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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.

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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…

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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.


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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…

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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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Best poutine in New West the Lower Mainland



New West does poutine well. From the gourmet delights at Spud Shack to the Quebecois-classic style at Anny’s Dairy Bar, you can find poutine done any way you like it. Continued…

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Canada Day in New Westminster

Canada Day fireworks are at the New Westminster Quay on July 1, 2015

Canada Day fireworks are at the New Westminster Quay on July 1, 2015

For Canada Day fun in New Westminster, head to Queens Park and the Quay this Wednesday, July 1.

The festivities begin at 11:30am in Queens Park, with activities and displays from community organizations and live music in the Bandshell until 3:30pm. The spray park and petting zoo will be open as usual, so there’ll be lots for families to do.

Then, after 3pm head down to River Market for face-painting, balloon-twisting and other activities for the kids. For the adults, head out to the boardwalk to catch some live music outside the Paddlewheeler Pub. The shops at River Market will be open late for those who want to pick up dinner on site.

For the literary-minded, there is a Poetry in the Park event from 6-8pm in the Queens Park Bandshell, featuring poetry readings and an open mic. Poetry in the Park is a weekly summer event hosted by the Royal City Literary Arts Society.

The day will finish with fireworks on the Quay at 10pm. Gather on the Quay Boardwalk near River Market for a great view, or watch in style from the Wild Rice patio (reservation-only seating after 8:30pm, so book ahead if that’s your plan!).

How do you plan to spend Canada Day?

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Happening in New West: Thursday, June 24-Wednesday, July 1

Starting this week, writer Laura Grady is contributing a weekly selection of events, activities and other fun stuff to do around New Westminster. If you have an event to add to this list, or want to let us know about something that’s coming up, please leave a comment to let us know about it! 

Opening this week

Mermaids Are Real: A photography exhibit presented by the Arts Council, June 23 - July 19.

Mermaids Are Real: A photography exhibit presented by the Arts Council, June 23 – July 19.

Arts Council of New Westminster: Mermaids are Real
Dive into the mystical world of swimming mermaids. Through a series of stunning photographs, visitors will be swept away into a beautiful underwater world. The exhibit includes videos and the children’s book The Pink Mermaid and Other Tails.
June 24–July 19
1pm to 5pm
Queens Park Continued…

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Time to let go of ‘The Royal City’ name

Queen Victoria named our city, but is that point of trivia really the one thing we want to be known for?

Queen Victoria named our city, but is that point of trivia really the one thing we want to be known for?

“The Royal City” has long been used to describe New Westminster. While I love the dusty romance and nod to history of “The Royal City” as a nickname, the name-dropping title smacks too much of insecurity. New Westminster’s ‘royal’ connection is a tenuous one, not something I think should be the cornerstone of our identity as a city. Continued…

Posted in New Westminster.

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Board games, pinball and other old-school fun

One of River Market's three arcade machines is appropriately named "Old School Games."

One of River Market’s three arcade machines is appropriately named “Old School Games.”

If you’re into board games, arcade machines and other old-school fun, you might want to head over to Board Game Warriors, the Hide Out Cafe, Press Start or River Market in New West. Continued…

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Who Brews? You Brews! Homebrewing takes off in New West

Hops are among the homebrew supplies found at Barley's Homebrewing Supplies on East Columbia St. Photo: Curtis Van Marck.

Hops are among the homebrew supplies found at Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies on East Columbia St. Photo: Curtis Van Marck.

Warning: once you start homebrewing, your house may never look the same again. You’ll have dozens of beer bottles, carboys, large pails, tubes, kettles, a propane burner, a mash paddle, thermometers, a hydrometer, and so much more. You’ll start to speak a different language: wort, trub, mash, decoction, vorlauf, sparg. And you’ll become part of a welcoming community that bands together in the pursuit of creating a unique beer you can call your own. Continued…

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