Not much gets me up at 5:30 in the morning, at least not since my days of working the 6:00 am shift at VGH, but an opportunity to hear from an esteemed panel of speakers about the importance of the Asian Pacific Gateway, especially during increasing protectionist actions from our number one trading partner, the Ole US of A, had me hot footing it into the shower.

Not only was the trip into Vancouver an opportunity to hear from experts about increased job opportunities in the forestry, technology, education and tourism businesses through expanded Asian relations, it was a reminder that Maple Ridge commuters are a special breed. Coffee cups perched on steering wheels, bumpers seemingly perched on bumpers and patience perched on that resolve to politeness that makes us oh, so Canadian. I must have a recessive American gene—I seriously couldn’t do it every day.

The key message from the Business Council’s panel on this morning was that Canada has to diversify its trade into Asia and move out from under our dependency on the American market. To do this, we need to take actions to show Asia that Canada is a serious contender for their markets. The suggestions to achieve this, and to which I agree, could easily apply to Maple Ridge. They were: send a strong message of investment readiness, by committing to plans and executing them; get needed infrastructure in place; and reduce needless red tape and regulations that strangle business and innovation. This is not to say that we compromise what is important to us, namely the environment and safety, but more than ever we need to give business a chance. After all, the best gift you could give a commuter, is the option of a 20 minute car—bike?—ride.

By the way, an average of 61.5 new business licenses per month were applied for in Maple Ridge during the first 8 months of 2011—commercial, home-based, and non residential combined.