Two recruits to help Maple Ridge grow

Maple Ridge’s economic advisory commission has two new leaders for the next year, one of whom helped lead the Pelton nursery’s agricultural land exclusion application last fall.

Glenn Ralph, general manager of Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, was named chair of the commission in March and said Maple Ridge is poised for “unprecedented growth.”

He said one of the priorities is to ensure investors know about the opportunities available in Maple Ridge, such as the town centre incentives program, in which the municipality is actually giving cash and tax incentives to build downtown.

Chris Rounding, a chartered accountant, was named vice-chair. Rounding is related to Norm and Maryann Pelton and served as spokesman for the Pelton’s application to remove 62 hectares of land from Agricultural Land Reserve at 203rd Street and Golden Ears Way. The land formerly held the Pelton nursery, which produced seedlings for reforestation.

Neither Rounding nor Mayor Ernie Daykin saw any conflict, however.

While the application was refused last October, the Peltons have a year after in which to resubmit their application.

If the topic of the Pelton lands came up at economic commission, Rounding said he’d excuse himself from any discussion.

“I would certainly think that’s the wiser thing to do. I already mentioned to staff if there’s a potential conflict, they understand I would have to excuse myself from it.”

He pointed out the economic advisory commission has no decision-making powers and can’t forward applications to the ALR, although it does advise Maple Ridge council.

Daykin and Couns. Al Hogarth and Judy Dueck are also on the economic advisory commission.

“We’re not discussing his property. That’s a done deal,” Daykin said.

If the topic did come before the commission, “he would either excuse himself from the discussion or excuse himself from the commission.”

Rounding said the commission is trying to become more proactive in growing the economy in the district.

Maple Ridge’s economic strategy, adopted in 2006, focuses on advanced technology, education and tourism to diversify the tax base and creating more high value local jobs.