Nine possible quick employment projects for Maple Ridge

How does the 12,000-acre Mission interpretive forest sound as a job generator?

With $3 million in road improvements, some new campgrounds and cooperation with First Nations, the area could give local tourism a boost and tap into the Lower Mainland market of 2.5 million people.

But what about an international education park at Pitt Meadows Regional Airport? Teacher training and more capacity in intellectual and infrastructure could produce more jobs there as well.

Those are just two of the ideas identified during a brainstorming session last December at the Arts Centre Theatre.

Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Mission were chosen for the Regional Economic Development Pilot Project that involved government and business leaders gathering for the day and figuring what can be done to kick start job creation, without throwing bagfuls of money into the mix.

A total of 67 projects were identified in the B.C. Jobs Plan project, then whittled down to nine in the last few weeks by a steering committee involving local economic development offices and MLA Marc Dalton.

The other projects still up for consideration are: an agri-food distribution hub; a green building technologies centre; a working farm school; a business innovation accelerator; and eco-industrial park; improving the Fraser River for transportation and recreation; and a tourism-recreation corridor involving Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Mission that would jointly market and develop tourism and infrastructure. That coincides with the Experience the Fraser project already underway and which envisions recreational trails on both side of the Fraser River from Vancouver to Hope.

Next month, the one or two projects that actually will be followed through will be announced.

Similar projects will be unrolled throughout B.C. by the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

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