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Maple Ridge dog-friendly pilot project hopes to be an example for other cities

Maple Ridge dog-friendly pilot project hopes to be an example for other cities

Maple Ridge aims to be the most dog-friendly city in Canada with a new project that encourages pet owners to visit local businesses with their dogs.

This dog-friendly initiative connects local businesses, restaurants and pubs to pet lovers for a more welcoming experience.

The Dog-Friendly Maple Ridge (DFMR) program was made possible by a provincial grant given to Tourism Maple Ridge which has partnered with the Maple Ridge Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Improvement Association to help small businesses.

Dog-friendly businesses are a growing trend among dog lovers of all kinds interested in year-round outdoor dining and drinks at sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, breweries and other eateries. Having a welcoming space for dogs can attract a broader market who enjoy going on adventures and outings with their pets.

One business that has fully embraced this project is the Ranch Pub and Grill on 132nd Avenue, right across from North Alouette Regional Greenway Park. Michelle Forsgren of Ranch Pub and Grill says being close to a large green space and having an outdoor patio helps draw dog owners after a walk with their loved ones.

“It’s a major, major draw for us. Everybody loves dogs around here,” she said.

Business owners can opt into the pilot project and decide how to implement it in their space based on what they think is best for their business. For example, restaurants can split the patio so half is for dog owners and the other half for other patrons. Another possibility that the Chamber of Commerce recommends is having a dog-friendly menu or dog treats so pets can snack along with their owners.

Any local business in Maple Ridge can apply to join the program by clicking on this link. Applications will be assessed based on their ability to offer dog-friendly experiences to customers. Once approved, owners will receive a sticker to place on their storefront to indicate they welcome dogs. The businesses, of course, have to agree to follow the BC Food Safety Legislation. If you have any questions regarding the legislation, business owners and residents are encouraged to call the Fraser Health Authority.

These pet-friendly businesses will also receive water bowls, pet treats, and prizes to give out. In addition, they will have their business included on a map on the Maple Ridge website, or dog owners can simply download the PawSwap App.

“I love that Maple Ridge is a dog-friendly community,” said Taryn Stephenson, who is a local resident along with her dog, Mavis.

“She has been brilliant for my mental health,” Taryn gushes of Mavis. “I can take her outside. I can take her for walks and I don’t have to leave her at home, and I can bring her to the patio for Happy Hour.”

According to recent studies published in a report by Maple Ridge, approximately 32% of Canadians are dog owners and 44% of Millennials are choosing dogs over having children. Empty nesters and work-at-home employees are also frequently dog owners. With COVID, cities have seen the number of dog owners has gone up and are trying to increase livability, partnerships, and cooperation for both the two-legged and the four-legged.

DFMR may be a pilot project, but the City is expecting positive feedback from both residents and business owners. If that’s the case, this project may be the first of many rolled out to other cities across Canada.

For more information about DFMR please visit the Chamber of Commerce Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows. There you can download a participant guide and apply to participate.


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