To meet the Metro Vancouver 2040 forecast doubling of population and jobs in Maple Ridge there are a range of initiatives underway to attract private investment and create high value local jobs.
The most significant of these is the Town Centre Investment Incentive Program.
Designed to accelerate private investment in mixed-use, commercial, and multi-family (minimum four- and five-storey) residential projects, since its launch in January 2011 not only has the incentive generated more than 30 projects in the town centre valued at more than $100 million dollars, the momentum has spilled out to the rest of the community where there are more than 350 developments underway.
There have been almost 700 single-family home starts over the same period.
From the soon to opened Thrifty Foods to the six-storey mixed-use commercial project at Lougheed Highway and 223rd Street, the hotel project at 224th Street and Callaghan Avenue, to countless multi-family residential projects - it's pretty hard to miss all the investment activity underway these days.
The incentive program is also drawing worldwide interest as a model for success.
Mayor Ernie Daykin recently hosted an Australian parliamentary delegation examining issues of rural urban interface. The members were specifically interested in learning about how the program could be adapted for their use; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities cited Maple Ridge as a champion and leading example of sustainable economic development in a case study to build a framework for use across Canada, and the BC Brownfields Program office is modelling its new incentive framework on the success of our program.
It's also winning Marketing awards - at the recent Economic Developers Association of BC (EDABC) economic forum, Maple Ridge was awarded marketing project of the year for its incentive program; and the Hermes International Marketing competition awarded it gold.
When the Real Estate Investment Network named us its 2010 number five top canadian investment city there were a few key reasons that stood out - affordability, accessibility, and lifestyle among them.
It takes a vision, leadership, focus, and patience to build a vibrant community.
Our goal is to attract investment to build the buildings that will house our future residents and businesses - these are major investment decisions that especially in tough economic times can take a long time to come together.
We're seeing significant interest from major developers and investors who are impressed with the vision for our community and the incentive.
It's so great to take those new to Maple Ridge on a walking tour where they can see first hand Memorial Peace Park and the civic complex right in the heart of Downtown Maple Ridge.
They very much appreciate the significant investment that has been made in infrastructure in recent years to make Maple Ridge "investment ready."
As our population increases, we'll continue to attract attention from key retailers who see an opportunity for their business.
We're already in talks with several companies who are keenly interested. The incentive is helping build awareness of the investment opportunities here - and that's good for all of us.
Maple Ridge council's Vision 2025 is for a vibrant economy that includes high value local jobs.
Our job at Invest Maple Ridge is to help attract investment to help ensure that momentum continues.
There has already been significant progress made. To find out more about how the vision of council is being translated into action on the ground across our community you can view the 2011 Citizen's Report Vision to Action online at www.mapleridge.ca.
While you're there, we encourage you to check out the interactive map that shows at a glance all the Town Centre Investment Incentive projects complete with project descriptions.
Our strong partnerships help make all of this possible.
Through our Invest North Fraser partnership (www.investnorthfraser.com) with Mission and Pitt Meadows, we are working with the government of B.C., Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Innovation, the school district, Meadowridge independent school, as well as a number of post-secondary institutions, industry associations, and others, to advance a number of job creation and investment attraction projects that will benefit the regional economy.
As well, we're working with Tourism Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to build awareness of the unique outdoor and recreation opportunities here; and we're partnered with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association on the BIA facade improvement project that is now in its fourth year.
As Mayor Daykin says "it's not if we'll grow, but how."
We have a range of investment in high-quality projects that will benefit our community and the region for generation.
These are exciting times for Maple Ridge, and we're delighted for this opportunity to share the details with you.
The new commercial buildings will need great tenants - we'd like to hear from you about your favourite restaurants, shops, and services; and we'll do our best to make sure they're aware of the interest in them coming to Maple Ridge!
Trivia questions and answers
Question: How many retail businesses in Maple Ridge?
Answer: 1,500. In Downtown Maple Ridge alone there are more than 700 shops and services.
Question: What percentage of new businesses in Maple Ridge achieves the three-year survival rate?
Answer: About 90 per cent, well ahead of the Industry Canada average of 66.7 per cent.
- Sandy Blue is manager for Strategic Economic Development for Maple Ridge.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org