Workers build the Maple Green Living complex on 232nd Street in Maple Ridge. The city is growing fast, with almost 91,000 population, and the pace of residential development is an issue. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Workers build the Maple Green Living complex on 232nd Street in Maple Ridge. The city is growing fast, with almost 91,000 population, and the pace of residential development is an issue. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Maple Ridge’s exploding population nears 100,000

Critics say infrastructure not keeping pace with development

Maple Ridge is fast closing in on a population of 100,000 residents.

According to Census Canada data released Wednesday, Maple Ridge has reached 90,990 population as of 2021. That’s up from 82,256 during the the 2016 census, which is an increase of 10.6 per cent. The national population rose 5.2 per cent over the same time frame, so Maple Ridge is growing at twice the pace as the rest of Canada.

By comparison, Vancouver grew at a rage of 4.9 per cent, and Surrey 9.7 per cent in the same time frame.

Pitt Meadows continued slow growth, with the census pegging the population at 19,146, which is up 3.1 per cent from 18,573 in 2016.

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden noted the city has almost doubled in size since 1991, when the census had the city at 48,422. It has one of the highest growth rates in the region – and the Lower Mainland is one of the fastest growing regions in Canada.

He said dealing with the impacts of this growth has been a focus of council planning. The city is updating the Strategic Transportation Plan, reviewing the Official Community Plan for the areas along the city’s major transportation corridors, has reviewed the Town Centre Area Plan and is focused on the implementation of the city’s Economic Development Strategy to create new employment lands.

“Our council is focused on the city at 100,000 people, but mindful that decisions made today will impact livability when there are 150,000 people,” said Morden. “We are making decisions that create a community where people can live, work and play within 15 minutes, that comes with density in our urban centre, responsible use of land, complete communities one area at a time.”

He said councillors need to have an eye on sufficient community gathering spaces, more parks and recreation, and even the tree canopy as being important in building a big city responsibly.

“Efficient great transit, post secondary education, critical infrastructure – all key priorities for our future,” said Morden.

READ ALSO: It’s move-in time at affordable housing development in Haney

He noted council has secured a rapid transit corridor from the city’s western border through to Albion, and work is underway to open the bottleneck at the north end of the Golden Ears Bridge. He called these “key ingredients in the building of a 15-minute community, with job number one being jobs at home.”

The city now has 34,254 private dwellings.

The city is also mindful of protecting the natural environment, and growing ‘up’ versus growing ‘out’, which will mean residents have the advantages of urban life – vibrant arts, entertainment and social experiences – with the ability to quickly get to nature to decompress from busy lives, said Morden.

City councillor Gordy Robson said the city is growing too fast, allowing developers to have lots the size of “postage stamps,” and over-densifying zoning. He said it’s not growing to be a “liveable city.”

“There’s going to be no infrastructure, and it’s not going to look good – it’s over-built,” said the former mayor.

Robson said a secondary access into Silver Valley, with a bridge over the Alouette River from 240th Street, needs to be a priority.

“We can’t keep putting people in Silver Valley, with no schools, and only one way out of there,” said Robson.

That sentiment was echoed by Silver Valley resident John Dale. The former realtor sees development proposals in the Fern Crescent area, and doesn’t see the roads to support it.

“The city keeps putting development ahead of infrastructure,” said Dale.

He asserts that Fern Crescent is a winding, narrow route with no sidewalks, and it becomes dangerous during the summer season, as campers, boaters and swimmers rush out to Golden Ears Provincial Park.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge sets property tax increase at 4.4 per cent

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