What measurements have been taken in the city
of Maple Ridge to ensure that small businesses are
protected during and after the Covid -19 pandemic?
Our immediate priority was supporting the education around Public
Health Orders from the BC Government. In the early days of the
COVID-19 pandemic we reached out to our Downtown Business
Improvement Association and the local Chamber of Commerce
to encourage a collaboration to develop and publish a list of the
businesses that were available and open to the public. Once that
list was available, we supported the distribution of this information
on our social media channels.
Our Economic Development team did a quick pivot to bring their
resources to bear with the development of regular newsletters to
connect citizens with the essential businesses serving the community
and to connect businesses with the support programs that were
implemented by the Provincial and Federal governments. As the
pandemic has gone on, and the BC Government announced the
BC Restart Plan we participated in an online Town Hall meeting with
colleagues from all levels of government to support the reopening
and hear, first hand, what some of the challenges might be.
The City purchased advertising and launched social media campaign
for both a ‘Shop Local’ and a ‘Local Tourism’ series to encourage
people to connect and reconnect with the local entrepreneurs who
have been doing so many innovative things in the pandemic to keep
their staff and customers safe.
Council approved an expedited process for the hospitality industry,
which has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, to deploy new
patios and outdoor spaces to help customers physically distance
and support their local businesses.
Our Film Liaison worked closely with the Provincial group that
developed the guidelines for the reopening of the film and TV
industry, which is an important employer of local residents and
an essential element of the BC Economy. Currently, the work has
roared back and we are back to pre-COVID production levels.
Our staff have been doing regular check-ins with the businesses
and business associations and our Bylaws team have rolled out their
Community Safety Officer pram of active enforcement to ensure
the safety of our business areas and some proactive programs to
help businesses develop strong safety programs as their retail and
service environments have changed in the pandemic.
In 2019, our Council passed the most progressive home based
business legislation in the region, and during the pandemic, when
so many people have been working from home, these regulations
have helped entrepreneurs look at ways to keep their businesses
running while keeping their families safe.
We are all in this together, and we will continue to adapt processes
and programs to ensure that we are supporting the business
community as we navigate through this new reality.
How are you doing business differently in the City
of Maple Ridge to help prevent the spread of Covid
19 and keep people in your community safe?
Our organization turned on a dime when the pandemic hit. Our
staff deployed technology to allow Council to continue to hold
meetings using virtual meeting tools. We never missed a single
meeting, the only Council in BC to ensure that important decisions,
such as project approvals, were done. The construction industry was
deemed an essential service in BC, and our team helped ensure
that Council was able to make decisions and approvals to keep
this industry going.
Broadly, we have adopted the tone of BC’s Public health Officer,
Dr. Bonnie Henry, and we have opted for an ‘education’ versus
‘enforcement’ approach for the public and business community.
This is a stressful time, and we have found that when people have
the facts and information, they are doing the right things.
We redeployed parks & recreation staff from closed facilities to create
‘Park Ambassadors’ in our beautiful local parks and open spaces
to help people understand the importance of physical distancing.
Internally, we ensured that our staff were safe by supporting remote
working and deploying virtual meeting tools to make sure that we
did not lose momentum on Council's Strategic Priorities.
We enacted virtual building inspections, rolled out online building
permit application tools, implemented new protocols for client
meetings and did what needed to be done to keep supporting our
citizens and businesses.
Our parks staff delivered ‘virtual’ exercise classes and community
celebrations such as Canada Day, and have organized and delivered
concerts and a ‘drive in theatre’ following all the public health
guidelines. Outdoor recreation programs for youth have been
modified and delivered safely.
We have phased in the opening of our parks and recreation facilities
to ensure that citizens can live healthy lifestyles while remaining
physically distant from other family groupings.
Briefly outline some of the boldest decisions you
have made to shape the future of Maple Ridge that
create jobs and build opportunity for families
At the beginning of the year the new rapid bus service launched to
connect our community with the broader regional transit system. As
the pandemic hit, we were strong advocates that this service not be
cancelled, and were supported by our neighbouring communities
in the region. Fast efficient transit is essential as our community
grows, and we have invested in the creation of a new parking lot
adjacent to the transit hub in our downtown to support the growth
of this service.
We won an award for the Home based Business Bylaw program
that we implemented in 2019. We don’t see home based business
as a competitor to ‘brick and mortar’ offices. Quite the opposite,
home based businesses are and incubator for the future of our
community. We have numerous examples where a business started
in the dining room of a citizen's home is now leasing space in our
industrial park or downtown. As the economy adapts to the realities
of the pandemic and the shifts in the retail world, we have recognized
that a strong business community includes the people working from
their home or as mobile businesses.
Our City has supported regional licensing for trades, and recently
was part of the advocacy and roll out of a regional approach for
ridesharing. We recognize that entrepreneurs are mobile and they
need to be supported as they grow their businesses.
The City is seeing the benefits of work done 15 years ago to develop
an Area Plan for the Downtown. Our Council is undertaking a
Downtown Visioning to check in on that work to ensure that the
rapid pace of development that we are seeing is consistent with the
vision for densification of the urban core of our community. The
introduction of the rapid Bus Service has created an opportunity
for the development of a comprehensive planning strategy for the
east west corridor that will be serviced by this new route. Proactively,
Council has implemented this study and will set the plan in place
to ensure that this corridor develops with a well thought out plan.
Council has been very active in looking at the zoning of land for
future employment growth. A number of parcels have been identified
and our staff are bringing recommendations forward to Council so
that we can designate these lands and work with the surrounding
neighbourhoods to ensure that we have strong ‘live/work’ balance
in our community. There is a significant opportunity in the historic
Hammond neighbourhood where a century old mill on the Fraser
River has closed. Our City is working with prospective owners to see how this area can continue to be a strong part of the economic
enhancement of our community.
Behind all of this work is the Community Social Safety Initiative that
is underway to ensure that as our City grows, that we have a variety
of housing options across the spectrum of affordability and that we
have resources deployed in the community to address the regional
pressures around homelessness, addiction and mental health. We
want all citizens to feel, and be, safe and connect with resources
they need to live successful lives.
How important is it to retain, expand and attract
new business to the City of Maple Ridge? What new
strategies will you be implementing in 2021 and
beyond to achieve these key objectives?
Attracting new employment and educational opportunities to our
community are Council’s highest priorities. The marketplace is
changing, and our Council will be developing a comprehensive
economic development strategy that fits our community and our
aspirations as a City.
There is a tendency for economic development to be a bit of an
‘elephant hunt’ with everyone trying to attract the same list of ‘big
game’ businesses. Our strategy is to work with the strong regional and local business community to identify emerging businesses, to
help our existing businesses find the space to grow and to look to
the next generation of entrepreneurs who are involved in technology,
entertainment, service businesses and next generation manufacturing
to give them a home for their business and their employees. Maple
Ridge’s superpower is our incredible natural environment. This is
a place where people can raise a family and build their business.
That’s what we will be marketing.
From our business retention goals to the implementation of our fibre
strategy and the attraction of post secondary educational institutions,
we recognize the connections between our urban development and
the changing needs of business in this modern era. The COVID-19
pandemic has accelerated change, and we are committed to being
part of that future.
What are the leading industry sectors in the City
of Maple Ridge? What other industries would like
to see come into the city
The construction industry is in overdrive in our community. From my
office I can see more overhead cranes than at any time in the City’s
history. Our downtown is being reshaped, and that’s impacting the
service industry with more personal service and hospitality businesses.
Maple Ridge has a number of incredible manufacturing businesses
who have been early adopters of new technology in the building
trades. We have a strong business service sector and the film and
TV production continue to like our City for their work.
We see an opportunity to grow the advanced manufacturing sector
with our approach to creating islands of employment lands in the
community. These kinds of spaces create opportunism for related
businesses to collate to create technology, manufacturing or even
entertainment/film hubs. We are also looking at partnerships to bring
post secondary education for the many youth in our community who
are looking for academic and trade training to start their careers.
How important is social inclusion in the City of
Maple Ridge? What economic benefits does this have
on businesses in your community?
The rapid growth of our community creates challenges and
opportunities. For the people who have lived here for their entire
lifetimes they are seeing their City go though an evolution at a pace
that challenges their perception of who we are as a community.
Our population has more than doubled in the last 25 years, and
this has brought our community many talented young citizens and
entrepreneurs who see different opportunities and possibilities for
Part of that growth is that social problems that were once felt to be
‘downtown Vancouver’ problems have emerged on our streets. Our
Council recognizes that as we grow, we need to bring everyone along
to the future. Our Community Social Safety Initiative recognizes the
importance of housing, health care and safety to the well being of
our City. Inclusiveness is baked into our policies and how we do
business. Our streets are designed with aids to ensure that people
with mobility challenges can move freely around the City. This is
just the right thing to do, because wheelchair access also means
access for strollers and aging citizens.
We have implemented programs to create a fund to be able to work
with partner organizations to develop housing for seniors, youth
and people who are dealing with financial or health hardships.
Our City is in one of the most incredible natural settings, and our
Council is committed to upholding the progressive policy framework
to protect these natural assets which make our community so
attractive to new residents. Our planning policies have set our
targets for densification of our Town Centre as a regional hub to
ensure that we offer a variety of housing forms and affordability.
A key aspect of our City is social inclusiveness. Our community
festivals and events calendar reflects our commitment to making sure
that citizens of all backgrounds and beliefs feel safe and included in
the life of our community. The diversity of our citizens is a strength.
Some of our most incredible entrepreneurs and professionals have
come to our community from across the globe. This is the place that
they have chosen to live and to build their family and their future.
Since the early settlers met at the McIver Farm to incorporate the
City, our prosperity has grown as our new citizens have made
Maple Ridge home.
Wendy Dupley, Ec.D
Economic Development and
11995 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC V2X 6A9
Mobile: 604 340 9453