Saturday, October 03, 2009

Are some downtown Maple Ridge retailers in need of a saliva test?

Certain business people in Maple Ridge's downtown are, from what one can tell, demonstrating loudly against upgrading sections of 224th and the Lougheed Highway.

The fear is that 6 months of construction will put them out of business. On this particular issue - and here is the irony - Radio Haney prays that Mayor Daykin, council and staff turn a blind eye, a deaf ear and stonewall the bajasus out of the protesters (admittedly RH was critical of the council when if wrong-footed the community on Jackson Farm but that, as they say, is a another story).

For decades the business community and others have fought tooth and nail privately and publicly to see our downtown preserved and developed into the terrific place it can be. Now, on the brink, of starting this work, we hear from some that they will be put out of business as a result.

True, it was sad to see a handful of retailers bite the fairy dust during the very poorly managed memorial park project. We followed the work closely and it often seemed that the job was going in slow motion, backwards. One can only expect that the contractors and District overseer has learned a little from the first go-around on 224th and will approach the next stages with better planning and enhanced efficiencies. There is absolutely no doubt that this work must be done urgently and properly. It lays the foundation for what many have dreamed of and worked for over a long, long period of time.

Old school Maple Ridge needs to give way to modernity.

The surrender to growth is often painful. The Canada line is a great example of this sort of public debate. The hard fact is that once the bankruptcies have passed and hue and cry has diminished everyone, businesses and the community is left with greater values that will carry them through the decades to come.

There was resistance to the West Coast Express - over subsidized they complained - now it is standing room only and the service is expanding. The Canada Line - it will prove to be the greatest public transport conduit in Metro Vancouver. The Golden Ears Bridge, ditto. Pitt River Bridge, ditto. These projects did not get materialize from under a magician's cloak, or pop rabbit-like out of hat. They are needed, planned and worked on by many with the input of many. They are job generators and life-style improvers.

To those naysayers of this gift of $5.8 m Radio Haney would suggest that they walk down the Lougheed and 224th in 12 months time. The pain will be over and the benefits will be apparent.

We should welcome with arms each new construction site that starts anywhere in our downtown.

We may then be able to echo the immortal words of Dr. Frankenstein: "Its alive, its alive!!"

The property owners and business owners need to take a deep breath and plunge into the future, the water is only cold on entering, once you are in its fine.

A Maple Ridge population of 100,000 is much, much closer than anyone dare admit.

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