Maple Ridge hits the 75k mark, Pitt Meadows grows by 13 per cent

Statistic Canada 2011 census show Maple Ridge’s population is up to 76,052 from 68,949 five years ago

Maple Ridge hits the 75k mark, Pitt Meadows grows by 13 per cent

Maple Ridge’s population jumped 10 per cent in the past five years, cracking the 75,000 population mark.

But there’s lots of growing room and the footprint of the district likely won’t change as Maple Ridge’s population hits the 100,000 mark in a decade or so.

The majority of those newcomers will be housed in the downtown, the Albion area along 240th Street, existing suburbs and Silver Valley, says District of Maple Ridge planning director Christine Carter.

By 2021, the downtown will accommodate 13,000 more people.

“We know we’re going to get a doubling of the population at least in the downtown.”

Carter said there’s still lots of room for growth in the Albion area, as well as Silver Valley.

According to the district’s long-term plan, suburban expansion into Thornhill, the area east of 248th Street, can’t begin until the 100,000 population has been reached and the existing urban area has densified.

The latest figures from Statistics Canada 2011 census show the district’s population is up to 76,052 from 68,949 five years ago.

Carter wasn’t surprised by the 10 per cent increase and pointed out the district grows by about two per cent per year.

Maple Ridge is the 16th largest municipality in B.C. and the 72nd largest across the country. Its population density is 285 people per square kilometre. By comparison, Surrey’s population density is 1,479 and Vancouver’s is 5,249.

Carter said Maple Ridge could hit the 100,000 mark by 2025. By 2040, the population should be approaching 132,000, according to Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy.

But she acknowledges, “at the end of the day, no one really knows.”

Still, previous population projects have proven to be pretty accurate, she added.

According to the census, Pitt Meadows grew at a faster rate than Maple Ridge, seeing a 13-per-cent increase to a present population of 17,736.

Most of that likely took place in the new condo and apartment buildings that have gone up along Harris Road, said Kim Grout, the city’s development services director.

Grout said future population growth will be contained south of Lougheed Highway, largely in the existing urban areas, although there is one special study area which could accommodate more residential.

But the city is approaching its limits to growth.

Its maximum population will be 24,000, and should be reached by 2041, according to Metro Vancouver’s long-term growth plan.

To grow beyond that by expanding into the Agricultural Reserve Lands north of the Lougheed Highway would require unanimous consent of the Metro Vancouver board, she pointed out.

Carter said that population pressures could entirely reverse once the Baby Boom generation dies off in a few decades. Maple Ridge’s population could actually decline, citing a report by Sheltair Group used for preparing the 2006 official community plan.

That report says Maple Ridge’s population could actually drop to 88,000 by 2031 if only the existing urban areas are used.

However, densification of existing areas and expansion into the Thornhill area could see Maple Ridge’s population jump to between 100,000 and 110,000.

The census shows the City of Vancouver’s population grew by four per cent to 603,500. The fastest growth of Canada’s major cities took place in Edmonton and Calgary, which both grew at 12 per cent.

Surrey’s rate of growth was almost double that of Maple Ridge’s, at 18 per cent to 468,000.

More than two-thirds of B.C.’s population gain over the past five years happened within Metro Vancouver, new census numbers show.