Invest North Fraser
Located right outside Vancouver, along the north shore of the Fraser River in British Columbia’s prosperous Lower Mainland, the regions of Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission came together and work to attract investment in their growing economies. Due to the favourable location, the three towns joined forces and work together on the development of investment opportunities in the area, forecasting to increase employment and double population, due to its favourable and economically advantageous location.
Situated 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver, the North Fraser area offers the best synergy of urban living and access to pristine Pacific nature that made the West Coast the place to go for nature enthusiasts. With some 600 square kilometres of land known for its spectacular natural beauty, and offering affordable living and business services, a diverse workforce and accessibility to major transportation, the North Fraser Area attracts attention as the place for investment in Lower Mainland.
To the question, “How did the Invest North Fraser Partnership come about?”, Kate Zanon, CEO of Invest North Fraser, said, “The Partnership started once we came together and realized that in order to discuss opportunities for investment with the provincial government it would make more sense to approach the government and the potential investors together, because geographically, the three are very well connected, while separated from the rest of the province. As a unit we were able to better define our key advantages and opportunities, and we discovered many synergies between us, and a great upside to represent ourselves as a unit, rather than individually.
“While the opportunities for industrial land in Vancouver are scarce, our communities offer industrial opportunities, so we grow with the businesses that come and the type of employment that comes with it. While there are variations in the sectors each of our communities are trying to attract, we also have commonalities, seeking to attract green businesses and technology companies. In agriculture, we are looking at primary production as well as processing and agricultural technologies. Our airport offers aviation opportunities, tourism, and post-secondary education potential.”
BC Jobs Plan Pilot Region
The BC Jobs Plan aims to create long-term jobs and investment across the province by building on key competitive advantages. The North Fraser communities are the first pilot region to partner with the Government of British Columbia on the BC Jobs Plan. To this Zanon said, “As we presented our communities through Invest North Fraser as a partnership rather than individually, we caught the interest of the provincial government plus, once again, the area really offers plenty of opportunities of investment, business and growth.”
Currently, the main five current projects proposed under the BC Jobs Plan are YPK International Business & Education Park, an aviation education and business park for expansion and diversification of the airport economy (Pitt Meadows Regional Airport) and to grow the airport presence in the region; Agri-food Distribution Hub, a production, processing, and distribution hub to support wholesale and direct sales, and to make connections to new markets; The North Fraser Recreational Corridor to develop and market the tourism opportunities within the region; Working Farm School, a centre for agriculture and innovative environmental technologies in regards to livestock and crop; and Green Building Technologies Centre of Excellence, building a learning centre for renewable energy and other ‘green’ building technologies.
Pitt Meadows, with a population of 17,500, is located in the centre of the Lower Mainland and is the gateway between Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
The Golden Ears Bridge links Pitt Meadows to the Trans-Canada Highway and the cities of Surrey and Langley to the south, placing the city only 20 minutes from three U.S. border crossings, and the Abbotsford International Airport. The Pitt River Bridge provides quick access to the Port of Vancouver and Vancouver International Airport. Zanon said, “Once you cross the Pitt River Bridge from Vancouver to Pitt Meadows, you will see that it is the first instance outside the urban environment, where you still get the benefits of the urban environment but also the recreational tool. Our three communities are characterized by compact urban centres and amities, but also preserved green space. For example Pitt Meadows landscape is still 83 per cent agrarian, so we offer the best of the both worlds.”
Maple Ridge consistently receives accolades as the place to live and work. With its developed infrastructure and growing city centre, Real Estate Investment Network chose Maple Ridge as No.5 Top Canadian Investment City in 2010, and No.2 Top B.C. Investment Town and the place to live for lifestyle in 2009 and 2010. The population forecast expects to double, planning to focus 50 per cent of this expected residential growth in the town’s centre. To accommodate this growth, Maple Ridge offers an innovative, three-year program to accelerate the development of the centre.
The District of Mission continues to be one of the fastest growing communities in the province. With Mission’s favourable location, the town expects to increase its number of residents. The District of Mission Planning Department is currently working on several major projects. These projects include the Cedar Valley, Silverdale Urban Residential Neighbourhood Plan, and the Waterfront Development Plan.
Invest North Fraser Partnership has proved itself to provide each town with a powerful tool that attracts investment in their different business niches that complement one another. Through the advantageous business environment, Invest North Fraser expects to attract new business and launch the North Fraser towards a prosperous future.