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Joint tourism plan for North Fraser

The north side of the Fraser River will see its tourism strength increased next year when Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission launch a combined tourism strategy.

The project will involve developing consistent signage throughout the area and take place over a 12- to 18-month period, a Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training spokesman said Thursday.

Included in the strategy will be an asset inventory, signage audit and development of a regional tourism brand, funded by the ministry.

About 50 people in government and industry met at the Randy Herman centre in Maple Ridge Wednesday, to work on the  strategy, part of the B.C. Jobs Plan pilot project launched a year ago.

“We’ve made some progress with some of the different private projects,” said MLA Marc Dalton.

That happened earlier this year when improvements were made to the Florence Lake Forest Service Road, in the Mission Interpretive Forest, near Zajac Children’s Ranch on Stave Lake near the Maple Ridge-Mission border.

That latest road project cost about $500,000 said Dalton, while adding some campsites in the area at a cost of about $130,000 also will increase the tourism potential.

The provincial government paid for those improvements as part of the pilot project which seeks to identify high job-generating projects that can be started with minimal or no startup cash.

“We want to make it more of a tourism, recreation area for Lower Mainland residents,” Dalton said.

The tourism strategy is one of nine possible job generating projects being considered by Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission as part of Invest North Fraser.

Others being considered are  agri-food distribution hub; a green building technologies centre; a working farm school; a business innovation accelerator; and an eco-industrial park.

Also considered as an economic kickstarter was the recent decision by the B.C. Technology Industry Association to choose Maple Ridge and Surrey as locations for   Centre4Growth program.

The initiative is intended to help high-tech start up companies by providing guidance through a CEO-In-Residence-plan.

In addition to advice from CEOs, entrepreneurs can access growth workshops, private business clinics with experts, introductions to potential investors and customers, as well as an E-Library of resources and tools.

The potential of Pitt Meadows Regional Airport was also discussed.

“It just takes effort and time,” Dalton said of the process.

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