First Nations to engage in
A helicopter places a Hydro Tower. consultation with BC Hydro communicated regularly with First Nations and other stakeholders and many First Nations and businesses benefited from the project,” said Rieder. “For example, Seven Generations Environmental Services, a Mission-based company owned by six First Nations communities provided environmental monitoring and restoration work (on the project).” Rieder went on to note that the project was subject to environmental assessment and received an EA certificate form the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office. Although she acknowledged that some environmental concerns were raised and some mistakes were made, there were always opportunities for interested parties to provide their input.
The now-completed 500 kilo-volt transmission line powered up on Dec. 17, of 2015 and is now delivering electricity from the Columbia and Peace River generating facilities to the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. But the concerns remain and crews continue to work on environmental restoration along the route. “It’s alright now, and the trees are starting to come back, but I hope that Hydro learned from the experience. I know they say that they were concerned about the environment and we’ve had a good relationship with them in the past so I don’t want to be too hard on them, but this project was not done as well as it should have been. I hope they’ve learned some lessons,” said Smith. “I know that our group and others like us
Part of the problem was clear cutting trees. will be there, keeping our eyes and ears open and holding Hydro and others accountable for what they do to our environment.
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A complex project set to give dam another 80 years By Timothy Collins
here was a point in time, back in 2006, when the prospect of upgrading the Ruskin Dam was so daunting that some doubted the wisdom of undertaking the project. The dam, completed in the 1930s was, after all, at least 75 years old at the time and hadn’t seen any substantial improvements since 1950 when a third generating unit was installed at the site. In 2004, BC Hydro undertook a two-year seismic investigation of the site and found that, while the dam was still in remarkably good condition, and had been built to meet the safety requirements of the day, the world’s understanding of how dams perform during earthquakes had substantially improved since the days of former prime minister Mackenzie King. The Ruskin Dam design raised significant concerns about it’s ability to withstand an earthquake and the downstream impact of a failure was simply not acceptable. So the decision was made to proceed with what was anticipated to be an $800-million project; a project that BC Hydro spokesperson, Judy Dobrowolski, at the time said would “keep the dam going for another 80 years.” After several more years of planning, the project was finally put into motion in 2009
when work above the dam was started. At the time, the project’s anticipated completion date was 2016. The main construction work didn’t actually begin, however, until 2012 at which time the completion date had been amended to 2018. Still, if some of the oddities discovered during the past eight years of work on the project are any indication, the BC Hydro boast about the eventual longevity of the dam may not have been far off the mark. Rick Morrison, the project manager for Flatiron-Dragos, the company who performed the demolition of the old piers and gates at the dam, reported in 2016 that the crews were encountering more concrete than they expected, a condition that challenged the 275-ton crane brought in to lift out the 30-ton blocks that had been cut out of the structure in order to accommodate the installation of new gates at the dam. Other portions of the dam were equally challenging, having been built to last. Some of the highlights of the work included the reinforcement of the right and left Continued on page B20
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Continued from page B19 banks, adjacent to the dam. The flows on the right bank, in particular, had been problematic since the dam’s construction, and a specially designed cut-off wall was installed to alleviate that problem. Seismic upgrades were also made to the powerhouse structure and the historic heritage facade was restored. There was no sense in preserving the historic location and not pay attention to that detail, according to BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder. Four of the five new dam spillways were installed, a gargantuan task that had to be repeated four times in a series of installations, and two of the three new generating units at the site were installed. The switch-yard was relocated from its previous location on the roof of the Ruskin powerhouse to the east bank, behind the powerhouse. While stopping short of calling the previous arrangement dangerous, a contractor who worked at the site (and who wished to remain anonymous) described the previous situation as “not the best idea anyone ever had.” In all, said Rieder, the project has been incredibly complex and a testament to all the people who have worked toward its successful completion. Beyond the heavy construction work, project considerations had to take into account the impact of the work on the surrounding community and the environmental concerns generated by a project of this kind. Recreational trails and traffic was disrupted and when the hillside above Wilson Street was disturbed as part of the seismic upgrades, concerns about hillside erosion and surface runoff were critical as the site was above Hayward Lake, which was both a
Ruskin Dam has just been renovated. drinking water source and a salmon habitat. The slope had to be re-contoured and planted with a variety of native trees to mitigate those concerns. In another instance, Hydro’s tree clearing schedule had to be revised in the same area as it had the potential to disrupt re-nesting
eagles during critical breeding times for the birds. A monitoring program was put into place through cooperation with the Kwantlen First Nation. But, according to Rieder, the project is in its final phases with only the commissioning and testing of the last remaining generating
unit and the installation of the final dam spillway gate still to be done. “It’s been an incredibly large and complicated project, but the positive results in terms of public safety and energy efficiency have made it all worthwhile.”
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B20 MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2017
Maple Ridge looks east for development By Tim Fitzgerald
s Albion sees its residential footprint grow, recreational and commercial development is following right behind.
Maple Ridge Coun. Craig Speirs says hopefully the city will be more creative when it comes to development of the area along Lougheed Highway near 240th Street. “I know a mall in Albion has always been a dream for some,” said Speirs, “But I hope as a community, we can be more creative. I think malls have become a thing of the past.” Speirs said any commercial development in the area should focus on more boutique-type shops and centre close to 240th Street. He said despite a growing population in the area, major retailers still won’t be drawn to an area that serves roughly a population of 40,000 to 50,000, when markets like Langley and Coquitlam have access to hundreds of thousands of residents. Speirs said he’s hopeful the region will also use the addition of the new school slated for the area as a way to properly develop residential growth in Albion. “I’m confident we can do this because we have such a strong relationship with the school district,” he said. South Albion elementary will become a reality after the province announced a new
$24.4-million school that will feature 585 student spaces. The facility will be on property the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District owns on 104th Avenue near 240th Street, and will be part of a Neighbourhood Learning and Community Centre, which is a joint venture with the city. Work is expected to start in summer 2018 and finish in fall 2019. The planning process saw an emphasis on arts programs, connecting with the outdoors, and creating community gathering spaces. The school will be nearly 4,700 sq. m and have three kindergarten and 21 elementary classrooms and include a large grass sports field. The new school will be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. It will house a StrongStart space for early learning programs for children and a Neighbourhood Learning Centre to provide community services and programs. The province is funding $20.8 million towards the project and the school district is contributing $3.6 million. Christine Carter, director of planning for
Albion is a fast-growing area. the City of Maple Ridge, said she’s pleased with the progress of the area. She said the addition of the density bonus framework, where developers pay a fee to the city to increase the population density of their projects, will help fund the addition services being added to the region. “What we heard from the residents is that if we were going to develop the area, we needed to attract services as well,” she said. She said the money collected through the density bonus will only be permitted on those lands that are located entirely within the boundaries of the Albion area plan and the urban area boundary. She said the city recognized the only way to attract more commercial development to
the region was to first build up the population of the area. “Commercial is always the last thing to come, but once we start seeing the population grow, then the support will follow,” said Carter. She said another attractive feature of the region has been the announcement of the new school and community centre in Albion. Some of the space for the community centre is designed as a neighbourhood learning centre, and includes a shared art studio, shared music and theatre studio with an small outdoor amphitheater, and an enlarged learning commons and library. The construction project will create an estimated 74 direct jobs.
MAPLE RIDGE & PITT MEADOWS OUTLOOK 2017 B21
Onni development an economic driver By Neil Corbett
s Albion sees its residential footprint grow, recreational and commercial development is following right behind.
New buildings are springing up at the Golden Ears Business Park, and the industrial space is being leased to new businesses before construction is even completed. Ryan Kerr, of Avison Young, leases the light industrial space in the fast-growing business park on behalf of developers Onni. Phase two of the four-phase project is still under construction. In 2017, two new multi-unit buildings have been added, and Young says 380,000 sq. ft. has been leased to businesses. There are three more buildings planned for 2018 – which is still phase two. This will add another 320,000 sq. ft. of industrial park space. It has all been leased already, said Kerr, adding “We’re doing a ton of volume.” He said the demand for this kind of real estate quickly soaks up all the supply, like a sponge. “The industrial market in Metro Vancouver is sub two-per-cent vacancy,” said Kerr. “So we have no space.” Kerr, and Onni, tout the Golden Ears Business Park as a rare opportunity to build literally millions of square feet of build-tosuit, multi-tenant warehouse space. It is lo-
cated in southern Pitt Meadows, on both the north and south sides of Airport Way. The entire site is approximately 200 acres, and at complete buildout will provide close to four million square feet of build-able area. According to estimates, it will cost $450 million to build the entire development, and may take another decade to complete. There are major tenants, such as Danish household retailer Jysk which took a 140,000-sq.-foot warehouse, and Olympia Tiles which added a 175,000 sq.-ft. building. Onni also provides small-bay rentals, with units as small as 4,000 sq. ft. There is a wide array of small businesses – an auto body shop, garage door manufacturer, pharmaceutical company and even a trapeze school. In the buildings completed in 2017, there were 54 small bay units created, and 35 of those house businesses that are new to Pitt Meadows. Others are existing businesses that have relocated for various reasons. Kerr said many of the businesses come from the Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam area, where there is virtually no new warehouse space available. Having new construction to move into is also attractive to businesses, he said. The
Designs for Onni Business Park. removal of tolls on the nearby Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges, a recent announcement by the new NDP government, also helped to make the Pitt Meadows site more attractive to businesses. Kerr said in the leases in phase two, there will be a focus on service-oriented businesses that can serve the park employees, including restaurants, child care and fitness facilities. The value of this project to Pitt Meadows is obvious, Kerr said. The city will collect an estimated $6.4 million in taxes from the completed development, said Onni vice-president Chris Evans, and it will employ 5,000 people. In response to neighbours’ concerns about the neighbourhood potentially looking like old-school industrial parks, Pitt Meadows city council has held Onni to a high design standard for phases three and four. The design is a “campus style” of architecture, with green space, landscaping, loading bays in the back of buildings and other considerations.
Onni has also offered 11 acres of land as an amenity contribution, which will be used for the development of two sports fields, including an eight-lane running track. The value of that property would be an estimated $16 million, according to city hall estimates, if the city had to purchase it on the open market. The site is located just minutes from the Golden Ears Bridge, on both sides of the new Airport Way, between Harris Road and Baynes Road in Pitt Meadows. It offers direct access to the South Fraser Perimeter Road, and Delta Port, Port Metro Vancouver’s largest container terminal, is only 35 minutes away from the business park. The site also offers tenants immediate connection to Vanterm via the Trans-Canada Highway, allowing trucks originating at the park to access the port in just 40 minutes. Onsite amenities that employees can access are to include a gym, restaurant, daycare, and connection to the nearby Pitt River Regional Greenway trail system and parks.
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