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‘Maple Ridge needs to tell its story better’

Economic development director to North Vancouver
Economic development manager Lino Siracusa is leaving for the City of North Vancouver. (THE NEWS/files)

Lino Siracusa thought he’d be retiring in Maple Ridge.

But an offer to manage the new tourist development focused on the shipyards and waterfront in the City of North Vancouver was one that he had to take.

Siracusa has been economic development director in Maple Ridge for the last three years, during which he oversaw the completion of the city’s tourism strategy, and modernization of its home-based business bylaws.

“You don’t do anything alone in any municipality. You can lead some of the work, but generally, everybody has to work together,” he said Monday. He defines economic development as creating a community where everyone has the opportunity for economic success.

That requires all city departments, from engineering, to planning, to parks, to be involved, he added.

“If there’s anything I would say I feel proud of, it’s bringing everybody together and creating a culture where everybody understands they have a role in economic development.”

As he departs, he starts his new job in North Vancouver next Monday, Siracusa says there’s one thing that Maple Ridge needs to do better.

“We need to tell people about Maple Ridge.

“Really, there’s a lot that this city can take pride in.”

Maple Ridge is a place where people can afford to buy a home and raise their family, he added.

He points to Squamish, which calls itself the outdoor capital of Canada.

“We offer absolutely everything that they have, and then some. So why aren’t we telling the story better?”

Some of the features Maple Ridge needs in order to grow. include more hotels, better transit and post-secondary education. But those will arrive as the city grows, he said.

“These are services that are crucial in the development of a community. There are services that will come. Our time hasn’t arrived, but they’ll come here.”

He still views Golden Ears Provincial Park, one of the busiest in the province, less than an hour away from downtown Vancouver, as Maple Ridge’s top tourism asset. But he wants some of those thousands of people visiting Golden Ears to also stop in at Maple Ridge’s restaurants and pubs.

He adds leaving Maple Ridge wasn’t easy because he said the city is focused and working on developing its future.

“There’s a lot of really good people working here. There’s a culture of wanting to bring this city to the next level.”

He agrees there are similarities between the mountain communities of Maple Ridge and North Vancouver.

“It was a tough desicion because I really enjoyed working here. The people have been absolutely wonderful, but it was one of those where I thought, at this stage in my career, it’s probably one I should pursue.”

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