Friday, September 25, 2009

And good news for proponents of downtown revival in Maple Ridge

Most of us will be thrilled to learn that three levels of government will be providing north of $5m for for improvements on 224th Street in downtown Maple Ridge. Everything helps. Doubtless there will be complaints during construction. For sure there will be whining about design (Radio Haney can be relied on for that). You can't satisfy everyone - Jackson Farm teaches us that.

Hopefully the money will be well spent. I am sure the good people of Haney would prefer to see the $5m spent on the section from the Haney Bypass north towards the Lougheed, but we won't see that this decade.

It will be interesting to see the results - $5m is a fair chunk of change. The memorial park attempt ran to around $1.8m so we have a little precedent. Much of the money will be spent below grade in order to bring services into this era.

This should please local businesses (please don't complain during construction), the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce.
Add Westminster Savings to the corner of Lougheed and 224th on the Zellers carpark site and one gets the sense that slowly, ever so slowly, Maple Ridge is emerging from the mire of the 1940s and 1950s. It is of course population that stimulates growth and looking around the streets in our downtown it is plain for all to see that we are indeed building density. Finding parking for instance between 223 and 224 on either the south side or the north is now becoming harder and harder. During the SmartGrowth on the Ground exercise we discussed angled parking for this section of town. Angled parking does have its pros and cons, but if we trained traffic to make more use of the Haney Bypass then perhaps angled parking along 224th would be viable. It also, by its nature and look, adds a 'town feel' to the core.
Radio Haney imagines that this work will need to be completed by the time the Olympic torch enters the eastern part of the Fraser Valley. This does not give the District and its contractors much time to get on with the job. If the memorial park fiasco is anything to judge by then we won't make the Olympic deadline.

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