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IN OUR VIEW: Outlook: Predictions look promising

Region’s future will be shaped by rapid growth
Provenance townhouses in Maple Ridge. (Neil Corbett/The News)

The Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows News takes stock of the local economy each year with its Outlook pages, which can be found in this edition.

We take a close look at business, industry, residential development, and more.

There are successes to celebrate, such as the renewal at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.

There are also areas that still need attention, like the never-ending quest to develop new employment lands in Maple Ridge.

The fast pace of population growth in Maple Ridge has spurred residential development.

Census data this year pegs the population in Maple Ridge at almost 91,000 people – an increase of nearly 11 per cent compared to the 82,000 population in the 2016 census. The city is growing at twice the national rate.

Pitt Meadows, with 80 per cent farmland, does not have the same opportunity for rapid growth. But its 19,000 population pushes the combined citizenry of Ridge Meadows to 110,000.

Six-storey condominium units are rising like dandelions around Maple Ridge, and there are also significant residential developments – like the coming condo towers with ERA on Dewdney Trunk Road, and a whole neighbourhood of townhouses along the Lougheed Highway in the Provenance development.

The challenges that come with this rapid growth are many.

Staff at School District 42 will apparently need a balaclava and a pistol to get money out of Victoria for new schools in a timely manner.

The only holdup to additional student spaces is the delay of funds flowing from the provincial government, and it means the schools in the district will be bursting at the seams before any more facilities are built.

By 2030, the school district will need almost 900 new spaces for elementary school students.

There are currently plans for new schools in Silver Valley and Albion, and significant expansions at Eric Langton and Harry Hooge schools.

A newly elected school board must announce new capital projects in the coming four years to keep pace.

For a community of 110,000 to not have post-secondary opportunities is obviously a significant disadvantage for graduates, and that will no doubt be the finding of a recently announced needs assessment.

About two-thirds of the local workforce commutes, and the longstanding need for employment lands was a Maple Ridge election issue – both for local employment and to diversify the city’s tax base.

New Mayor Dan Ruimy and his council are well aware of this. Their ability to attract industry, and ultimately deliver on this elusive file, will be a key to the city’s future as a place to live, work, and play.

Taken as a whole, Ridge Meadows benefits from a growing number of new employment opportunities, primarily offered in Pitt Meadows, while also having a variety of new housing options in Maple Ridge, and between the two cities, they enjoy an optimistic shared outlook.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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