Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Maple Ridge an Urban Resort?

There is no such thing as an Urban Resort. The two words side by side are not to be found in the urban planner's dictionary. There is no saying whether or not these two words may from time time show up sitting beside each other in a mental equivalent of musical chairs. Then briefly looking askance at one another, the music starts up and off they go again.

Urban. Resort. One pleasant word, one less so. Blending them may result in the urban part becoming a little more palatable to the suburban taste. Then again the opposite effect may occur in the event the resort part is threatened by urbanism. This may not be such a good idea after all.

What would even cause such a thought to appear in the mind of an urban observateur?

The fact that Maple Ridge has one of the largest parks within a bear's fart of civilization may have something to do with it. The Golden Ears Park hosts close to a million visitors annually.

What else do we have? Horses, lakes, hiking, fishing, cycling (lets not forget recycling), boating and now, of all things, agri-tours. You can camp in Maple Ridge. You can tube down the Alouette River. Are you sure we are not a resort town - just 50 minutes outside of what is supposedly the most livable city in the world?

A resort town that is loaded to its sprawling gunwales with young families, schools, social services, shops, infrastructure, industry, business and more to come. A resort town that fights for every square inch of its agricultural land reserve whether within or outside the mysterious Green Zone. The Green Zone is a sort of Bermuda Triangle into which the capital of developers and speculators is said to disappear from time time - often never to be seen again. True, it is also said that from time a few hectare may disappear from the Green Zone on the wings of that devilish Agricultural Land Commission. Developers may sometimes be heard to whisper to certain council members over an almond latte in the cool gloom of Starbucks 'you are the wind beneath my wings.'

Here in the wonderful heat of yet another Maple Ridge summer it is hard not to believe that we live in an urban resort. Boats, fishing rods, motorcycles, cycles, shorts, T-shirts, carwashes, the young, the old, going about their lives. Jazz festivals, Caribbean Festivals, theatre, music, dance, hope, harmony (well, at least once we have that pesky OCP behind us), music on the Wharf, visitors from afar and those from nearby Vancouver who simply come to see what life may be like in the Valley. Many choose to stay. And why not? Why not set up home in this Urban Resort we call Maple Ridge - perhaps the only living example of such sublimity in Canada.

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