City Hall reports the number of business licences in Maple Ridge continues to grow. (The News files)

City Hall reports the number of business licences in Maple Ridge continues to grow. (The News files)

Business growing in Maple Ridge despite pandemic

City hall reports number of business licences still on upward trajectory

In spite of the Coronavirus pandemic, there are more businesses in Maple Ridge than there were last year at this time.

Not a lot more, but the trend remains positive, said Wendy Dupley, director of economic development at city hall.

Business licence renewals were due in January, and returns show slow growth – from 4,533 in 2019, to 4,563 in 2020, and 4,619 in 2021. That’s 56 new business licences despite COVID-19.

“It’s a small number, but it’s trending in the right direction,” said Dupley.

“Given the year that we’ve had, there’s lots of positivity there, and it’s great to see that number continuing to grow.”

There were fears in the business community that some stores would close after the Christmas retail season. While some did – with even a large retailer like Thrifty Foods announcing the closure of its store in Haney Place Mall – other businesses have opened. For example, the construction industry has not been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and businesses in that industry are going strong, she said.

“We’re in a growth market for sure – we’re growing as a community,” said Dupley.

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According to the 2016 census stats there were 46,000 people from Maple Ridge in the work force. In 2020, that number had grown significantly to 52,600, according to Environics Research.

Dupley said the pandemic has definitely had an impact on the local economy, and growth was likely stunted. The national economy shrunk 5.1 per cent in 2020, which is the worst year on record, according to Statistics Canada. B.C. is expected to not entirely recover until part-way through 2022, according to Centre 1 Credit Union.

So there is reason to believe statistics such as business licences and people in the work force would be even higher were it not for the pandemic. Business people are more cautious about expanding or hiring.

“We’ll see that change, as the vaccine rollout starts to happen,” Dupley predicted.

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