Westminster Pier Park Exceeds Expectations
Despite the pouring rain, spirits were incredibly high at the opening of the Westminster Pier Park.
The park is beautiful – it is sweeping and interesting, and integrates places to play with spaces to relax. It is visually interesting and they’ve made smart choices with landscaping and structures. It is not all flat, either – I was expecting it to be since it is perched on the river’s edge. But the park design incorporates elements that remind me of the river itself, like this rolling grass area.
I like the way you see the water swirling and rippling in this part:
There are a few trails that diverge and are made from different materials, which provides interest and different angles. I was kind of pleased to discover some picnic table areas along the back – each one is surrounded by plants so they felt a little private.
There are a few different playground structures, and my son loved them all. They feature very interesting toys that incorporate sand play, levers, steering wheels, and lots of wood. I even kind of like the stumps – although I wasn’t sure of them at first glance.
The nods to history are amazing, some subtle, some a bit more in your face. Along the boardwalk are words cut into iron plates – some are place names, some are names of special New Westminsterites, and some are just words we all know and love.
I ran into a senior who has lived in New Westminster for many years, and she was misty-smiling when she saw the iron words along the walkway. “So many memories,” she said, pointing to some. “I haven’t thought of some of these since I was a girl.”
The amphitheatre area is also beautiful. The images printed on steel flashing is really unique, and I love the pictures they chose – they aren’t all special moments – some of them are just people living and enjoying New Westminster.
The building nicely integrates with the park. Despite the worry I had that the beamed structure would overpower everything, it doesn’t. It fits in nicely and provides a great central part of the park. Those reclining chairs are awesome, too.
I do think there are a few kinks that need to be worked out, and some of them will likely be worked out in the “phase 2″ expansion or in the coming weeks as people use the park and provide feedback to the Parks, Culture, and Recreation department.
My biggest beef is probably the one I have heard the most – the access isn’t as good as it could be. There is really only one entrance in and out of the park, and it is at the far end of a privately owned pay parking lot with tonnes of giant puddles and poorly marked spaces. For me the park features mitigate the poor access, though, and it’s not enough to keep me away. As well, an accessible pedestrian overpass is coming by the end of 2013 that will connect Fourth Street to the park.
I don’t much care for turning around and looking at a giant, dark, looming parkade. I’m in the “tear it down” camp when it comes to the parkade, so perhaps I’m biased. I think it ruins what could be a fantastic urban view of some of the historic buildings along Columbia and might give some of the property owners an impetus to come out from behind the shadows and take ownership on how the buildings look.
I also completely missed the basketball court (the photo below is Briana’s) and when I realized my error, I wished there was a “you are here” type of map at the entrance to help with wayfinding. I can imagine meeting friends from other communities who have never been to the park before and it being tricky to explain where to go.
I cannot wait to spend a sunny summer day at this park (or simply a dry day, for that matter!), and to enjoy a picnic and the park features with my family. So many people worked on this park, and they should be commended for what they’ve done. This park far exceeded my expectations about what it would offer the people of New Westminster and today reaffirmed that I am so proud to call this city home.
Tell us what you think of the new park!