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Maple Ridge votes to become city

Maple Ridge is on its way to moving from a district to a city after only three voters objected to the idea.

The question was put to voters through the alternative approval process, in which a proposal can be defeated if more than 10 per cent object.

In Maple Ridge, 5,375 votes would have been required to defeat the idea.

But after the March 17 deadline passed and all the response forms were counted, only three were opposed.

“I think there’s an assumption that we already are [a city],” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said Monday.

People now call municipal hall, city hall, he added.

“It’s a good move. It’s part of progression of the community, growing, evolving, changing.”

With the process completed, council was to vote Tuesday on writing to the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes, asking her to approve the change in status.

It can take six to nine months to make the change, but Daykin hopes that, with the help of local MLAs, the change can be made by Sept. 14, in time for Maple Ridge’s 140th birthday.

In order to register their objection, people had to fill out elector response forms by March 17. If more than 10 per cent of the eligible voters had done so, the district would have been required to hold a referendum.

Making the actual physical switch from district to city will cost about $3,000.

Stationery that show the words “district” will be allowed to run out, before ordering new paper with the words city, while many signs show the words “Maple Ridge” only, meaning no change is necessary.

Economic development manager Sandy Blue said in a report earlier this year that the area will be benefit economically from the change.

“A change in designation to city would help alleviate confusion, particularly for prospective investors and companies …”

For investors overseas or outside the province, “city sounds bigger to them,” Blue added Monday. And becoming a city will eliminate the confusion among some outsiders that the City of Pitt Meadows is larger.

Psychologically, it also helps to be able to say you or your business is from the City of Maple Ridge. “I think there’s a certain perception that you come into your own.”

A municipality must have a population of more than 5,000 to be considered a city and Maple Ridge’s population is now at about 78,000.

Changing to city status also will remove any confusion between the school district and the municipal district.

For Tourism Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows however, the new name won’t make any difference.

“I don’t think it would affect us in any way,” said Kristina Gervais, executive-director. The tourism operation just uses the names Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, rather than get too complicated, she explained.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce president Terry Becker said she hasn’t heard anything from businesses about the new name, or the old, for that matter.

But it’s a step in the right direction, “moving forward.” Being known as a city is much easier to market to people outside the area. “It’s just a good thing, all round.”

Pitt Meadows went through the same process and became a city in 2007.

 

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