New city councils are looking to make waves in the retail business industry in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Under the leadership of recently elected Mayor Nicole MacDonald, the City of Pitt Meadows is in the process of creating a brand new economic development strategic plan.
This document is something that has been in the works for months and will be unveiled during the next meeting of the economic development advisory committee in early December, explained Carolyn Baldridge, manager of communications and community engagement for the city of Pitt Meadows.
“Phase one involved the development of an economic analysis throughout the summer and fall. Business owners were interviewed and residents and businesses were surveyed,” said Baldridge. “Phase two, happening now, includes the development of a comprehensive five-year strategic plan.”
One of the main areas that Pitt Meadows city council hopes to help local retail businesses is by looking into what improvements can be made to the Meadowtown Shopping Centre, West Coast Auto Mall, and Osprey Village.
Harris Road and Osprey Village account for 46 per cent of the city’s retail space, according to Baldridge, with many of the businesses in this area being less than 15 years old.
“Other than Golden Ears Way and Lougheed Highway, Pitt Meadows is generally not a retail destination,” said Baldridge.
They will also continue forward with the expansion of the Golden Ears Business Park, which has been in development for more than a decade. Although this space is largely designed for industrial businesses, Baldridge explained that she expects it to greatly impact the local retail industry.
“The employees and customers who use the business park will bring additional retail spending to the city, particularly in Osprey Village and Harris Road, south of the railway tracks,” she said.
In Maple Ridge, Mayor Dan Ruimy will lead his newly elected council in their quest to greatly expand the amount of retail business options in the city.
“We’ve heard from residents they want more local shopping choices,” said Pardeep Purewal, senior manager of corporate communications and public engagement for the City of Maple Ridge.
“Staff are updating Maple Ridge’s commercial and industrial land strategy. We know our previous 2,400,000 square feet of commercial and retail floor area inventory is insufficient to meet our growing community.”
Purewal specifically identified the need for more hotels in the city, and also listed the high percentage of residents working in other communities as a major problem holding back the local retail industry.
“Maple Ridge has approximately 67 per cent of our workforce commuting outside our borders for work,” she said. “Market trends indicate that consumers will pick up the jug of milk or dry-cleaning nearest to their place of work. Our priority needs to be working to encourage residents to shop in Maple Ridge and provide employment opportunities here at home.”
But, as far as any major business developments in the works, Purewal explained that there are currently none that have been approved. But, she expects that the new council will be very interested in finding more opportunities for big projects in the future.
“To date, the City of Maple Ridge has not received an official application for development of the Haney Place Mall,” said Purewal.
Meanwhile, the proposed plan to develop the Albion Flats into a mix of commercial, business park, and residential uses, is at a standstill while the city attempts to determine possible drainage solutions for the area alongside the Agricultural Land Commission.
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