Dog Friendly Maple Ridge

The Dog Friendly Maple Ridge marketing program, funded by a provincial grant, was designed to provide economic and social benefits during the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among a number of other circuit breaker restrictions including travel between regions, dine-in service was disallowed and restaurants had to adapt their operations or face the threat of being closed for business. At the same time, some interesting trends were emerging. People, more than ever, were adopting dogs and spending increased amounts of money on pets. Dog parks and trails were also experiencing a significant uptake in numbers of park users as indicated by dog park digital counters. The program was aimed at pairing the growing popularity of spending time recreating and spending on pets with a new awareness of dog-friendly experiences (e.g. patio dining with dogs, craft beer experiences, accommodations and road trips, etc). The program included identifying signage & business decals, Stay Local travel itineraries, a BC Ale Trail - Maple Ridge influencer campaign (@mrbentley_thedog), contests, incentives and social and print media (#dogfriendlymapleridge). 35 businesses signed up for the program. Of these, 11 were dog-friendly patios.

Using the Paw Swap app points program analytics and other user data to measure the economic benefits of the stimulus program, we were able to estimate the dollar value of the program in terms of average spending per visit. It was determined that the economic benefit from April 1 to August 31, 2021 was approximately $300,000 and was calculated by multiplying the number of visits and the length of the marketing program by an average spend of $10.00. See attached DFMR Review (appendix 1) for more details about the economic impact analysis.

Other benefits include:
- Growing awareness of Maple Ridge as a local home town destination for excellent dog-friendly experiences,
- Marketing support and branded materials for local dog-friendly Maple Ridge businesses and services,
- Increased awareness of dog-friendly patio policies and guidelines for successful dog patio dining experiences,
- Encouragement of citizens to staycation in Maple Ridge, reduce their ecological footprint, contribute to the local economy and discover a home town brimming with nature, hospitality and fun.

The project is replicable and transferable for use in other communities. The program design includes a business participant guide based on lessons learned from similar programs in New York and California. This guide can be shared with other communities and adapted for a particular situation. The program also provided an opportunity to support businesses with learning about new provincial legislation that allows dining with dogs in accordance with food safety and other guidelines.

The educational aspect of the dog friendly program provides an opportunity for businesses to set up their establishment, staff and customers for a successful, safe and well-managed experience that complies with provincial legislation.