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Work to start soon on Maple Ridge gaming centre

Howard Blank, vice-president of Great Canadian Gaming, at the site on Lougheed Highway where site preparation and construction of a new road are ongoing. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Howard Blank, vice-president of Great Canadian Gaming, at the site on Lougheed Highway where site preparation and construction of a new road are ongoing.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

After a four-year wait, work starts soon on Maple Ridge’s $16-million Community Gaming Centre at 227th Street and Lougheed Highway.

“People are going to love it – even if you’re not into gambling,” said Howard Blank, with Great Canadian Entertainment Centres.

The company received third reading for its proposal in July 2008, but stalled the project because of market conditions.

Monday, Great Canadian applied for a development permit to allow the 2,550-sq.-metre project to proceed. Maple Ridge council approved sending that to its regular meeting next Tuesday.

A fully licensed restaurant and an outdoor patio with a fireplace fronting the sidewalk will be part of the project, intended to improve the Lougheed Highway streetscape for pedestrians.

A green roof covered with grasses and shrubs will catch storm water runoff and provide heating and cooling, while water gardens and street trees in the 223-space parking lot will do the same. The intent is to ensure that storm water flows off the site the same after development as before, that water filters into the ground and doesn’t wash out fish habitat in creeks during storm surges.

Sitting areas and a small water reflection pool are also included along the outside of the building for pedestrians.

One change from the initial project was removing the underground parking because soil conditions would make that too costly, explained architect Mike Alivojvodic.

But with the revised version, which includes the addition of an overflow parking lot west of 227th Street, “from an architectural perspective, it’s as good, if not better,” Alivojvodic told council.

Work is currently underway on a new road that will extend 227th Street south to Haney Bypass. Great Canadian is paying for that road, about $3 million, as part of the project in addition to giving 1.8 acres of the 7.5-acre site to the District of Maple Ridge for parkland.

Great Canadian is also paying for restoration of the ravine that splits the two parking lots at 227th Street and Lougheed. New bio-filtration ditches, rain gardens and ponds constructed on the site will ensure clean water flows into the old ravine and thus into the tributaries downstream. The areas around these water filtration areas will be landscaped with native plants and trees, including edible berries for birds, areas for small mammals and amphibians and even selections of plants that will attract butterflys.

The original creek bed is also being relocated and restored so it runs parallel to 227th and thus will serve as the headwaters for the stream farther down the hill.

Nature trails will allow people to enjoy restored area. While the stream doesn’t contain fish, Maple Ridge still believes the area can help fish and wildlife, said Rod Stott, environmental planner with the district.

With total construction costs of about $12 million, as well as land acquisition, the project will cost $16 million.

“This use will certainly provide a signature development for this corner as well as create 227th Street going through to Lougheed Highway,” planner Diana Hall told council.

Innovative landscaping will combine sidewalks, street trees, the water feature and restoration of the creek that bisects the property with nature trails that lead to the park area to the south, Hall said in her report.

Indigenous and low-maintenance plants will be used in the landscaping while the structure itself will feature stained concrete, wood and glass.

The building includes a 301-sq.-metre space that can be used as a restaurant or meeting space. More meeting space is located on the second floor, which could also be used for gaming expansion.

The new gaming centre, operated in partnership with the Ridge Meadows Bingo Association, will have 150 slot machines, half more again than the current Haney Bingo Plex on 224th Street. The district gets 10 per cent of the revenue from the slot machines.

Work crews are currently doing site preparation such as soil compaction and grading while construction is also underway on the road.

Once council approves the development permit, only a building permit is needed for construction to start, which should happen sometime this spring. The construction process should take about 18 months.

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