Your canine companion doesn’t have to sit in the car when you go into a restaurant in Maple Ridge, or even if you go into a liquor store to buy a bottle of wine.
Businesses in the city are embracing the new Dog Friendly Maple Ridge pilot project, which allows proprietors to welcome dogs inside, and for restaurants and pubs to have dogs on their patios.
The Maple Ridge Liquor Store has been allowing patrons to bring in their pets, and now they have canine regulars, said manager Mackenzie Esplin – like Max, the Golden Retriever.
“We get lots of people, especially our regulars, who bring their dogs in,” said Esplin.
They dispense mini dog treats, and Max obviously looks forward to getting his.
“Dogs know where the treats are, and they won’t go past the cash register until they get their treat,” she laughed.
They get four or five dogs a day, she said, and appreciates it is a convenience to customers who walk to the store and want to exercise their pet, or for drivers who don’t want to leave their dog in the car on a hot day.
“I think it (Dog Friendly Maple Ridge) is a great idea, because I love dogs,” said Esplin.
The liquor store is one of eight dog friendly businesses listed by the city so far. Five are specific pet retailers, but the list includes T’s Once Upon a Tea Leaf and Haney Builders’ Supplies.
The Witchcraft pub has always allowed dogs on the patio. The city has a map of dog-friendly patios, and Witchcraft is one of nine listed so far.
Manager Lee Cotterall said the downtown is walkable, and there are lot of people with their dogs on a leash. He likes that it’s easy for them to sit on the patio and have a drink or meal. He’s on the city’s promotional video bringing trays of water and treats to a couple of dogs at Witchcraft.
“A dog becomes a member of your family. We’re dog friendly, and we’re kid friendly as well, so you can bring the whole family,” he said.
Tourism Maple Ridge partnered with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association and the Chamber of Commerce Serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows in the project.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Ineke Boekhorst of the downtown group. “We have a lot of pet owners in the community, and it’s nice for them to know their pets are welcome.”
“People with pets are looking for places where they can sit down and bring their dogs.”
Restaurants are able to decide for themselves whether they would like to divide their patio between pets-allowed spaces or no-pets spaces.
She said the businesses involved receive a package that includes signage for their windows that show they are participating in Dog Friendly Maple Ridge, as well as disposable water bowls, pet treats, and prizes. They also have their business included on a map.
“So they can put out the welcome mat,” she said.
City tourism coordinator Katherine Baird said the city received a provincial economic stimulus grant of $16,500 to support the pilot project.
She said the province has changed legislation to allow for dogs on patios, and it is modelled after California and New York City, where dogs are permitted on patios.
The city cautions that dog owners are expected to ensure their pets are well-behaved when visiting a participating business and ensure both owner and pet are complying with the relevant public health orders. If your dog is young and not well-socialized, you may want to wait until they can be comfortable in these new and distracting environments, said the city.