The efforts to keep sprucing up Maple Ridge’s downtown and making it shine will continue, using the leverage of the facade improvement program.
Since the program was launched in 2009, using grants to kickstart facelifts of downtown businesses, about $6 million in improvements have taken place.
This year, eight downtown businesses have lined up another $50,000 in grants.
The details came in an annual update of the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association to Maple Ridge council Tuesday.
Continued marketing and promotion of the downtown will be the BIA’s priority over the next few years.
Marketing the downtown was also a focus this year, with 17 bus benches featuring the “I Get It Downtown Maple Ridge” slogan.
A consumer survey was also conducted, an Easter egg hunt took place, along with a seniors bazaar and fashion show. The courtesy umbrella program, where shoppers were provided free umbrellas, also made it easier to shop in the core area.
A Downtown Art and Heritage Walk brochure was created, as well.
The BIA also recognized the District of Maple Ridge’s contribution to improving downtown. In the past four years, the district has spent $60 million on infrastructure improvements, such as roads and sidewalks.
The downtown, though, could face some competition if and when a shopping mall is built in Albion flats, at 105th Avenue and Lougheed Highway. Maple Ridge district will file an application this year to remove land from the Agricultural Land Reserve east of 105th Avenue.
That’s expected to be approved. If SmartCentres developers can work out a land swap with the district, a mall could be built in Albion flats.
BIA president Phillip Hartwick, however, said he wasn’t “overly concerned” about that development and how it might affect the downtown.