By Monique Tamminga/Special to The News
There’s a reason Maple Ridge is one of the fastest growing cities in Metro Vancouver.
With its population of 91,222, families are drawn to Maple Ridge for its small-town feel, where neighbours still help neighbours and nature is at your doorstep.
Maple Ridge has the amenities of a big city with the charm of a small town. Here you can enjoy beautiful surroundings, the quaint yet vibrant downtown, community festivals and fairs organized with COVID-19 precautions, and an abundance of parks.
According to the 2016 Census, the average age of a Maple Ridge resident is 40-years-old.
AVERAGE AGE OF A CITIZEN IS 40
That young age speaks to the affordability of real estate in Maple Ridge. In December 2019, the benchmark price for a single-family home in Maple Ridge was $800,000. In Greater Vancouver, the benchmark price is $1.4 million.
The local workforce is more than 46,000 strong with the main industry being retail, office, restaurant, manufacturing, and not-for-profits.
In 2020, Maple Ridge has issued more than 4,600 business licences which is an increase year-after-year, said Wendy Dupley, economic development director for the city of Maple Ridge.
FILM INDUSTRY LOVES MAPLE RIDGE
Maple Ridge has long been a chosen location for the film industry and that has translated into a lot of residents making a living in film, said Dupley.
“In, 2018, $45.5 million was paid in wages to Maple Ridge residents working in the film sector,” said Dupley.
ADDING, UPGRADING AMENITIES A PRIORITY
With a growing population, it’s important to provide amenities for its residents.
“Maple Ridge is all about quality of life,” said Dupley.
The $12-million renovation to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre was completed in February 2020.
Telosky Stadium synthetic fields and fieldhouse was completed in April.
Merkley track upgrade is expected for September, said Dupley.
The much-anticipated construction of the Albion Community Centre got underway in August and will be completed in late 2020, she said.
This facility is co-located with the new c’esqenela Elementary School, and will include a great hall for gatherings and performances, multi-purpose spaces for arts and fitness programming, and space for a child care centre.
A lot of these upgrades were in anticipation of hosting the 2020 BC Summer Games in Maple Ridge, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The Games have been postponed until 2024, said Kathryn Baird, tourism coordinator for Maple Ridge.
Maple Ridge also added to its park space with Beckett Park.
This new park features a small off-leash dog area, a sports court, playground, and scooter track.
One of the things that draws people to Maple Ridge is its proximity to nature.
Maple Ridge has 65 parks including Maple Ridge Park, Golden Ears Provincial Park and Whonnock Lake.
REAL ESTATE SALES STRONG
Even during the pandemic, the real estate market is hot in Maple Ridge.
“Our developers have informed us the market is good. House sales are going well and prices are holding,” said Dupley.
For Mayor Mike Morden, Maple Ridge still has that wow factor that made him move here more than two decades ago.
“We were living near Metrotown and took a drive out to Maple Ridge to look at housing. We just fell in love with it right away. We knew it was just the kind of place we wanted to raise a family,” he said.
The City of Maple Ridge has been proactive to help its citizens and businesses through the pandemic, said Morden.
The city extended the due date for property taxes to Sept. 30.
Council expedited patio approvals at no charge to support the hospitality industry and deployed the new community safety officers into the downtown.
“Right away we started collaborating with senior levels of government, and centralizing our systems to effectively communicate with members of the public and small businesses,” said Morden.
There’s been a lot of innovation and creativity taking place, he added.
“There was a lot of online activity and curbside pick ups to keep businesses operating.”
Morden said he was disappointed with the federal programs that left a lot of self-employed people out.
“The federal government needs to have some measure of screening to make sure those who deserve help get it and don’t fall through the cracks, and those who are taking advantage are stopped.”
PRIORITY MUST BE TO SHOP LOCAL – MAYOR
The key to getting through this pandemic is to shop local and to be kind, said the mayor.
“We need to shop local in the biggest way we can to keep the economy working through and past this pandemic,” he said.
“We all have a personal responsibility to be respectful, too.”
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