The mayor of Maple Ridge says he wants to “switch gears” and focus on economic and industrial growth during his second year in office, while still keeping an eye on steps council has taken in its first one.
Mayor Mike Morden said the city needs to develop other income streams and wants to find ways to draw more industry here.
“We would like to see some extreme focus on the local economy and for jobs and look at industrial and commercial tax building,” and how to create incentives to increase that, Morden said at council’s Nov. 12 meeting.
The city has a great need and taxpayers are fatigued so the city needs to develop other revenue-income streams, he added.
In a year-end report to council, Morden reviewed current changes underway, such as the review of the city’s secondary suites bylaw, and the new Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Area Transport Plan.
TransLink is set to return with final changes to the latter after council asked for Golden Ears Way to be twinned and for the inclusion of a West Coast Express stop at Albion.
Morden also cited improvements at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, (more than $80 million) and the ongoing work of the North Lougheed connector that will see a new road connecting Golden Ears Way to Harris Road, along with improved recreational facilities in Maple Ridge.
“The only thing that will make people really super happy is when our pool finally opens next year,” Morden said of the Leisure Centre.
There also 3,000 more housing units in the approval stage, along with more industrial and commercial space, he added.
Council has recently approved a draft plan for the Albion flats and is conducting a Lougheed Highway corridor study.
As well, Maple Ridge is scheduled to hit a population of 130,000 by 2040, with half of that growth to occur in the downtown.
Morden also noted council’s new density-bonusing program, which collects fees from developers, will be used to purchase land for non-profit housing agencies.
Morden, though, prefaced his remarks by updating what’s consumed council for its first year – homelessness.
He noted that aggressive panhandling has been banned, while the city no longer allows cycling on sidewalks.
Those are part of Maple Ridge’s Community Safety Plan or Community Social Safety Initiative, currently underway.
“That was all about managing aggressive, criminal and disrespectful, as well as unsafe behaviour, ensuring that we reward the positive and we deter the negative,” Morden said.
Closing the Anita Place Tent City was another achievement under the social safety plan.
Council is working on a new recovery home bylaw and trying to get a new treatment centre open.
Morden also reiterated his approach to supportive housing complexes recently opened by B.C. Housing, over local opposition.
He said Maple Ridge has four low-barrier shelters, “in the business of housing that don’t have any rules on site.”
Two of those – Royal Crescent and Garibaldi Ridge – were imposed by the province, he added.
“It is council’s general feeling, that these are not acceptable in the long-term.”
The city and the province are still trying to find a location for a permanent supportive housing complex, which would allow the existing complexes to close.