RealTours is the breakthrough new series from REW.ca that brings you Canadian real estate like you’ve never seen it before. Join us as we embark on an adventure through the Lower Mainland’s most sought-after neighbourhoods, guided by British Columbia’s best realtors.
When the Golden Ears mountain summits frame your view every morning, you know you’ve woken up in a special place. Maple Ridge is more than just a sleepy Vancouver suburb - it’s a quintessentially-Canadian community with some pretty spectacular local scenery. It’s also BC’s fifth-oldest municipality, after New Westminster, Victoria, Langley and Chilliwack.
Maple Ridge prides itself on its family-friendly nature. Unlike its suburban neighbours to the west (like Coquitlam and Burnaby), the Ridge hasn’t yet embraced the rise of the skyscraper. You won’t find condo towers or fast-paced densification plans here. Instead, you’ll discover a community full of young families who want that traditional Canadian life, but with easy access to the big city.
In this episode of RealTours, Stephen Tadgh gets to know the real Maple Ridge with the help of local boy Chase Shymkiw and his business partner Jeremy McCarthy, two of the area’s top realtors.
Welcome to Maple Ridge
Sitting on the northern banks of the Fraser River, Maple Ridge has a more rural vibe than other Vancouver suburbs. Look north and you’re greeted by the incredible Golden Ears, a series of mountain peaks that are part of the wider Garibaldi Ranges of the Coast Mountains. Head west and you’ll hit Pitt Meadows; east and you’ll arrive in Mission. Langley is just across the Golden Ears Bridge to the south.
While Maple Ridge is well-connected to the rest of the Lower Mainland - the Lougheed Highway passes right through it - you don’t need to travel far to find great shopping, restaurants and activities. The downtown core, also called Haney, is a designated heritage district and includes historic buildings moved to the neighbourhood from other parts of Maple Ridge.
For residents, that family-friendly lifestyle is on offer in a number of tight-knit neighbourhoods, from the riverside enclave of Albion to the mountainside streets of Silver Valley. Single-family homes are the norm, although townhomes have become more common in recent years.
"That's really what Maple Ridge embraces,” Shymkiw explains. “It hasn't grown into a big city, where you have skyscrapers or 10-storey concrete buildings. People move in from Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, and they're coming to Maple Ridge because they want a bit more bang for their buck, they want a family home, they want a yard, they want somewhere their kids can go to school and play and be local."
To kick off our tour of Maple Ridge, Shymkiw takes us…out of Maple Ridge. Osprey Village is technically in neighbouring Pitt Meadows but it’s an iconic neighbourhood in the Ridge-Meadows area and homes here are in high demand.
That might be because Osprey Village is strangely familiar, like somewhere you’ve been before. Well, if you’ve seen many Hallmark movies, there’s a good chance you’ve caught one with Osprey Village as the backdrop.
The picturesque main street is lined with independent shops with homes above them. Nearby, you’ll find townhomes and row-housing, with detached homes a bit further out from the centre. But you have to move fast if you’re interested in moving to the village.
"Anything that hits the market, unless it's grossly overpriced, is turning over quickly, with low turnover in general," Shymkiw says.
Silver Valley’s forested hillsides are home to one of Maple Ridge’s fasting-growing communities. It might be the proximity to the trail networks of Golden Ears Provincial Park or the creeks and rivers bursting with salmon, but Silver Valley feels a world away from downtown Vancouver.
Most homes have been built within the last 15 years and range from around 2,800 to 4,000 square feet, giving lots of space for the families who live here. One of those families is Shymkiw’s, who moved to the area six years ago.
"You have amazing views of Golden Ears, and even Vancouver in the sunset from a lot of these homes," he says.
Another common feature in the area are mortgage-helpers, with many homes offering basement suites as rental units.
Our final stop takes us to the riverside community of Albion, a slightly older neighbourhood than Silver Valley but with similar sized homes. Situated in the southeast corner of Maple Ridge, Albion is a haven for sports-obsessed families. Within a short walk, you’ll find the Albion Sports Complex, Planet Ice - Maple Ridge and the Albion Bike Park.
"We're seeing a lot of families come out here to grow,” Shymkiw explains. “And that brings good walk scores, very good elementary schools, very good high schools. All of that is complemented with the trails systems and the parks that we have, that ties all these families together."
Growth is happening in Albion, too. The nearby Kanaka Springs development, built by Epic Homes, is a master-planned community with single-family homes and townhomes on offer.
"Out here, you're getting a lot more of the nature surroundings as opposed to just views,” Shymkiw’s partner Jeremy McCarthy tells us. “Here you get a bit of everything. You’re close to parks and lakes, it’s a good place to raise your family. It's not as small town as it once felt like."
For the last decade, Jeremy McCarthy and Chase Shymkiw have been selling homes together in the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows area. They know the area as well as anyone, and they should - Shymkiw was born and raised here and McCarthy has called it home for most of his life.
The pair are both living the Maple Ridge dream. Shymkiw grew up on the sports fields and ice rinks of Albion, playing baseball and hockey at a high level. McCarthy follows similar passions, coaching and playing a variety of sports over the years.
Together, they’ve sold hundreds of homes and built a loyal customer base looking for that family-friendly life in Maple Ridge.