The business cycle continues to turn in Maple Ridge with new stores opening in the downtown area.
In the renovated building that houses the Club 16 gym on Dewdney Trunk Road, Beyond Nutrition and Avo Real Food are opening, along with a new Maple Ridge Dentist office.
Just to east, in the City of Maple Ridge’s business tower, PharmaChoice Maple Ridge is about to open, while across the street, Extra Foods Pharma is under construction.
On 224th Street, a new walk-in medical clinic will open in the 11900-block, while just to the north, there’s a new dental clinic.
Across the street, Silver Valley Brewing still has brown paper in the windows, preparing to open and showcase its local beer.
Along Lougheed Highway, a new building is going into a pocket-sized space near 225th Street. That will house a new Freshii restaurant.
Meanwhile, council is weighing whether it wants to keep contributing to the facade improvement program operated by the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association.
Each year, the BIA offers grants to downtown businesses, to a maximum of $20,000, to help with the costs of improving storefront appearances.
The BIA and the city each chip in $25,000 a year, resulting in $50,000 being available each year to allocate to the beautification projects.
However, in the last five years, only an average annual $21,785 of the city’s money is being allocated for such grants, leaving economic development manager Lino Siracusa to suggest broadening the criteria to entice more stores to participate.
Since the facade improvement program started in 2009, a total of 64 downtown properties or businesses have participated. The BIA numbers show that the incentives have kick started reno projects for downtown businesses.
Since 2009, businesses have tapped into $278,000 in such grants. In return, the downtown businesses have spent $4.8 million on beautification projects.
Council, last week, at its committee meeting, also received a final update on its town centre incentive program that began in 2011.
That offered outright cash upfront incentives and property tax exemptions for a few years in order to encourage new residential construction. That program was limited to commercial-only projects in the last three years.
Since the town centre incentive program began, 115 downtown projects were started, bringing in more than $100 million in construction downtown. Sixty-five per cent of that was for new construction.
All told, the city offered about $3.1 million in incentives which will yield, by 2020, another $1 million every year in new property tax revenue for the city.
However, Siracusa recommends the program be allowed to expire because having a fixed time for such incentives, encouraged developers to expedite their projects.