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Passing the torch: Tenth to the Fraser is now under new ownership

After 10 years in New Westminster and seven years of blogging about life in this great city, it is time for our family to say au revoir.

My husband Will has been offered a job transfer to the Montreal area, and we have decided to take the opportunity for his career advancement, as well as for our family to experience French-Canadian culture and language, explore new places out East, and take advantage of Quebec’s profound cost-of-living advantages over British Columbia.

It is hard to say goodbye to the city we love so well, and the many wonderful people we have met here, but this is an opportunity for a family adventure that we just can’t pass up.

Those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter knew this was coming, and a big question for blog readers has been what will happen with Tenth to the Fraser.

It has been very quiet around here while our family worked through the question of whether to stay or go, and then moved into a whirlwind of logistical planning to sell our New Westminster home, pack and move our family of five, purchase a new home in Quebec, etc, etc. The good news is, it won’t be quiet much longer.

I have sold Tenth to the Fraser to my very good friend and frequent collaborator Jen Arbo. Jen’s now working to transform the blog into a powerhouse local community resource. In 2016, she plans to relaunch Tenth to the Fraser with a new look & feel, more regular and frequent updates, and some awesome new features. If you’ve got ideas for improvement, a story idea, or want to put your hand up to be part of the new Tenth to the Fraser, leave a comment here or drop her a line on Twitter @jenarbo. Watch for her inaugural post as the new publisher for more details on her big vision!

As for me, well, you probably haven’t heard the last word. Once I get settled, I look forward to the occasional guest post as a ‘foreign’ correspondent! I feel so glad that I am able to pass the torch to someone who is as skilled and connected with the community as Jen, and I know she’ll grow Tenth to the Fraser into a fantastic resource for New Westminster.

Posted in Site News.

In memory of New Westminster’s golden age: Wild Rice pays tribute to the King Neptune

Photograph shows a street view of Eighth Street, looking toward the river, showing the intersections of 8th and Victoria, Carnarvon, Columbia, and Front streets. Shows edge of CPR station, The Old Spaghetti Factory on the right, and a full view of The King Neptune restaurant at the foot of the street.

Photograph shows a street view of Eighth Street, looking toward the river, showing the intersections of 8th and Victoria, Carnarvon, Columbia, and Front streets. Shows edge of CPR station, The Old Spaghetti Factory on the right, and a full view of The King Neptune restaurant at the foot of the street. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

It’s been nagging at me to write about a particular Feast On The Fraser event that caught my eye: Wild Rice’s Tribute to the King Neptune on Thursday, October 1. Most people who moved to New West or came of age after 1982 will have no idea what the King Neptune is or why it deserves a tribute, but mention it to anyone who lived here during New West’s golden age when Columbia Street was the place to shop, and they will tell you that the King Neptune was the place to eat.

King Neptune owner Jean A in the dining hall of the restaurant. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives

King Neptune owner Jean Almas in the dining hall of the restaurant. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives

My father-in-law Richard Tomkinson is one of those people who still reminisces about the King Neptune – and still gets angry about the decisions of the City council of the day that led to the iconic restaurant closing forever.

“In a town that didn’t have too many alternatives at the time, if you were entertaining you were going to take your guests there to the King Neptune,” Richard says. It had the cachet of Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island in its day, he says. The restaurant was even known abroad – Richard remembers hearing people talking about the New Westminster King Neptune when he was working in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The story of the King Neptune itself is an interesting one. It began as a successful small family-run wharfside bistro in 1949, but the real success came after two major crises rocked the Almas family. In 1965 Jean Almas’s husband Jim died suddenly, and in the same year, she was informed the restaurant would have to relocate. In a time when it was uncommon for women to be in business, Jean Almas made a deal to take over a dilapidated old loading building on the waterfront, gut the interior and renovate it into an elegant 300-seat restaurant.

In a 1976 newspaper article provided to me by the New Westminster Museum and Archives, Jean Almas said, “At that time it was really a man’s world. But then I thought, ‘Why not?’ I was faced with a decision. I could give up or I could go ahead. I decided there was no reason why I couldn’t carry on successfully.”

In a 2013 article in the New Westminster Record, then-City heritage planner Jim Wolf reminisced about the landmark: “Some of us have never forgotten King Neptune. It had a wonderful neon sign … and when you came down the Eighth Street hill and there was King Neptune holding his trident looking straight up the hill and beckoning people to come on in and eat the salmon.”

The King Neptune was so good that the Crown Prince of Japan dined there when he came to visit Vancouver. It was where the City held its civic dinners and receptions, wined and dined prime ministers, and a magnet for 1960s and 1970s celebrities. It was New Westminster’s number one tourist attraction.

The address was 800 Front Street, on the site where the Fraser River Discovery Centre now stands, right next to Wild Rice’s restaurant. In the early 1980s, the City of New Westminster decided to redevelop the waterfront area, and decided the old King Neptune would just get in the way. The restaurant was unable to work out an arrangement that would allow them to continue operating during construction, and closed in 1982. People in New Westminster were so upset that they picketed City Hall and begged then-Premier Bill Bennet to step in to save the King Neptune.

Citizens protested the closure of the King Neptune. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

Citizens protested the closure of the King Neptune. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

The owners were upset too. Rather than leave the restaurant ‘for the bulldozers,’ as Neptune co-owner Denis Almas (Jean’s son) said in a February 1982 article in The Columbian, the building was moved from the site and floated to a new location by barge on the Fraser River.

The King Neptune restaurant was taken away by barge. A sign hung on the side reads, "Gone Fishing." Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

The King Neptune restaurant was taken away by barge. A sign hung on the side reads, “Gone Fishing.” Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

“I did find something about a re-opening in Richmond,” says New Westminster Museum archivist Barry Dykes, “But I don’t know for sure if it happened.” Dykes has been unable to find any record in the archives about the new location other than a flyer promising a reopening would be coming soon.

“The land was bought by the British Columbia Development Corp. It was part of the massive redevelopment of the waterfront, but that piece of land was not redeveloped for a while.”

New Westminster citizens were furious – and you can hear the pique in my father-in-law’s voice today when he recalls the closing of the King Neptune.

“They shut down the King Neptune and did nothing. Nothing happened for years after. Years and years. Mayors went by before anything happened, before the development at the Quay happened,” Richard says.

Muni Evers took away the King Neptune and gave us nothing in its place. All that happened was it turned into a wasteland. There was nothing built there for years.”

Before & after photos of the location of the famous King Neptune restaurant, after it was forced to close. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

Before & after photos of the location of the famous King Neptune restaurant, after it was forced to close. Photo: New Westminster Museum & Archives.

The slow redevelopment of the waterfront resulted in our beautiful Quayside boardwalk, Pier Park and River Market – but it sure took a long time to get there. The process is still underway, with Front Street due for revitalization and new mixed-use developments pending construction on either side of River Market.

If you want to experience a little taste of New Westminster’s ‘golden mile’ glory days, buy your ticket to Wild Rice’s Feast On The Fraser Tribute to King Neptune. Tickets are $45 and include a three-course menu of fried oysters, line-caught ling cod with anchovy butter and King Neptune salad, and a Royal City sundae for dessert.

You can learn more about the history of New Westminster’s working waterfront at the New Westminster Museum’s feature exhibition at the Anvil Centre.

Posted in Eats and Drinks, Events, New Westminster.

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Your guide to Feast On The Fraser

The full list of Feast On The Fraser events.

The full list of Feast On The Fraser events.

With twelve events over ten days, Feast On The Fraser presents New West folk with a dilemma: which one(s) to choose? Fear not, gentle reader. There is something for everyone in this week of foodie fun.

If you like to run with the cool kids: Get a ticket to the kickoff event on Friday, September 25. “Boathouse Brews & Bites” features a tasting menu of five mouthwatering treats incorporating Steel & Oak brew. It is the official launch party, so everyone who has had a role in putting together Feast On The Fraser will be there, including many of New Westminster’s movers & shakers. Tickets are $50.

If you’ve got someone you want to impress: Splurge on the Longtail Kitchen Seafood Boil & Fry on Saturday, September 26. Longtail is one of the best Thai restaurants in the Lower Mainland, so you know the food will be excellent. In addition to a smorgasboard of local Oceanwise mussels, clams, crabs, lobsters, fried oysters and prawns, the $83 ticket also includes a large bottle of Steel & Oak craft beer and live entertainment.

Another option is the Feast On The Fraser At Anvil Centre, on Saturday, October 3. For $94, Executive Chef Nin Rai will show you how to pair, prepare and plate a fancy meal at home. You will get to eat as well as learn. The menu includes vanilla butter poached sturgeon with local chanterelles, ice wine gelee, seared skin on Fraser run Steelhead with roasted butternut squash puree, and spiced pumpkin and banana fosters flambe. Wine pairings with each course are included in the ticket price.

Finally, Thursday, October 1, there is Wild Rice’s Tribute to King Neptune Restaurant. The King Neptune was the place to eat in New West many years ago, and longtime locals still talk about it with a pang of longing. The $45 menu includes an appetizer of fried oysters with house tartar and slaw, ling cod with anchovy butter and King Neptune salad for the main, and a Royal City Sundae for dessert. Each table will feature quotations from New Westminster’s archives that capture the history of our working waterfront (provided by New Westminster Museum & Archives).

For a date night that’s a little different: Head to the Palates & Paint Night Fundraiser on Wednesday, September 30 at 100 Braid Street Studios. The $53 ticket includes a painting lesson from a professional artist and a wine tasting featuring three glasses of Pacific Breeze‘s garagiste-style vino and a selection fo appetizers. The event is also a fundraiser for the Arts Council of New Westminster. All materials are supplied and no painting experience is necessary.

Go on a two-hour romantic riverboat cruise aboard the M.V. Native for the $38 Wine & Dine Cruise on Friday, October 2. Enjoy Pacific Breeze Urban Winery’s award-winning wine expertly paired with a meal of paddlewheeler sliders, fresh seafood chowder and mixed green candied salmon salad.

Take your sweetie out dancing at The Heritage Grill Dine & Dance on Wednesday, September 30. For just $35 you’ll enjoy a three-course meal and dancing to live entertainment with Ranj Singh.

For a night out with the girls: Join the Belly Dancing Divas at Taverna Greka on Friday, October 2. Your $39.75 ticket includes drinks, dinner and a chance to learn some new belly dancing moves! Your ticket includes a glass of wine or a pint of beer, pita and dip appetizer and a main course of your choice.

To enjoy new-to-you tastes: Try the Raw Night at Rain City Juicery on Sunday, September 27. Certified Holistic Practitioner Vanessa McKay from Good Fooditude will offer a taste of raw, vegan cuisine featuring nut pate sushi, raw zucchini pad thai and a raw vegan lime tart alongside drinks from Rain City Juicery for $43.

For fun on a budget: The Rock Band Party on Tuesday, September 29 at the Columbia sounds like a hoot. For $23 you’ll get a beer, highball or glass of house wine and your choice of sliders, chicken strips, flatbread pizza or potachos while enjoying the Harmonix Rock Band video game. Live entertainment with audience participation.

If sports are more your style, try Monday Night Football at Match Eatery on September 28. For $30 you’ll get a three-course dinner along with an exciting night of football. The menu includes a 4oz beer pairing with each course.

Or, for just $20 per adult or $15 per child, you can enjoy a pizza dinner and watch the Boston Pizza New West Master Chef Cookoff on Sunday, October 4. Up-and-coming young chefs will square off against the BP head chef to create the ultimate pizza. The winner will take home a voucher for free pizza for a year and may have their creation featured as a BP menu item.


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, paid for by Tourism New West.

Posted in Arts & Culture, Eats and Drinks, Events.

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Coal port planned across from Quay

As you may or may not know, Fraser Surrey Docks wants to build a full coal port on the Fraser River, directly across from the Quay. The coal facility would eventually move ~8 million tonnes of thermal coal from the U.S.  to power plants overseas every year. This is nearly a doubling  of the amount of American thermal coal shipped through B.C. ports.

Photo: David Hadgkiss

Photo: David Hadgkiss

A coal port across from the Quay would not only be an eyesore in an important tourist destination (and a place many New West residents visit daily for recreation), but it will also contribute significantly to global climate change and local air pollution. Exporting coal overseas while attempting to meet province-wide climate targets is duplicitous and hypocritical.  Health concerns about breathing in toxic coal dust and diesel fumes are serious and real. Vulnerable groups like kids and seniors spend time on the Quay everyday (including mine, pictured above).  The Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health Authorities and the province’s chief medical officer have all called for a comprehensive health impact assessment, but it hasn’t happened to date

There is no benefit to BC from this coal port aside from maybe a few dozen jobs. If approved, our communities would bear the health and environmental risk while the profits will accrue to the US companies that own the mines, rail companies and Fraser Surrey Docks. On top of that, it’s likely to become a stranded asset: demand for imported coal in China is tanking as the country is getting serious about cutting down on pollution from coal-fired power plants.

My objection isn’t just a knee-jerk NIMBY response as a parent who lives in downtown New West. I don’t think this coal port should be built in anyone’s backyard.  We should not be making any investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. If we start building now, Canada could get 100% of our energy from renewable resources by 2035. As a parent, I think opposing this coal plant is just as important as the decisions I will make about where to put our kid into daycare. The more fossil fuels we let burn, the more different our kid’s future will be, and the evidence is strong that that future will be worse.

Despite local opposition and lacking a proper assessment, the proposal so far has the approval of Port Metro Vancouver,  an unaccountable decision-making authority with no local representation. But the Fraser Surrey Docks still needs additional permits before operating, so all is not lost. Our City, at least, recognizes the coal port is not in the interest of New Westminster (or any community). New West City council officially opposes the proposal and has signed on as intervenors in a court challenge.  Ecojustice is taking Port Metro Vancouver to court on the grounds of procedural fairness and failure to consider climate impact.

This video from the event held in New Westminster in the spring nicely summarizes what’s at risk, and why you should care:

The official link to the proposal is here. I recommend this FAQ if you want to learn more, especially for more detail on the status of the proposal. How to get involved:

Posted in Community, Politics.

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Three New Public Art Works, All Created By Community

Over the summer I have seen underappreciated spaces in New Westminster become increasingly more exciting, personalized and playful. Three new artworks that are contributing to what I last called the placemaking of our city’s public sites include the “Stop and Stare” portraits in the New West Skytrain station, the Eco-Art works in Moody Park, and the Columbia Street mural.

What ties these three works together is the involvement of members of our community in the initiation and process of creation. Each project allows residents and people who populate the space to gain a new perspective on our environment and how we might activate it in a positive and creative way. They teach us how derelict or underused spaces and materials around us can be given new life and interest.

Stop and Stare

Walking through the New Wesminster Skytrain station concourse level, you now come face to face with some familiar faces.

Walking through the New Wesminster Skytrain station concourse level, you now come face to face with some familiar faces.

In October 2012, Neal Michael called out to New Westies to help create a space of identity and playfulness by encouraging the creation of more Public Art in the unused spaces around us (read his blog here). Neal’s inspiration from the global InsideOut Project has brought about a series of pasted portraits that are now installed in the New Westminster Skytrain Station.

These portraits are all simply pasted to the temporary walls that conceal skytrain station renovations.

These portraits are all simply pasted to the temporary walls that conceal skytrain station renovations.

These portraits are not glamorous, colourful or glossy like the faces seen on nearby advertisements. These are akin to small concert posters or personal ads sloshed up along the temporary plywood walls. This immediate use of materials does not take anything away from the Public Art Project: if anything it only separates it further from something that might sell to our desires. It confronts us with its jarring difference. Taking a walk on the concourse level, you might come face to face with a black and white blow up of a familiar face: there are no models here, only community members. This is a series that maps New West as a place built by people, and it presses these very human faces (some passport deadpan, some silly) toward us as an exclamation of tangible civic identity.

Eco Art in Moody Park

Natural materials were woven to create this teepee structure in Moody Park. Eventually it will succumb to natural processes of decay.

Natural materials were woven to create this teepee structure in Moody Park. Eventually it will succumb to natural processes of decay.

Before I came to New Westminster, I was involved in community art in Vancouver with a few projects and initiatives. I have always felt the power of open participation and the importance of engaging everyone in some form of the creative process. It was in one of these initiatives that I first experienced the work of Sharon Kallis, an environmentally responsible Vancouver artist who utilizes many techniques in weaving unwanted plant materials into ephemeral art installations. I remember the revelation I had in seeing the results of her facilitation in the expert weaving of the terribly invasive English Ivy and Yellow Flag Iris that plagues natural spaces in the GVRD. Her work with the Urban Weaver Project in 2012 allowed community members, First Nations and artists to learn traditional methods of weaving plant materials through the Vancouver Park Board’s Fieldhouse Residency. Kallis and her peers had pulled invasives from a site, processed them by hand and shaped them into something beautiful and temporary: from bowls, to walls, to fluid forms. This functioned as a remediation of an environment on several levels: an opportunity to allow space for native plant species to root, and an opportunity for people in that space to see the creative potential of waste.

A circle of dancing figures are large and easy to spot, while other works are a little more challenging to happen upon.

A circle of dancing figures are large and easy to spot, while other works are a little more challenging to happen upon.

After a public presentation in June, Kallis and organizers Corbin Murdoch (Public Arts Coordinator) and Shelly Schnee (Recreation Programmer at Century House) delicately steered and guided five groups of New Westminster community members over two months in the creation of their own Eco-Art installations. Kallis has commented on her work as a facilitating artist to this group: “I have to say how impressed I was at the quality of work and level of professionalism everyone brought to both the pitch session and the final works created. One of the participants referred  to another in her group as being the ‘real artist’ and I gently corrected her, reminding her that she was now working as an artist, with perhaps a more senior artist as collaborator… [what an] incredible opportunity for someone to have as their first steps into the art world!” Her description of this collaborative creative process as a learning opportunity for any person, regardless of their skill level or professionalism is a major component of this type of work where process is as critical as the end result. The people who create the work are shaped by this process, just as they manipulate their materials that are in turn re-shaped by the natural process of decay. After the public reception for the project last weekend on the south side of Moody Park, the artist-facilitator congratulated our city on this exciting step further into the realm of community-based Eco Art: “I hope this is just the beginning to what could become a strong tradition for New Westminster parks and community members! What a treat to get to play a part in it all.”

Columbia Street Mural 

This community mural has brightened up a dull corner of Columbia street.

This community mural has brightened up a dull corner of Columbia street.

On the weekend of the New West Culture Crawl, the dull grey wall to the east of the Army and Navy on Columbia Street received some special treatment. Members of the community were invited out to help paint a mural designed by local artist Gillian Wright. While at a barbecue a man showed me photographs he had taken of his wife and one-and-a-half year old daughter leaving their mark, and it felt like a glimpse of a special heirloom. This project, funded by a Vancouver Foundation neighbourhood small grant, is an example of what community members like Councillor Mary Trentadue and Nadine Nakagawa can do to with a sense of playfulness, some sleuthing into property ownership and a vision of how we might make our city into something more inclusive, creative, and enjoyable to walk through. So many New Westies will have stories to share about the day they left a painterly stamp on the prominent wall.

I know in my walks past these spaces that they are getting some notice. I know from colourful Instagram feeds that participants in community art are having fun. My hope is that these works are only the beginning and that they inspire others to start a project or think of other creative ways to utilize our public space. Small neighbourhood grants are a great way to execute ideas for improving spaces that need love. Even ideas can be shared with the city: If you see a space that looks like it might be ripe for some artistic interference you can always recommend them to the city or send them my way to share with the Public Art Advisory Committee.

Posted in Arts & Culture, Community, New Westminster.

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Feast like never before from Sept. 25 – Oct. 4 in New West

Featuring 12 tasty events over 10 days, the new Feast On The Fraser festival showcases local arts and culture as well as eateries.

Featuring 12 tasty events over 10 days, the new Feast On The Fraser festival showcases local arts and culture as well as eateries.

Get your stretchy pants ready: you are about to feast like never before. From September 25 – October 4, even the healthiest eaters in New West will want to take at least one “cheat day” to enjoy the mouthwatering delights on offer for Feast On The Fraser, a 10-day long gloriously indulgent foodie festival.

Organized by Tourism New West and presented in partnership with the City of New Westminster and the Brewery District by WesGroup Properties, Feast On The Fraser is designed to show off our city, pairing New Westminster’s top chefs with some of our brightest cultural talent. It’s much more than two weeks of tasty meals: each day of the festival features a one-time-only collaboration between an eatery and one of our other local arts, entertainment, or retail movers-and-shakers to create a one-of-a-kind culinary experience that can be found only in New West.

“New Westminster has long distinguished itself as one of Metro Vancouver’s premier culinary destinations, and it’s time for us to expand our dining scene and pair it with some fun experiences,” said Tej Kainth, Executive Director, Tourism New Westminster in a press release about the event.  “Feast on the Fraser is the perfect opportunity to further showcase the city’s delicious offerings, along with our rich arts, culture and entertainment scene.”

The festival kicks off on September 25 with Boathouse Brews & Bites, a beer-themed menu at the Boathouse Restaurant incorporating Steel & Oak’s delicious local brew. Other events over the 10 days include live music, painting your very own work of art, watching a Monday night football game, geeking out playing the “Rock Band” video game, dancing, cooking demonstrations, a boat cruise, belly dancing, a master chef cookoff, and even a tribute to the famous King Neptune restaurant (New West old-timers still talk about how amazing it was).

Participating businesses include 100 Braid St. Studios, Anvil Centre, The Boathouse, Boston Pizza, Heritage Grill, Longtail Kitchen, Pacific Breeze Winery, Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours, Steel and Oak Brewery, Taverna Greka, Truffles Fine Foods and Catering, Wild Rice, and more.

All events are ticketed, and I would suggest you snap yours up quickly – many are sure to sell out. The cost ranges from just $20 to $94 per person, so there is something to fit every budget.

Here’s the schedule:

Full details about the festival are found on Tourism New Westminster’s website.

Posted in Arts & Culture, Eats and Drinks, Events.

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Biggest one-day food truck fest in Canada comes to New West Aug 22

The Columbia StrEAT Festival is the biggest one-day food truck festival in Canada

Canada’s largest one-day food truck fest is back in downtown New West this summer.

On Saturday, August 22 from 4-10pm, The Third Annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest will bring over 70 food trucks, beer gardens and free entertainment to downtown New West.

Tacofino, Johnny’s Pops and DougieDog Hot Dogs will be back by popular demand. New vendors this year will include Culver City Salads, Cheeses Crust, Taters – The Baked Potato Co., and many more.

Many Downtown New West restaurants will also set up food tents to sell street food. RainCity Juicery and Old Crow Coffee are among the New West restaurants who will join the party on Columbia Street for the event. Boston Pizza is hosting a pizza-eating contest, featuring star contestant Mayor Jonathan Cote!

I spoke to Downtown BIA Program and Events Coordinator Maddison McKitrick to ask a few questions about the event:

Q: What has been the impact of this festival on downtown New West businesses?

A: We actually polled our membership and Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest ranked very high with our members regarding BIA initiatives. The impact has been amazing, bringing crowds of over 50k in 2014 provided great exposure for our Downtown businesses. We are expecting crowds of 75k this year!

Q: How many beer gardens will you have? Who is running them?

A: Four! The Heritage Grill, The Columbia Theatre, The Met Bar & Grill and Anvil Centre will be set up inside but their large window/doors will be open to the street. These beer gardens are technically liquor license extensions, basically a large patio for the establishments. The Met Bar & Grill will have Growers serving up samples in their beer garden.

Q: What entertainment are you offering? 

A: Huge variety! The Arts Council of New West will be hosting two festival tents of amazing acts, including Roland and Emma Nipp, Old Mare, The Alvair Trio, Bryan Michael and more. The Royal City Swing will be set up, dancing away and even offering intro lessons to attendees! Emily Harder, a local singer/songwriter, Six String and a Saxophone, a local New West jazz duo. We are expecting more to join the event as well. A full list of entertainment can be found on our website’s event listing.

Q: Is this a kid-friendly event? 

A: As our event runs from 4pm-10pm, it’s tailored to an older demographic but we definitely encourage families to attend and had tons attend last year. There are lots of yummy treats that are very kid friendly! Plus the Brick & Mortar Living girls will be presenting the Chalk Spot, a sidewalk chalk area for artsy kids on McKenzie Street at Columbia from 4pm-7pm.

A full list of participating food trucks is available on the New West Downtown BIA website. There is also a Facebook event you can join if you want to be updated with the latest info.

The Food Truck Fest is organized by the Downtown New West BIA, with support from RiverSky by Bosa Properties and Vancity.

Photo: Technomonkey Media, used with permission of the Downtown New West BIA.



Posted in Eats and Drinks, Events.

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Happening In New West: July 24–July 30

Line Dancing at Moody Park

Grab your cowboy boots and head outside for some line dancing lessons. T.G.I.F’s outdoor public dancing series continues with square dancing and line dancing on Saturday, July 25. No experience necessary. Classes are weather dependent.

July 25, 7pm–7:30pm
Moody Park

With a focus on process over product, Vancouver childrens art studio, Collage Collage, has teamed up with Reggio instructor Tara Browman to create a number of “invitations” for children and families to try out together.

July 26, 11am and 1pm
River Market

Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free Cooking Class at Polo Health
Interested in changing the way you eat? Whether it is for health reasons or for weight management, eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar from your diet can be a daunting task. This cooking class will help you create delicious snacks and meals that you can easily make at home.

July 29, 6pm
Polo Health

Loonie Skate
Need to cool down? Spend a hot summer afternoon at the ice rink. Summer Loonie Skates are back at Moody Park and we can’t think of a better way to enjoy some indoor fun.

July 6–September 6
Call arena for schedule





Posted in Community.

The ill-defined line between ‘sexy’ and ‘seedy’

Sex & Our City

It sells, it titillates, it outrages. Sex, or the promise of it, is a primary motivator for a tremendous amount of human behaviour from baby-making to bar fights. From the moment that puberty rears its hormone-y head, only asexual folks seem to be immune to the madness; busying themselves with far more sensible things than those of us caught between surging desire and a spinning moral compass. Few things on earth are as heavily contested as sexuality – be it the concept as a whole, or the individual experience and expression thereof.

Even within Metro Vancouver, New West is hardly first on the list of scandalous locales, but our little city does a fine job of demonstrating the strange and ill-defined gulf between what is culturally acceptable sexuality and what is taboo. Continued…

Posted in Business, Community, Politics.

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Cheers for local craft beer: Steel & Oak celebrates a successful first year

Jamie Garbutt & Jorden Foss

Steel & Oak founders Jamie Garbutt (L) and Jorden Foss. Photo courtesy Steel & Oak.

Last month, our local craft brewery Steel & Oak turned one year old. It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that three people inside of one week gushed to me about this amazing new spot on Third Street. “You absolutely have to try the Red Pilsner!”

I remember thinking “wait… by Kirmac?”

So, after much coaxing (ok, not that much), I stopped by to buy a Growler, chatting the staff up about the offerings. From the famous Red Pilsner to the Smoked Hefeweizen, to my personal favorite, the ESB, every fill brought a new adventure and, lucky me, it was just down the street for a refill.

In an interview given to VanCity Buzz in August of last year, Founders James Garbutt and Jorden Foss talked about why they started the brewery in New Westminster. Both were raised here and were “choked there was no local brewery,” particularly since there has always been a brewing history in New West (Labatt had a factory for years in Sapperton on the site now known as “The Brewery District.”)

The idea turned into a much anticipated project in the Lower Mainland, with beer aficionados eagerly anticipating the opening date. To raise additional start-up capital, the brewery turned to crowdsourcing through a “Founder’s Club”  with a $500 buy-in. The initial 40 Founder’s Club memberships sold out within three hours.

“People were calling me and they were upset because they missed it, because they didn’t sign up within those three hours,” Foss said.

The founders quickly decided to open up registration to 80 members. They sold out again within days, and added an additional four spots to accommodate a few stragglers who begged to be allowed in.

“It’s crazy to think that we were literally fighting people not to give us money,” Foss said. “It was super overwhelming and humbling. We were really taken aback by how cool it was that so many people were betting on us. It also added a lot more pressure too!”

The Founder’s Club experience was a good indicator of the pent-up demand for local craft beer. The brewery hasn’t had to spend any money on advertising so far – they sell everything they make to repeat customers and beer fans drawn by word-of-mouth buzz.

Like most local breweries, S&O focuses on fresh, high quality ingredients, rotating tap experiments, flights to get your flavor on, and a personality all its own.

The tasting room features a rich wood interior, plenty of bar seating, and snacks on site. Since the tasting room doesn’t sport a full kitchen, S&O started working with local food trucks to offer a rotating menu along with the rotating taps. A family-friendly spot for a pint, lemonade is always on tap for the kids. There’s even an occasional Babies & Beer meetup there organized by a local moms’ group.

S&O launched with a splash, but Foss says that in their second year they plan to focus on refining their recipes and expanding their bottle distribution.

“This year from Steel & Oak you’ll see an added focus on bottles (we are now distributing BC wide) and instead of having a bunch of different beers that are only available for a month or so you’ll see a more focused group of beers that will be made more often and made available to more restaurants, pubs and liquor stores.”

S&O also plans to brew more sour beers and barrel aged projects, aiming to double production volumes by 2017.

Steel & Oak is located at 1319 Third Ave., under the overpass to Quayside Drive, near Pacific Breeze Winery. The tasting room is open daily. Brewery tours are available on Saturdays at 2pm & 4pm.

Posted in Business, Eats and Drinks.

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Happening in New West: July 17-23

This week in New West: Sing along to your favourite Grease tunes in Queen’s Park, learn to dance Zumba, check out the first-ever LGBTQ art exhibit at the New West Arts Council, or get some pointers on how to write a book for children. Continued…

Posted in Arts & Culture, Community, Events.

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Four music stages, kids zone at 12th Street Music Festival on July 26

2015 12th Street Music Festival

Poster for the 2015 12th Street Music Festival

The 12th Street Music Festival is back on July 26, 2015.

Organized by the West End Business Association, the festival features four music stages, a Kids Zone with crafts and a petting zoo, muscle cars on display, delicious treats to buy and many community groups and vendors. Continued…

Posted in Arts & Culture, Events.

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A Growing Business: The Bloom Bloom Room

The Bloom Bloom RoomSometimes it takes travelling a journey to realize when we have arrived. For Rani MacInnes of The Bloom Bloom Room, it took three successful careers, a couple of kids and a big life change to find her spot as a flower shop owner in Sapperton.  Continued…

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Happening in New West: July 10-July 16


Family Friday Drop-In at Pier Park    bowie
Spend an afternoon getting crafty and exploring the waterfront on Pier Park. Every Friday families can try different crafts and enjoy all the fun spots along the park.

July 10, 12:30pm­­–3pm
Pier Park
By donation

Sherlock Stones
Have a budding archaeologist in your life? Spend the morning exploring treasures and digging for answers on how early inhabitants lived. Lots of games and hands on activities.

July 11, 10am­­–12:30pm
Pier Park
Ages 9-12

A Night of Bowie
Need a little rock ‘n roll this weekend? The Columbia Theatre is hosting a live show celebrating Bowie’s extensive list of memorable hits. Syl Thompson embodies Bowie’s musical style and persona; in fact, he has been acclaimed as providing the most credible and realistic Bowie experience in North America.

July 11, 8pm
The Columbia Theatre
530 Columbia Street

Open Mic Night at Heritage Grill
Enjoy an evening of free live music at the Heritage Grill. Have some musical talent? Book a time to perform in front of an audience. Great food and great music­–the perfect way to end a Monday.

July 13, 8pm­­–11:30pm
Heritage Grill
447 Columbia Street

The Best Ink Drawing Show in the World  ink
The Sixth Street Popup + Gallery is set to host another stellar event. For one day only take in the engaging ink drawings by Alex Richmond. The artist’s drawings explore themes ranging from the anxieties of aging to the absurdities of modern like.

July 16, 6pm–11pm
Sixth Street Popup+Gallery
42 Sixth Street

Posted in Community.

Tips for new moms in New West

Tips for new moms in New WestI didn’t enjoy the first three months of maternity leave.

The hormones were crazy. I got an abscess in my boob from nursing a newborn. My life had been turned upside down. Continued…

Posted in Family Life.

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New Westminster outdoor movies in the park (2015)

2015 New Westminster Outdoor Summer Movie Series

The City of New Westminster is once again hosting a free outdoor movie series in Queen’s Park Stadium.

There’s something truly special about coming with your kids, neighbours and friends to stretch out on a blanket under the stars for a show. Even the mosquitoes can’t get you down.

Stadium doors open at 7pm and movies start at dusk (approximately 9pm). Movies are only shown on fair weather days. If you aren’t sure if it’ll be cancelled, you can call 604-527-4634 to ask. For other questions, try 604-515-3775.

This year’s movie lineup is full of goodies: Continued…

Posted in Arts & Culture, Family Life.

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Pier Park water misters have arrived!

The three promised water “misters” have arrived at Westminster Pier Park, right on schedule.

The misters are positioned right next to the hammocks and the beach volleyball courts, and according to contributor Eryne Donahue (who took the photos featured below), they do help to make a hot afternoon tolerable.

The Pier Park is the newest and most strikingly attractive park in New West. But the heat wave this summer has highlighted a problem: most of the park is in full sun, all day long. It is just too hot to spend much time in when the temperature climbs. The misters will provide some needed relief.

Water misters near hammocks at Pier Park

Cooling misters have been installed next to the hammocks and beach volleyball court at Westminster Pier Park. Photo: Eryne Donahue.


Posted in Community, Family Life.

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Ask Arbo: What the heck is a Hyack?

The Hyacks

In 1861, the volunteer fire brigade in New Westminster, was named the Hyack Fire Brigade. Since then, many other local organizations have used the name “Hyack” in New Westminster.

For new residents, the word “Hyack” can be totally mystifying. I get asked about it a lot.

Many of you know I own and operate Hyack Interactive, which offers project management for digital communication projects for non-profits and small businesses.

When my then-business partner and I named Hyack Interactive, we wanted a name that was intrinsically “New West.” So, Hyack Interactive was born, and joined the ranks of Hyack-named businesses and groups such as Hyack Tire, Hyacks Football, and Hyack Swim Club, along with probably the two most well known iterations of “Hyack”: The Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery and the Hyack Festival Association. Continued…

Posted in Arts & Culture.

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How to report water violators

Your grass is a virtuous brown, your flowers are drooping and your neighbours are still running their sprinkler for hours at midday, every day. What is a good neighbour to do? Continued…

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Cool off with Loonie Skates at Moody Park Arena this summer

When the heat is just too much, New Westminster has a great option to cool off: Summer Loonie Skates at Moody Park Arena.

Bliss out on the ice on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays over the summer for only $1 per person from July 6-September 6, 2015! Continued…

Posted in Family Life.

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Drop-in activities for your family’s summer ‘staycation’

Summer vacation is something kids look forward to all year, but after a while the kids start to get restless at home.

Luckily there are lots of drop-in programs and other local fun to enjoy in New Westminster on your summer ‘staycation.’

What to do on your Summer Staycation

Here’s a list of ongoing weekly drop-in activities in New Westminster that you can reference when you’re not sure what to do with your little monkeys this summer: Continued…

Posted in Arts & Culture, Community, Events, Family Life, New Westminster.

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Happening in New West: Friday, July 3 to Thursday, July 9

10-Day Vintage Sale at Brick & Mortar Living

Roll into a good time at the Terminal City Roller Derby Championship on Saturday. Photo by Danny Ngan

Roll into a good time at the Terminal City Roller Derby Championship on Saturday.
Photo by Danny Ngan

In case you need an excuse to visit this local gem–Brick & Mortar Living are having a sale! They are clearing out their large selection of antique wares and all sale items are 50 per cent off. What are you waiting for?

Now until July 12
Brick & Mortar Living
52 Sixth Street    

Terminal City Rollergirls Championship
Get ready for some action-packed fun! Metro Vancouver’s first female roller derby league is hosting their championship game right here in New Westminster. Watch as sassy, strong and athletic women roll around the rink in a fast paced match that will entertain the whole family. Continued…

Posted in Community.

The 12th Street bread store that’s so cheap – it’s practically free

McGavin's Bread Basket offers steep discounts on Dempster's bread that is close to the sell-by date.


Sandwiches are beautiful but if you’re making lunch for a larger group, the price of bread for all those sandwiches isn’t so fine!

Our family has a secret weapon in the never-ending battle against higher grocery bills: a small bread store on 12th St. in New Westminster, where you can buy discounted loaves for practically nothing. Continued…

Posted in Business, Eats and Drinks.

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Free land! New West responds to affordable housing crisis

For many years, New Westminster has been an overlooked haven of affordable urban housing within Metro Vancouver. Lower rents and housing prices are one of the big factors that drew many new residents here in recent years (although most soon found better reasons to stay).

But at the peak of this latest affordability crisis, even New Westminster’s home prices have climbed beyond the reach of many. It’s a problem that weighs heavily on the minds of New West’s progressive-minded city council and new Mayor Jonathan Cote, who launched a task force on housing affordability immediately after his inauguration.

That task force has proposed an audacious plan: if the high cost of land is what is inhibiting development of new affordable housing, what if the City were to remove that barrier and offer the land for free? Continued…

Posted in New Westminster, Politics.

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Pier Park to get a little cooler

“Misters” are coming to Westminster Pier Park in July to help park-goers beat the heat. Photo: Eryne Donahue.

The City of New Westminster is getting ready to install three cooling misters at Westminster Pier Park on the Timber Wharf near the volleyball court and hammocks.

While Pier Park is a gem on the waterfront, in the summer, the heat is intense, with little shade to be found.

The new misters will offer a gentle (and very welcome) relief from the heat and add yet another fun feature to draw families to the park (as if two playgrounds, a perfect cycle path, sandy beach, hammocks and loungers weren’t enough). Continued…

Posted in Community, Family Life.

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