The Thornhill area is identified in the Official Community Plan (OCP) as Urban Reserve (see Chapter 3, Section 3.1.5, Page 10). OCP Policy 3-24 identifies that urban development will not be supported in Thornhill until:
- The City’s population threshold exceeds 100,000 people; and
Residential capacity with the existing urban area is reaching buildout.
By 2030, it is anticipated that the population of Maple Ridge will be over 100,000 residents. However, residential buildout is anticipated to be further out in the time horizon.
On March 30, 2021, a staff report was presented at the Council Workshop meeting to provide: background information of the Thornhill area, the current context in relation to the criteria set out in the Official Community Plan (OCP) Urban Reserve policies, and an update on current growth projections. Additionally, the report introduced the potential for allowing an employment use in Thornhill in the near to medium term. At this meeting Council directed staff to prepare a Thornhill Employment Lands Scoping Report which would outline the necessary background studies, estimated costs, and a timeline that indicates when an Area Plan process may commence.
Employment Lands Opportunity Assessment
Following the March 30, 2021 meeting staff commissioned an initial key study to assess the market viability of an industrial land use to inform future development of the Thornhill area. This study, completed by Urban Systems, found that while an employment use may be viable in Thornhill, it needed to be studied further and carefully considered in the greater context of long-term planning for employment lands in Maple Ridge.
The staff report, including the Thornhill Employment Lands Opportunity Assessment completed by Urban Systems, was presented at the December 14, 2021 Council Workshop Meeting. At this meeting Council directed staff to undertake analysis of the report findings and bring recommendations on next steps to a future Council meeting.
The staff report presenting the analysis of the Urban Systems study and recommendations to proceed with background studies for the 256 Street Industrial Area, as the priority, and to retain Thornhill for employment use in the future, was presented to Council at the March 29, 2022 Council Workshop meeting. At this meeting Council directed staff to proceed with a 256 Street Industrial Area Strategy (including timelines and infrastructure requirements); develop a process for the Thornhill employment lands (including a timeline and strategy); and to seek input on the assessment report from the Corporate Development and Enterprise Services Committee.
- Assessment of Employment Future in Thornhill and 256 Street Industrial Area Staff Report dated March 29, 2022