No-frills park for Maple Ridge downtown

Green space on fast track, done by November

The plan calls for better landscaping and new sidewalks traversing the vacant lot just north of the Zellers’ parking lot on 224th Street.

The plan calls for better landscaping and new sidewalks traversing the vacant lot just north of the Zellers’ parking lot on 224th Street.

The green space next to Memorial Peace Park will remain that way for a few years yet, and it will look better – soon.

Monday, Maple Ridge council OK’d a plan that calls for better landscaping and new sidewalks traversing the vacant lot just north of the Zellers’ parking lot on 224th Street.

An unloading area for trucks during festival events will be preserved and enhanced, drainage will be improved, trees will be planted along new walkways and there be a display area marked by paving stones in the northeast corner.

Better lighting, power outlets and even water connections will make the space more usable for festival events.

The federal and provincial governments will pay for most of it, about $390,000, which represents what’s left over from infrastructure grants for the Downtown Enhancement Project dollars.

“We need to do this now,” Coun. Michael Morden said at council’s workshop.

See Park, p3

Park from front

“This is amazing, speedy work,” added Coun. Linda King.

Following a May 16 open house, during which 80 per cent of those attending wanted the land kept as park and family space, council told staff to come up with a design to improve it for park use.

With that in place, council approved issuing tenders for the project so work can start in August, after the summer festivals, and be done by Oct. 31, the completion deadline for qualifying for senior government money.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie wanted to know if the plans would interfere with any future uses for the property.

What’s being proposed is a stand-alone design, said chief administrator Jim Rule.

Staff later can later develop other ideas for the spot.

“From our perspective, there’s lots of flexibility down the road,” Rule added.

Ashlie suggested a water fountain be included to encourage people to drink tap water rather than bottled water.

With the senior governments paying most of the tab for infrastructure replacement, the district only will have to pay $70,000 to pay for drainage, irrigation and seeding of the area.

The lot is what remains of the district’s ill-fated town core development program in the 1990s, and where a hotel was supposed to be built.

King was leery of a proposed location for a giant Christmas three, in the north corner next to 224th Street. She suggested waiting a year before locating that.

Coun. Craig Speirs liked the idea of a kids’ spray park near the leisure centre and didn’t want to see any other use of the site other than for park.

“I really love this plan and I think it’s going to work for the future.”

Mayor Ernie Daykin liked the idea of reinforced grass for the eastern edge of the lot so trucks can unload.

“It’s become more of a public celebration site as much as it is a park. It’s going to be well used,” Daykin said.

“I like what it is,” added Coun. Al Hogarth.

“This can serve the community quite well over the next number [five to 10[ of years.”

But he added there eventually could be other community uses, such as a possible site for a new Maple Ridge Museum, as proposed by the Maple Ridge Historical Society.

“I think this gives us time to see this unfold in a rationale way.”