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Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows benefit from millions in grants

Combined funding of $22 million comes from provincial surplus
Bob D’Eith is the MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission. (Bob D’Eith/Special to The News)

The cities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will both get big financial boosts from the provincial government this year.

Maple Ridge is receiving $16.6 million, and Pitt Meadows will get $5.4 million as one-time grants under the Growing Communities Fund.

After the province learned it would have a surplus of more than $5 billion for the current fiscal year, it announced the $1 billion fund for the province.

“Maple Ridge and Mission are both growing and need the infrastructure and amenities to support a thriving community,” said Bob D’Eith, MLA for Maple Ridge-Mission. “The Growing Communities Fund will support local governments in British Columbia to invest in their communities and their future.”

He explained the funds are being distributed to 188 municipalities and regional districts in B.C. based on their population sizes and growth. Even the smallest local governments will get a minimum grant of $500,000.

READ ALSO: Health care, housing and grants top B.C.’s 2023-24 Budget Day promises

D’Eith, who sits on treasury board, explained the government stipulated the funds be used for infrastructure, but there are “broad goalposts” for spending. The grants could be used for roads, transit, recreation, or other purposes. The funds must be spent within five years.

“It’s up to the cities to decide what to do with it,” he told The News. “There’s a lot you can do with that amount – we have talked to both city’s mayors, and they are thrilled.”

Local governments are having to meet increased strain on infrastructure and amenities including, roads, transit, water, and electrical systems, as well as community centers, parks, and social services.

“It’s exciting to see our government invest in a strong future for communities,” said Lisa Beare, MLA for Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows. “With this historic investment, we’re ensuring that local governments can continue to provide accessible services that people in their communities need.”

Maple Ridge Mayor Dan Ruimy said council had already identified about nine shovel-ready projects that could benefit from this funding, ranging in price from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions. Now council will have to decide how to allocate the funds. The city just learned about the financial boost on Thursday, and he met with both MLAs who represent Maple Ridge.

“It definitely helps us move some items forward,” said Ruimy. “Sixteen million bucks is a lot of money.

“This is a one-time shot. We need to be wise with what we do.”

There are numerous potential projects. This week, Maple Ridge council approved a Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan that identified a demand for new arenas, an aquatic facility, and pickleball courts.

“We are in the process of finalizing Council’s Strategic Plan and the City’s five-year financial plan, and this grant will help us advance our priorities and capital projects that are essential to sustainable growth in our community,” said Ruimy. “The flexibility the BC Government has provided will allow us to prioritize how these dollars will be invested to address pressing needs in our community.”

Pitt Meadows Mayor Nicole MacDonald said Friday was a good day for her city.

“It’s a great investmnet in the community,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of projects that could use that investment. We’re excited and grateful, and it’s very welcome, and Lisa Beare has been a great advocate for Pitt Meadows.”

D’Eith explained the large government surplus came about due to larger-than-expected federal transfers, and the provincial economy bouncing back faster than expected.

“It’s a unique opportunity to invest in communities around the province,” said D’Eith.

READ ALSO: Rechargeable battery company in Maple Ridge growing up

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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