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Maple Ridge council approves new plan for parks, rec, and culture

Plan prioritizes arena and indoor aquatic facilities
The City of Maple Ridge has a new Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan. (City of Maple Ridge)

New ice rinks, indoor pools, pickleball courts, and other recreation facilities in Maple Ridge moved a step closer to becoming reality, as the new city council approved its 2023 Parks Recreation and Culture Master Plan.

This new plan will guide services and facilities for the next decade. The politicians also directed city hall staff to create an implementation strategy.

Those decisions were made at a Feb. 28 council meeting where they reviewed a 313 report. It was presented by Stephen Slawuta of RC Strategies – consultants hired in early 2022 to do the work.

Slawuta presented a report identifying the need for two new ice sheets in the city, with one developed in the near term. City hall has already submitted a request to the Agricultural Land Commission to use more farmland at Planet Ice, to build a fourth ice sheet there.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge council plans expansion at Planet Ice

RC Strategies conducted public engagement about the master plan, with some 1,900 contacts. These included resident surveys, user group questionnaires, and online feedback.

They report finding public satisfaction with parks, recreation, and culture are generally strong, but there is a demand for new facilities.

The report calls for a feasibility study for an aquatics facility and a new outdoor stadium venue.

Staff has already started looking for parcels of land that could accommodate new rec facilities.

The plan recommends a hub pickleball facility with 12-plus courts, to handle future growth in the popular sport, with a capacity to host tournaments.

The master plan also recommends a recreation trails strategy and a city trails committee. It says hiking/walking/running is the most regular recreational pursuit in the city, with 80 per cent of households undertaking these activities at least twice per month.

Among the key findings are that the city is growing fast. It notes that over the past decade, Maple Ridge has grown by approximately 15,000 new residents, and it is one of the youngest cities in Metro Vancouver with 18 per cent of the population aged 14 and younger.

The report refers to “suburban sports households” as making up a quarter of the households in the city, and these families place a high value on participation in sports and regular exercise.

The top indoor activities for Maple Ridge households include swimming, gym exercise, library activities, and fitness classes.

“There is strong demand for new facility development in Maple Ridge, however many residents are hesitant to incur increased taxes and user fees to support investment,” the report says.

The top five amenities it says residents would like to see enhanced are:

• Natural trails

• Indoor aquatics facilities

• BBQ and picnic areas

• Campgrounds

• Indoor multi-use facilities

The city manages 247 hectares of park space, and 95 per cent of residents are within a 15-minute walk of a park. There are 47 playgrounds, eight spray parks, six dog off-leash areas, four community gardens, three skate parks, and more. According to the survey, 81 per cent of residents are satisfied with the quality of parks.

The plan addresses most facilities and programs in some manner, from skate parks to community gardens.

Coun. Ahmed Yousef said the report confirms “What we’ve been hearing all along.”

While councillors Korleen Carreras and Onyeka Dozie both expressed a need to see fast progress.

“We need to get moving on it,” said Carreras.

She said the implementation plan is now a big part of the process, and wants to see it proceed. The overall plan needs to come back to council for regular updates, and not get “shelved,” she added.

The new plan replaces a 2010 master plan that was developed alongside Pitt Meadows, when the two cities partnered in providing these services.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows adopts its first independent Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan

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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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