By taking a measured approach to development, this former farming community seeks to preserve its agricultural heritage and natural splendour
Maple Ridge’s pace of life has always moved a little slower than in most of Metro Vancouver. So has its pace of growth. Despite its early start in 1874 as B.C.’s sixth municipality, it remained a district until 2014 rather than incorporating as a city. Things have picked up considerably in recent years, though, and the community of 85,000 is ramping up for even more development.
Stylish new housing projects are sprouting up in the hills of Silver Valley and in historic Albion, where some of Maple Ridge’s first settlers laid down stakes. Another new subdivision with 350 homes, parks and 10,000 square feet of commercial space is being planned on land once set aside by the province for a bridge over the Fraser River. The city is encouraging and incentivizing developers to add multifamily homes and business premises to the town centre, aiming to make it more vibrant, dense and walkable.
Two factors are spurring this expansion: more people and better transportation. Maple Ridge has added some 5,000 residents since 2012, and the city projects that there will be 109,000 people here by 2031. Newcomers are drawn to housing that’s less expensive than in many parts of Metro Vancouver. Those homes have become more accessible in recent years, thanks to the 2009 completion of the Golden Ears Bridge and four new lanes on the Pitt River Bridge.
All of this growth is whetting residents’ appetite for bigger-city shops, restaurants and services. Walmart and Saanich-based grocer Thrifty Foods are welcome recent additions to downtown’s Haney Place Mall, but there’s ample room and opportunity for more businesses. The city is luring them with incentives like fast-tracked approvals and tax exemptions for development projects in the town centre. Other programs seek to draw employers to more than 300 hectares of industrial land and bolster the local technology and manufacturing sectors.
The city is carefully managing development, ensuring that it doesn’t sprawl beyond current built-up areas. Farming has been a key industry since the 1800s, and about 15 percent of Maple Ridge’s total area falls within the Agricultural Land Reserve. Blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are among the leading crops. Mountains and trees cover even more land—about 60 percent is forested. Locals and tourists can explore some 100 kilometres of trails in local parks, and enjoy spectacular views in Golden Ears Provincial Park on the edge of the city.
Household age (0-45, 45-64, 64+): 32.1%, 44.9%, 23%
University grads: 15.3%
Average household income: $102,411
Average household income under 45: $99,262
Five-year income growth, 2012-17: 13.7%
Five-year population growth: 6.8%
Benchmark detached home price: $847,700
Benchmark condominium price: $307,800
Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom: $1,016
Average annual spending on shelter: $24,547
Key industries: Agriculture; construction; manufacturing; health
Notable employers: City of Maple Ridge; Overwaitea Food Group; Ridge Meadows Hospital; School District 42
Regional unemployment: 4% (February)
Total value of building permits issued in 2017: $227,089,000
Change from 2016: 9.2%
Average processing time for a building permit: 180 days
Cost of a business licence: $110
Business property tax rate: $11.88 per $1,000 of assessed value
Average office lease rate per sq. ft./year: $14-$30
Average retail lease rate: $14-$30
QUALITY OF LIFE
Major post-secondary institutions: None
Major recreational amenities: Golden Ears Provincial Park; public library; one skating rink; indoor pool; outdoor pool; theatres; more than 60 parks with trails, sports fields, fishing, playgrounds, barbecue areas and basketball courts
Key annual events: GETI (Golden Ears Transition Initiative) Fest; Ridge Meadows Rivers Day; Maple Ridge Christmas in the Park and Santa Claus Parade
Average annual household spending on recreation: $5,424
Residents who walk or bike to work: 2.5%