All posts by Jen Arbo

Uptown Unplugged

You may have caught a piece in The Record or may have seen Councillor Jonathan Cote’s tweet regarding a “parklet” going in in front of Westminster Centre. A parklet is essentially a small, temporarily installed urban park. And by small, I mean teeny. Westminster Centre, in collaboration with the very busy folks at Hyack Festival Association, are working to liven up Uptown. This, together with their recent launching of www.MyUptown.ca, an investment into street banners, as well as the second (very successful) run of Uptown Live, is really doing its part to make the Uptown neighbourhood particularly liveable, lively, and inviting.

The parklet is but one part of Uptown Unplugged, a weekly summer series of music and street performers that launched July 13th and is ongoing on both Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 until August 25th. With an eclectic, varied, and interesting mix of performers, there is something for everyone. I mean, check out the line up for this weekend – it is pretty amazing.  You can check out the Facebook Page for details, but I guarantee, you should pop on buy, grab a beverage from one of the local shops, and enjoy the free entertainment.

(Disclaimer: the company I own with BrianaHyack Interactive, was hired to help develop a portion of content on www.MyUptown.ca, and the work, while mostly complete, is ongoing as new listings are added. I’d write this article no matter what though – parklets and free entertainment that make a community more liveable are my kind of thing.)

Amanda Marino belting it out

Amanda Marino belting it out

Gorgeous day for hanging out and listening to music

Gorgeous day for hanging out and listening to music

 

Ladybird

Ladybird

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Food Truck Festival – Let’s Go Eat

The good news is the first ever Food Truck Festival is coming to New West, and it is already shaping up to be amazing. The bad news, for me, anyway, is I can’t make it! But you should be putting August 10 on your calendar and head to Columbia Street and make sure you go hungry.

Kaboom BoxThe first ever Food Truck Fest here in our city, dubbed Columbia StrEAT, will feature beer gardens (woohoo #brewwest!)  live entertainment, and 15-20 food trucks on a closed Columbia Street between 4th Street and 6th Street from 3 pm to 9 pm. Food trucks confirmed include Guanaco Truck, Casalinga Carts, Beljam’s Waffles, Aussie Pie Guy, Holy Perogy (who some of you might remember from Summerfest a few years ago – oh my!) and Kaboom Box.

With New West quickly becoming a bit of a food hot spot, a Food Truck Festival – long considered to be some of the best portable restaurant incubators -makes perfect sense.

Aussie Pie Guy

We all know that Robert Fung, of the Salient Group and developers of the anticipated Trapp +Holbrook, has committed to New West. He’s the lead sponsor for this Saturday’s Pecha Kucha Volume 3 (and seriously, you should be coming to that if you aren’t already – it’s free and open to all!) is signed up as a sponsor. “Downtown New West continues to catch people’s attention as a great urban neighbourhood and dynamic place to live. There’s a strong sense of community here that is filled with the energy that comes from people sharing the knowledge that they are part of something special,” says Fung.

JJ's Trucketeria“The Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest is an amazing testimony to how progressive this town is, and how ready it is to blow the culinary and entrepreneurial doors off! Salient is really excited to be a part of this event and, with Trapp+Holbrook, to be part of the Columbia Street evolution. If you don’t already live here, get used to coming to Downtown New West for great food and a great sense of belonging. This event is a wonderful example of the atmosphere and excitement people can expect in Downtown New West.”

Check out the BIA’s Facebook page for more info.

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Uncovering Creeks in Hume Park

Photo Courtesy City of New Westminster

Photo Courtesy City of New Westminster

Hume Park is one of my favourite parks in New Westminster. Since moving to the east side of New West a few years ago, this park has become my go-to place for recreation. Side by side with tiny Hume Park Elementary (whose fate I ruminated on a few years ago), the  much-loved spray park and playground, dog off-leash park, playing fields, outdoor pool, and wide, sweeping, flexible lawn space, Hume Park has woven its way into my family’s life more than Moody Park ever did when we lived on the west side of town.

Recently, we’ve gotten into geocaching as a free, fun, family activity and Hume Park offers a few of those too that are kid-friendly and beginner level caches. We frequently walk the trails in Lower Hume Park with our leashed dog since she’s not really dog park material (side note: that link is another Tenth article I wrote some time ago about our city’s animal control bylaws – I’m pleased to see that they have since overhauled the animal control bylaws and have repealed BSL!). I’ve also found myself keeping my eyes on the ever-changing shores of the Brunette River that runs through Hume Park, and checking out the herons and other birds that hang out there. So, when a recent media release from the New Westminster Parks, Culture and Recreation department made its way into my inbox that mentioned “my” park, I was keen to see what they were up to.

And it’s pretty cool: New Westminster Parks, Culture, and Recreation department has partnered with Evergreen to launch a two year Parks Stewardship Program called “Uncover Your Creeks: Citizen Science” in Lower Hume Park. This is a free, all-ages program, and it kicks off this Sunday, June 16th. During the program, participants will learn about local ecology, help manage invasive plants, plant native plants, and monitor water quality in the Brunette River. The release states:

The Brunette River watershed is shared between the municipalities of Burnaby, Vancouver, Coquitlam, New Westminster and Port Moody. The watershed is 80% urbanized and is home to 175,000 people. In much of the 20% of the watershed that is made of up of green space, invasive plants are a threat to the urban ecology and biodiversity that support native plant and animal species. Through “Uncover Your Creeks: Citizen Science”, the urban ecosystem will be rehabilitated by removing invasive plant species such as Blackberry, Ivy and Lamium and planting native species such as Salmonberry and Red-Osier Dogwood.

The program runs for the next two years, occuring monthly on the third Sunday of the month. Citizen science training and activities will be offered from 10am to 12pm at each session. Sessions are drop-in but registration would be appreciated so the enough tools and gloves can be prepared. For info, or to register, contact Sharon Johal at sjohal@evergreen.ca or 604.689.0766 ext. 226. The group will meet at the Lower Hume Park picnic shelter (enter off E Columbia, just east of Holmes Street).

 

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Parks, Culture, and Recreation Summer Movie Series Returns!

After the success of last year’s four outdoor movies at Queens Park, the City of New Westminster, G&F Financial and local realtor Derrick Thornhill have decided to expand to eight movies throughout the summer for a free community viewing series. Beginning July 12th, the community is invited to bring their blankets and/or chairs every Friday night to Queens Park Stadium to watch one of the eight all age friendly movies that were selected by a voting process. In total, 244 unique (one entry per ip address) votes were made to narrow the twenty six possible movies down to the eight that are being shown. Voting was fierce, but the clear runaway favourite was Back the Future. The summer movie series will kick off July 12th with that very movie, starring BC’s own Michael J Fox as the time travelling high schooler with a sweet ride and a kooky professor sidekick.

There isn’t a concession, but everyone is welcome to bring your own snacks (just remember to pack out your trash or place it in the trash can!). Movies start at about 8:30pm, but the stadium will be open at 7pm so feel free to bring a picnic and boardgames and enjoy a warm summer evening before the movie starts.

In the weather isn’t cooperating, call the Parks Hotline 604-527-4634 on the Friday morning to see if the movie is still on. Queens Park Stadium has lots of parking and is accessible via transit.

Download the poster here. The complete schedule is:

Untitled

CharacterLeaning_SummerMovies

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Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine: Keeping a Medicinal Garden at Westminster Pier Park

File this under “who knew?”: Western Canada’s only accredited naturopathic school is right here in New Westminster.

The Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, located at 435 Columbia Street is a graduate-level naturopathic medical college. Students applying require a university bachelor’s degree from a recognized post-secondary institution, or the equivalent and once accepted are entered into a rigorous four-year, full-time doctor of naturopathic medicine program.

The school is also home to the Boucher Naturopathic Medical Clinic. Much like the student massage clinic at West Coast College of Massage Therapy a few doors away, this teaching clinic offers high quality, affordable health-care to the public, while equipping our senior clinic interns with essential hands-on experience.

They are also the tenders of a public garden initiative at the Westminster Pier Park. Bill Reynolds, the Store Manager for the Boucher Institute told us about his recent day of gardening at their plot in the Park:

The day dawned bright with promise as we gathered at the Boucher Botanical Garden in Westminster Pier Park on April 28th, the last weekend in April.  Armed with shovels, rakes, hoes, brooms, watering pales and other requisite gardening tools; members of the Botanical Garden Committee met and proceeded with the task of the day which was the planting of our Garden.

Everything went well.  The garden plot provided by the New Westminster Park Dept. was fresh and had no weeds so, with many hands, the work simply flew and well before noon we had planted every herb available, raked the ground smooth, swept the adjacent sidewalks and then stood for a few minutes, finishing the last bits of our coffee and admiring our work.

The Boucher Botanical has been a dream of the students for quite some time and so it is especially gratifying to see it become a reality.  To date we have planted: Lemon balm, St. John’s Wort, Thyme, Sage, Lavender, Motherwort, Raspberry, Celandine, Marshmallow Comfrey, and Skull cap.  We expect to add a few more plants in the next month or so but now the job is to keep everything watered and weeded.  We want to invite all to come and visit our garden.  Westminster Pier Park borders the Fraser River just east of New Westminster Quay.  We hope you all enjoy and we will post pictures to show the progress of our plants over the spring and summer.

Boucher

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New free art program starting May 26: ArtStarts at River Market

ArtStarts-RiverMarket-May2013-LogoArtStarts at River Market, an ongoing free arts-based workshop series for kids, kicks off on May 26. This is a new monthly event series in New Westminster for kids and families who want to get creative and have some fun. Donald’s Market ONE members will recognize this name as one of the recent winners for the ONE prize.

ArtStarts in Schools is a not-for-profit organization that promotes art and creativity among BC’s young people.  At the ArtStarts Gallery in downtown Vancouver, Canada’s first devoted exclusively to young people’s art, they currently host a kids workshop series called ArtStarts on Saturdays. And now, New Westminster is the second community to host this program!

The folks at ArtStarts are really excited about expanding the program into New West, as they strive to provide quality arts experiences to young people in all areas of the province, and winning a ONE prize has given them the opportunity to find a home in New Westminster at River Market. (For those of you who don’t know about the ONE prize, funds accrue based on purchases by members at Donald’s Market, and organizations and individuals can apply to receive grant funding. ONE members vote on who gets the rewards, and this year four different applications were awarded prize money. Membership to the ONE program is free, and there are perks to being a member. Check out the website for more on the ONE program.)

Taking place at River Market at Westminster Quay on the last Sunday of each month, ArtStarts at River Market will offer free arts-based workshops for kids. Presented twice, at 11am and 1pm, these 45-minute workshops feature a broad range of performing and visual artists, representing diverse cultures and disciplines.

artstarts-sheldon-casavantThe kick off on May 26 features a performance and workshop by magician Sheldon Casavant. His magic show is light-hearted and highly interactive;  objects will appear, disappear, and even float in the air. Magic is traditionally passed on from magician to magician, so Sheldon may even teach the secrets of some magic tricks to budding magicians in the audience.

At future workshops, look forward to cartoonist Julian Lawrence on Sunday, June 30, who will guide kids to create an original 8–page mini-comic describing themselves, their family and their culture. On Sunday, July 28, enjoy the antics of ventriloquist Kellie Haines and her puppet friends. She’ll also teach kids how to make their own puppets. (Bring a sock!)

Find out more about ArtStarts at River Market on http://artstarts.com/free-weekend-workshops

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Get to know New West in a hurry!

On May 11th, New Westminster will go high speed. 

QuestNewWest_logoThat’s because Quest New West, a car-free, team-based race across the city kicks off for its inaugural event. Participants will complete a series of challenges and follow clues around the city for their chance to win a $500 cash prize in the event.

The event is being brought to the city by NEXT New West in partnership with Tourism New Westminster and Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Area and is being organized by a small group of volunteers, made up on local residents and business owners (like me!).
“We’re excited to bring this amazing race to New Westminster,” says Tej Kainth, founder of NEXT New West and Executive Director of Tourism New Westminster. “It’s going to be a fun-filled day for the whole community.”
The morning will feature a short and easy race from 9:00 a.m. to noon for families with young children. Though the family race participants are not eligible for the $500 prize, there will be giveaways for all participants and the registration fee is just $25 per family. Using clues with trivia, math, and activities that feature endurance, strength, and smarts, this is a perfect way to work together as a family and get out and enjoy our city. Plus, we know families come in all sizes and shapes – so if you define yourself as a family, you’re in! 
From 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., teams of 2-4 adults will race across the city in a faster, more challenging event that will put them to the test physically and mentally for their chance to win a $500 cash prize. The cost for the adult event is $25 a person. “Quest New West is a great chance to highlight many of our city’s businesses and organizations,” says Kendra Johnston, Executive Director at Downtown New Westminster BIA. “We’re looking forward to exposing residents and visitors to some of the great things happening across New Westminster.”
Like so many other great community events, this one is happening because many local businesses are stepping up to be a part of this fun day. While we are keeping the specific activities a secret, businesses like Hawkes Martial Arts, The Stage New Westminster, New West Cycle, New West Artists, and graphic designer Johanna Bartels (who donated our logo design) are a small sample of the businesses supporting the race in various ways – without businesses like them we couldn’t put this great event on – so please make sure you support them and thank them for their efforts.
The day will conclude with a wrap-up party at Wild Rice, and regular readers will know how much we here at Tenth love that place. 
To register or fore more info, check out the details on the eventbrite page: questnewwest2013.eventbrite.ca.
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SpudShack: Fitting a Vision Into New West

You don’t know how bad French fries can be until you have amazing French fries. When a number of locals were all atwitter and agog to learn that the Spud Shack Fry Co. was opening up at the Shops at New West Station, I kind of shrugged my shoulders. I mean, I didn’t get why this was a big deal. They’re just fries, right?

Wrong.

Call them fancy French Fries or call them by their proper name of Belgian Frités, but either way, you need to head to Spud Shack and become one of the converted, just like me. Owner Dan Close has perfected the art of the deep fried potato stick; both crispy and fluffy, perfectly salted, and well portioned, the hand cut Belgian frités are, in a word, superb. The Spud Shack has quickly woven its way into my brain as one of the best places for a meal and a brew in New Westminster.

Nachos made with Belgian frites

Nachos made with Belgian frites

My frist trip to SpudShack I tried the cod and chips ($11). Served in simple metal trays, the meal featured a big portion of fish (Dan cuts and weighs each piece by hand), delectable batter, and a generous serving of frités, with a pretty amazing tartar sauce. I’ve tried the frité-chos ($10 for the small) – nachos on a tray with generous and unexpected toppings such as pickled red onions – and found them really satisfying. I’ve gone for the poutine ($5 for the small) and found it the perfect ratio of gravy:curds:potatoes. We’ve had the naked frités on their own ($4 for a medium), too, with a side of  bacon mayonnaise ($1) for dipping that was great.

The Spud Shack offers high quality craft beer on tap and in bottles, as well as craft sodas and juices, and just recently started serving desserts. Right now there are two on offer – a chocolate pot de creme with brown sugar whipping cream ($4), and a house made donut with almond praline served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce ($7). It is, as Briana said,  “the best dessert on offer in New West. Period.”

Housemade donut with marhsmallows, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, and house made almond praline

Housemade donut with marhsmallows, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream, and house made almond praline

Now, for me, what makes a place a favourite isn’t just the menu or the location. I think I’m a pretty decent cook, and I’m willing to travel to inconvenient places for good eats, so those factors are nice, but they aren’t the be all end all for me. What wins me over is a compelling combination of factors – selection and quality of the menu and liquid accompaniments, price, location, decor, and ambience are all standard criteria. The Spud Shack does a good job for me on all fronts. The wood decor and murals look good, there are multiple seating choices including a cozier low table set up and standard wood tables and chairs. I’m grateful they don’t succumb to the temptation to use styrofoam tableware and instead opt for paper cones and actual ceramic bowls and metal plates, metal cutlery, and glasses not made from cardboard, emblazoned with a logo, or featuring a plastic lid. While there are TVs (a pet peeve for me when I eat) the social atmosphere and high placement of the TVs make them mostly unobtrusive.

What will ultimately tip a place into “favourite” status for me is something a bit more than the food or how a place looks. I believe favourite haunts are welcoming and encourage you to visit rather than simply patronize. These are places we see in pop culture: Boston had  Cheers, the Friends cast had Central Perk, and The Beachcombers had Molly’s Reach (I’m dating myself with that one, aren’t I?). New West needs those, too.  A place where everyone is welcome, and where the ownership “gets” the community. Places that are open and receptive to feedback.

Cases in point: when I stopped in on my first visit, I asked about a kid’s choice on the menu. While my 4 year old is a good eater and likes fries, the fish and chips is a bit too big for him. Dan was incredibly accommodating, and said next time we were in to mention we wanted a kids’ portion and he’d fix us up. And he did – small fish nuggets on a smaller portion of fries at a reduced rate. He also picked up a couple of high chairs and is happy to put one of the TVs on the cartoon channel for his younger diners if requested. When we enquired if wine was going to be offered (thinking about future drinks-and-desserts potential), he showed us where the shelving was going to be installed. When we asked about a size between the small and medium poutine, he said he was hunting for the right bowl. When local vegan crusader Melissa approached him about keeping vegan “cheese” on hand so vegans could enjoy his poutine too, he said “where can I buy it?”

This is the kind of business I can get behind. There are others in our community doing it well already that I try to celebrate them, and I’m excited to have another one I can choose from. As an owner, Dan is positive, optimist, and welcoming. He’s not trying to fit New West into his vision, he’s trying to fit his vision into New West.

And he makes magic with potatoes.

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The Spud Shack Fry Co is located at 352-800 Carnarvon Street, on the east bound Skytrain platform at the Shops at New West Station. Give them a call at 604-553-2582, or check them out on their website, Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.

We’ve organized a Family Day evening meetup at the SpudShack this Monday coming, February 11th, from 5pm onward. Dan’s agreed to offer some special combos and menu items. Check our Facebook event for details and to RSVP

 

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Shop owner and brew enthusiast, Curtis Van Marck

Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies a welcome addition to Sapperton

There is a significant amount of excitement at my house these days because no longer will my husband have to head to Vancouver to pick up beer making supplies (one of the better known and more popular suppliers in the region has set up shop on Hastings, just east of Main) to knock off a batch of basement brew. Even more exciting is that just-opened-today local business, Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies,  has opted to find space in Sapperton – within walking distance of our house. This bodes well for those doh! moments in home brewing when you realize you have the wrong kind of yeast or not enough hops, or not enough growlers to bottle the batch (although judging from the glass collection under my stairs, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon).

Home brewing has become pretty huge in our house lately. Ross and his friends have started out big, choosing to go all-grain right off the bat, meaning, they are actually boiling up the grains rather than mixing extracts up. It’s akin to starting with grapes when you make wine rather than buying a kit with powders or extracts you mix together. Purists argue it is better beer, and also more controllable or customizable. Once every few weeks, our basement and laundry room are transformed into full-on nano brewery, and I suspect it is only a matter of time before more permanent brewing installations will be suggested for that empty corner of the basement.

Today I popped into Barley’s Homebrewing Supplies to see what owner Curtis Van Marck, had to offer on his first official day in business. Curtis hails from Edmonton by way of East Van, and chose New Westminster as the location for his business because of a large home brewing population in the suburbs, and because of its proximity to the Skytrain. And while I can’t imagine personally hauling 16 pounds of grains to or on the train, the proximity to a Modo car sharing car at Sapperton station is definitely attractive for those who opt not to own their own car.

Van Marck has lined his shop (located at 101-455 E Columbia Street) with tubs of grains, a variety of yeasts, and assorted other supplies like sanitizer, bottle racks, bungs, carboys, and mash tuns. Don’t know what any of that is? It’s okay to ask. On his site Curtis offers some advice and how-to’s to get you going, in-store, he offers the supplies and gear to make it happen (plus a shelf for us wine drinkers and wannabe wine brewers, though that’s not the focus of the shop). Fun feature? A bike powered grain mill.

While inventory is still trickling in, he is now up and running every day except Tuesdays (breaking rank on the long standing closed-on-Mondays-New-Westminster-ism that drives me bonkers) and maintains the following hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays: 10-6, Thursdays he is open later to accomodate those that plan ahead for weekend brews from 10-8, and Sundays 11-5.

You can find Barley’s online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

(If you are into homebrewing in New West, you can also check out the Brew Westminster Google Group (you need to ask to join to cut down on spammers) and use #brewwestminster on Twitter.)

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Helping Others Over the Holidays

Photo by sxc.hu user rosenhamer, used with permission

During the upcoming holiday season we frequently get asked about charity drives and other ways our readers can share the spirit of the holidays with other New Westminster residents. What we noticed this year is many of our local small businesses are taking the initiative to start something and we think that’s amazing. It’s hard enough to run a business but to also coordinate something selfless that contributes to the greater good of our community shows us that businesses in New Westminster really do acare about the community.

Here’s a round up of some of the programs we’ve managed to find (including a few initiatives by various community agencies), and we’d love it if you can add in the comments any you know of that we missed so that we can update this post.

Feeding the Hungry

Paul at the Heritage Grill for years has done an annual Christmas dinner where anyone can come in for a traditional turkey dinner at no cost at the Grill. His staff volunteer for the gig. Give him a call if you’d like to help out at 604 759 0819

Shoe Drive

The amazing women running Brick and Mortar Loving on Begbie are collecting mens’ shoes to give to the needy. Used or new, drop off your shoes at their store and they’ll be sure they get into the right hands.

18th Annual Coat Drive on the Downtown Eastside

Roni and her team at the Shop 4 Paws Thrift Shop on 12th is in need of donated coats for her 18th Annual Coat Drive that we’ve spotlit before that takes place Decembeer 10th.  Roni says that each person gets a coat, some warm soup, hot chocolate, and whatever socks, hats, and mittens they can muster up. She points out “many of the people who come to the coat drive are actually from New West – I see many of the same faces walking the streets of New West, so it is nice to know we are helping not only the folks from the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, but also folks from here, too.” Roni needs coats and helping hands, so contact her at the shop on 12th at 6th or call her at 604 540 7722.

Adopt a Family

The great folks at Family Services have stepped up this year to take over the Adopt A Family program. This year, they have about 120 families in need on their list, and only about 40 sponsors so far. Sponsors buy gifts or provide funds for the family and provide money for a Christmas celebration. Please contact them if you can help at adoptafamily@fsgv.ca or call 604 525 9144.

Cruise for Food

Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours is offering two upcoming charity cruises on December 2nd in benefit of the local food bank. Admission on the two sailings (one is from 2-3, the other is from 3:30-4:30) is by donation plus at least one canned good which will go directly to the Food Bank. As well, they’re happy to accept additional canned goods. The captain, crew, and live entertainment are all volunteering their time. Contact the tour office for more info and to make reservations (requested) at 604 525 4465 or email info@vancouverpaddlewheeler.com

Redbrick Home Holiday Special

Thursday November 29th, from 5-9pm Michael at Redbrick Home is offering a special evening of shopping, nibblies, beverages, discounts and helping the food bank. Bring in any non perishable food items, and receive discounts on merchandise (25% off any one regular priced item or 15% off any one sale priced item), and with any purchase, be entered to win a $250 gift card, drawn November 30th.

Sapperton Tree Sale

The 5th Annual Sapperton Tree Sale is happening December 9th, from 11-3 with all sorts of local Sapperton merchants supporting and sponsoring this event. Buy your tree while enjoying music and hot chocolate while you support the RCH Foundation. Please note, tree sales are cash only. Check out this poster for more info.

If you know of anymore we’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments!

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Key to the City

I was at the Dublin the other day, having a snack with a friend (okay, and maybe a beverage). We got our bill, and it was 20% off. Later in the week, I was checking out a new chair at Red Brick and realized I would get an extra 10% off if I went for it. I decided to stop by the British Store for some sweets and a tea on my way home, and got 10% off my sweets.

How was I getting all these discounts? I have a Key to the City. No, not some giant, oversized, pretend key, but the hyperlocal New Westminster – specific key tag system put together by Tourism New Westminster. There are over 40 businesses who participate in this program, offering buy one get one discounts, percentages off, and other deals on goods, services, food, places to stay, and things to do just by flashing a key tag right before you buy.

The program continues until the end of April 2013 and there are about 250 key tags left available to buy for just $10 each (you can buy them right from Tourism New Westminster or at participating locations) but we have a keytag to give away for free! Comment on this post about how you’d use a Key to the City, and we will draw one lucky commenter at random, Friday November 9th at 3pm PST.

 

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Santa Parade Needs a Makeover

Today it smelled like cold, and I found myself thinking about the upcoming holiday season. I recalled recently reading a piece in the Royal City Record that the folks at the Hyack Festival Association are proposing to change up the Santa Claus Parade of Lights to a event that focuses on Hyack Square and a giant Christmas tree, with some sort of light display along the wall of the Salvation Army.

Thank goodness, I say. Why did this take so long?

Just look at how happy they all are!

Christmas Parade Past – Photo by Dennis Sylvester Hurd

The three times I have attended the Parade of Lights since my son was born, I have had to leave early when he got fussy or bored or cold, and the watery hot chocolate isn’t enough to keep him occupied. We see the same floats and groups march on by for more than an hour that we see in the (much warmer) Hyack Parade in May. The one time we were there long enough to move to Hyack Square, we clustered around to watch the spectacularly miniature tree get lit while a number of politicians talked about how the Christmas spirit was alive and well (which it is – I’m not being a Grinch here). There were no bleachers, no seating, not even organized areas to stand – no way for the short folks such as myself or my child to even see what was going on as we stood in the scrum of people with hardly a way to even get out of the crowd mid way through. My son didn’t care one tiny bit for the speechifying and was bored bored bored. We left, and went home and watched Miracle on 34th Street, drank eggnog, and ate mandarin oranges.

A number of the councillors are quoted in the Record’s article as being concerned about the change, and while they don’t necessarily oppose it, they mostly seem underwhelmed and even somewhat resistant to the idea. All of their comments centre around their own opinions of the parade. One comments that “he always liked the parade”, and cites concern that it won’t attract families if it is presented in another format. Another says “Personally, I like the parade,” and worries that a transition to another format will be too quick. I’m not trying to single out anyone out, here, but only one of our current councillors is currently raising a young family in our city.

In the article, Mayor Wright is quoted as saying “Change does not come easily to anybody. We welcome your new ideas. We have to work into them.” His comment is absolutely spot on. The Santa Claus Parade of Lights in its current format is  boring and outdated, and while I want to support the parade and the many community groups that volunteer their time and effort, I can only placate my son for so long while we passively watch it stream by. I wonder how many people continue to come to the parade year after year to watch the same thing over and over because there is no other free community holiday festival?

Dear Hyack Festival Association,

You have my wholehearted support to change the Parade into something that actually feels like a holiday celebration in the city. You can’t do it soon enough.

Sincerely,

Jen

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New West Activities for September 29

This weekend is a hugely busy weekend in the Royal City – there is so much to do! And we’ve had such great weather that it is a perfect time to get out and about. Here are our top three picks for Saturday family activities:

Support Family Place at their first annual fundraising garage sale on Saturday from 9-2. They’re at 93 Sixth Street, and they tell me there will be lots of childrens toys, games, household goods and clothes. Money goes to help support all their awesome programs, and to continue to provide a warm and welcoming place for families with children aged 0-6.

Check out the awesome new festival mashup, River Fest! In celebration of World Rivers Day, the Hyack Festival Association and the Fraser River Discovery Centre have teamed up to produce a new giant event on the mighty Fraser. Check out the Facebook page for details, but activities include music, crafts, information tents, and all sorts of other family friend activities. On Friday and Saturday.

Stop by the Lantern Festival in Queensborough from 6-9pm on Saturday September 29. Activities include assembling an LED lantern, music, sparklers, and a scavenger hunt. it takes place at Port Royal Park, at the east end of Ewen Avenue in Queensborough.

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Freelancer Unconference This Saturday + Ticket Giveaway!

I never thought I’d be a freelancer, but here I am, doing it, and I am so happy to have made the switch. It is not for everyone but it works really well for our family. So, I’m really bummed out that I won’t be able to make it to the upcoming 3rd annual FreelanceCamp at The Network Hub – New West, taking place this Saturday September 15, from 9-5. It’s a full day unconference style event on all things related to freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. But you should really go. Here’s why:

As unconference camps go, all sessions that will be held that day are decided that morning. Anyone who wants to lead a session pitches, and the attendees vote on which ones they like. The sessions then get scheduled on a board, where there are typically 3 to 4 sessions that happen every hour for the whole day. You can find out more info about the event here: http://www.thenetworkhub.ca/freelancecamp/

Photo by Jeremy Lim

There are lots of freebies to be received (moo cards!), and lunch (from Re-Up BBQ, Fathom, Pamola or Wally Burger) is included in your ticket price of just $15. Seriously – $15. That is an amazing deal. Note that The Network Hub will be receiving zero dollars. This year they’ve decided that 100% of the proceeds (after lunch expenses) will be going to Kiva.org. They’ll be funding small business owners in the developing world, and will have a session on Saturday so that the attendees themselves can decide which projects the funds should go to. The pool of funds can then get bigger and bigger every year, and they can keep supporting more and more entrepreneurs in the developing world to help them sustain their communities.
Attendance is capped at 150 because of space constraints, so I recommend signing up ASAP. We are also super excited because The Network Hub has given us a pair of tickets to give away. To win, leave a comment and let us know what class you’d love to lead and sit in on if this was your conference. We’ll draw the winner Friday at 8AM using a random number generator.
(PS: If you are planning on going, but want to enter, go ahead and buy your tickets and if you win you’ll get your purchased tickets refunded)

 

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Dumped Mattresses KVT Photography

Show Your Love for the Fraser River: Join the New West Shoreline Cleanup

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup™ is an annual event that helps keep our oceans, rivers, and lakes healthy. People from all across Canada join in to remove the human-made litter and garbage that was either dumped or accidently deposited into our water systems.

This year on Sunday, Sept 23, the South Dyke Road Riverfront Cleanup—to register, click on the link— will launch the beginning of New Westminster’s RiverFest, an art and environmental festival inspired by the Fraser River.

The Cleanup is a family friendly event, open to everyone who welcomes taking care of our shoreline. And this year, participants can show their love for the shoreline in a few different ways.

Previously Non-Recyclable Items

Throughout Canada, waste from cigarettes remains the top cleanup item collected. Last year approximately 350,000 were removed from our shorelines. This year—for the first time—all cigarette butts picked up from the New West cleanup will be sent to TerraCycle, a company that specializes in recycling previously non-recyclable items, such as pens, inkjet cartridges, and Tassimo coffee, tea, espresso, milk and hot chocolate T Discs.

In New Westminster, Nestlé candy wrappers and empty containers from Garnier® personal care and beauty products can be taken directly to London Drugs. TerraCycle Canada will then recycle these items into park benches, waste bins and more!

Styrofoam, another previously non-recycled item, was also one of the top items collected at last year’s cleanup. This year, with the launch of Styrofoam collection at the New Westminster Recycling Depot, other recyclable items collected during the cleanup, including Styrofoam and paint cans, will be picked up by the City Of New Westminster for recycling.

Removing litter, however, is just one way that participants can show their love for our shoreline.

Invasive Plant Pull

Kids and adults can also take part in an invasive plant pull of non-toxic plants.

This year participants can take part in removing holly, Lamium, morning glory, purple loosestrife, Scotch broom, and another patch of English ivy—check out the photo from last year’s plant pull.

Plants are considered invasive for a few reasons. One reason is because people or animals have brought them from their original natural habitat to a different one. These non-native plants become invasive depending on their adaptability—how quickly they can grow and multiply in the new habitat.

When non-native plants grow quickly, they take over and force native plants from their home. They rob them of their space, sunlight, water, and nutrients. Over time, these invasive plants change and damage the conditions of the natural habitat. For these reasons, invasive plants are carefully removed to not spread their seeds or other plant parts that can regrow from special habitats like—our Fraser River shoreline.*(Definition from For Peat’s Sake: The Story of Burns Bog, available at the NWPL)

For those of us who love the taste of blackberries, it can be hard to learn that the Himalayan blackberry is considered an invasive plant (Invasive Species Council of British Columbia). It’s dense thicket and thorny stems can be hazardous to humans and animals alike. The plant can also out-compete native shrubs with deep roots that can provide stability along the shoreline. To minimize the hazard of the plant’s long shoots, Jennifer Lukianchuk, Environmental Coordinator from the City of New Westminster, and Cindy Sale, Communication and Events Coordinator from the Fraser River Discovery Centre, are going to show their love for the shoreline by putting on safety equipment to prune off some of the more exposed shoots.

South Dyke Road Riverfront Cleanup and Invasive Plant Pull

The Shoreline Cleanup starts from 9:30 AM at the pier at Suzuki Street and S Dyke Road in Queensborough, New Westminster. Participants under 19 are welcome but must attend with their parent or guardian or bring the signed waiver with them. Waivers can be printed off the website.

Please bring boots that can get muddy and wear pants to protect yourself from the shrubs that grow nearby. Bring either a pen to help with data collection or tongs (some will be supplied by the City) to pick up litter, and snacks and water for yourself.

The South Dyke Road Riverfront Cleanup is organized by New Westminster Environmental Partners (NWEP) in partnership with the City of New Westminster and Fraser River Discover Centre.

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Massey Victory Heights Residents’ Association Family Picnic

Join the Massey Victory Heights Residents’ Association on Sunday September 9 at the Westburnco Reservoir Park on Churchill Avenue from 1-4 for a Annual Family Picnic. BYO-Blanket and picnic, or enjoy free hot dogs. Watch a show: The New Westminster Police Department’s K9 Unit will be putting on a demonstration, and there will be a martial arts demonstration too! For the kids, check out Bell E Buttons balloon clown, the bouncy castle, and races! Check out info from New Westminster Fire Deparment, the Arts COuncil, and the Hyack Festival Association.

Check out the MVHRA website for other info at www.masseyvictoryheights.com

 

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13th Annual Doggy Fun Days Coming Up!

The 13th annual DOGGY FUN DAY is coming up on Sunday, August 26 in Queens Park from noon to 3 pm in the south field above the off-leash dog park—fun and games for dogs and their people. The event goes on rain or shine. Who doesn’t just love a wet dog! (Fortunately there has been only one rainy day in the history of the event.)

A howling good time at Doggy Fun Days

Doggy Fun Day features doggy–human interactive games, such as a 7-legged race (or however many legs are involved with two people and their dog) and the egg and spoon race (which features one person, one spoon, an egg, and as many dogs as you can handle dragging you across the field). And of course what event would be complete without a doggy look-alike contest—dress up yourself and your dog and see if you win a prize.

Of course, the ever-popular (four paws up) “Bobbing for Wieners” contest is a perennial favourite. Come and see if your dog can unseat the current champ. (And yes, there is both a large dog and a small dog contest, so the Beverly Hills Chihuahua doesn’t have to compete against a Hooch-like mastiff.)

It's my turn! No, it's my turn!

Or just come and hang out and visit the vendor displays to see what is new and happening in all things dog, while the dogs do their own version of “meet and greet” (and we all know how that goes).

Teaching Your Person to Give You A Treat

Contact doggyfunday.nw@gmail.com for more information on the event.

Doggy Fun Day is a fundraiser for VEATA, the Volunteer Education and Assistance Team for Animals, a New Westminster-based registered charity dedicated to bettering the lives of animals through educating people on proper pet care, providing financial and fostering assistance, and raising awareness on animal-related issues. Email: veatasociety@gmail.com

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Residents’ Associations

We have written about Residents’ Associations before on Tenth, but I was recently asked if I knew the contact info for the local RA in a particular neighbourhood. We decided to create this list of contact info (including social media). Please feel free to let us know if we missed anything – we’d be really happy to keep it updated!

Connaught Heights Residents’ Association

West End Residents’ Association

Moody Park Residents’ Association

Glenbrook North Residents’ Association

Massey-Victory Heights Residents’ Association

Queensborough Residents’ Association

Quayside Residents’ Association

Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association

Queen’s Park Residents’ Association

Downtown Residents’ Association

McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association

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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.

Briana posted a number of other photos on our Facebook page.

Tell us what you think of the new park!

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Pier Park Grand Opening Saturday 11-3

It is no secret that we here at Tenth to the Fraser are supporters of the Westminster Pier Park.

As taxpayers and residents in New Westminster, we believe green spaces enhance the community we live in, and we feel that the greater good is served when parks and other amenities are developed and maintained. As parents, we believe in parks as a place to play, explore, and connect with others.

We believe in the value of parks. We are thrilled this park is finally one we can visit and enjoy. Tomorrow, when we finally get a chance to check out this park, you can bet the Tenth team is going to be there. The city has opening festivities scheduled from 11-3. Say hi if you see us!

Westminster Pier Park

When the initial drawings came out a while back about the whole “living room” “front porch” “playroom” concept, we talked about it over more than one get together. Briana wrote an excellent post back in September 2010 about the plans and the controversy, and to date that post remains one of our most commented posts. The city has won more than one award for the remediation of this former brownfield, and much has been written locally and farther in the past year.

“ In terms of enhancing livability, Westminster Pier Park’s importance can’t be overstated. As our population grows, New Westminster must be able to meet the needs of new residents to the area and , with the assistance of federal and provincial infrastructure funding, we’ve been able to do just that. The new park can serve as a “back yard” for new residents to the downtown, a place where they can teach their children to ride a bike, play ball hockey or just enjoy the river.” – Wayne Wright, Mayor

Hello, Fraser River.

Local photographer and blogger, Dennis Sylvester Hurd, has been taking photos throughout the construction process. Here’s a great slideshow of that photo set.

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Northern Voice Conference ticket giveaway

Northern Voice is an annual blogging un-conference held in Vancouver. The conference is next Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16. Tenth to the Fraser has a ticket to giveaway! The ticket is the full meal deal – two days worth of conferencing, entrance to the party, and a t shirt! For the schedule and to see speaker bios, check out their website.

To win the ticket, just leave a comment on this blog post, and we’ll pick a random number on Monday afternoon at 3PM.

 

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Neighbourhood Small Grants Comes to New Westminster

The Vancouver Foundation is a fairly well known non profit organization that distributes over $40 million dollars annually to various organizations and communities. They act a bit like a conduit and help those with funding (through estates, endowments, etc) connect with those who need funding. They’ve operated a program called the Neighbourhood Small Grants since 1999, and it is now coming  to New Westminster!

Grants are designed for individuals to apply for and are for small amounts ranging from $50 to $500, with two $1000 grants being handed out in each area. Some ideas for grants would be block parties, a portable canning kitchen, a workshop on model cars, etc. The focus is on bringing communities together. So, what’s your great idea for your neighbourhood?

Applications are due in two waves: June 25 and September 17. Projects must take place in New Westminster and be endorsed by members of two separate households. There are a few other bits of info you should know before you apply, so check out the Neighbourhood Small Grants Program flyer and then fill out the application!

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McBride Mom’s Night Out

The McBride Elementary School PAC is putting on a fun night on May 11th called Mom’s Night Out. The event will celebrate Mother’s Day, but they’re also focused on raising funds to replace the aging and outdated computers in the lab at McBride.

The event will allow McBride mothers to enjoy a relaxing evening, enjoying other Mothers’ company. It is from 7-9:30pm at Richard McBride Elementary on Richmond Street in New Westminster.  During the event, they hope to offer a wide selection of products from some of their own parents’ home based businesses as well as some from the local community. Funds will be raised by raffling off items donated and admission fees.

Right now they are seeking donations from the business community - items that can be enjoyed by the mothers at the event such as a platter of food, refreshments etc, or that can be raffled off. They plan to recognize businesses who support the event and allow them to provide literature to handout.

They are also seeking at least 20 local vendors/home-based businesses to occupy tables on the night and feel it is a great opportunity to sell/show off products and businesses to McBride Moms and the local community. Being that it is a Mom’s event, the organizers would prefer businesses with products and services that appeal to women. Participating vendors are asked to donate a gift basket (which will be raffled off) and/or a percentage of sales made on the night.

If you are able to support McBride School by contributing to this event, please contact Lisa Crozier me at 604-527-9519 or ljb466@yahoo.ca to arrange for pick up of donated items.

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Worth Saving

City Councillor Jonathan Cote has been busy this past little while up at SFU learning about Urban Studies. He’s recently completed a report on rental housing, and it’s an interesting read. Although I have owned a home for about a decade now, I was a tenant for a long time, and the availability and pricing of rental housing in the 90s is what drew me to New West when I left Vancouver Island in the first place.

I asked Cote how he chose to write a term paper about saving purpose built rental housing.

“Finding inspiration for my term paper on housing was not a difficult task,” he said.

“All I needed to do was look out my living room window to see a purpose built rental building being torn down on Royal Avenue. I am not trying to single out the developer on this project; given the economic situation, the property owner made a very rational development decision. The existing rental building was aging and facing expensive maintenance issues and the market was ready for a condo project in this neighbourhood.”

I lived in the very apartment Cote refers to. In its place a six storey wood frame building has been approved for construction. This is significant for a few reasons – six storey wood frame buildings were previously not permitted within the BC Building Code, but the code was altered in 2009 to allow for it after studies demonstrated they were safe in earthquakes. Secondly, this is the first one to be approved for construction in New Westminster and I think it is a sign of things to come.

New Westminster is such a tight, dense, and compact city. This is great for walkability (except someone really needs to do something about the hills) and for getting around without a car. We have lots of transit access points with five Skytrain stations in the city. But we’re out of land, and if you can’t build out, the only place to build is up.

By comparison, I visited Calgary about five years ago, and my brother and I checked out a new housing subdivision on the very outskirts of town. I went back only few years later, and discovered the City of Calgary had crept another 100 kilometers from the centre of the city with another 20 new subdivisions with made up names and cookie cutter houses. What had been sold as “on the edge of it all” was now billed as “easy commute to downtown”.

I don’t recall how many units exactly were in the now-demolished Royal Avenue apartments. I want to say about 40-50 altogether. The new building is approved for 118 units, which no matter how poorly I’ve estimated, is at least double. But here’s the big difference – these units will be individually owned as a strata building, and although the strata bylaws will likely allow for owners to rent out some of the units, this still represents a loss of rental housing.

Councillor Cote says this is a concern. “As I began to research the challenges facing purpose built rental units it became very clear that market rental developments cannot compete with market condo projects. Given the important role rental housing plays in housing low and moderate income earners in our region, this should be cause for concern. Our rental stock is aging and the economics simply do not work for the development of new purpose built rental buildings.”

With the recent news that New Westminster has been selected as a community the provincial government with pilot a poverty reduction program, Cote’s report is timely.

“As I continued my research I realized that there was no easy solution and a variety of policy tools would need to be implemented to change the economics of rental housing.”

So what does Cote suggest?

“We need to create incentives for developers to consider rental housing as a sound investment, and parallel that with more restrictive land use policies. We need to create an entirely separate housing market for rental housing. Only by addressing this issue will the region be able to ensure that low and moderate income earners have a place in Metro Vancouver’s housing system.”

Cote plans to present his term paper to City Council and also other municipalities. You can read the full report here.

 

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Naramata on the River: April 24 at River Market

The Naramata area is on my to-do list of getaway weekends. I’ve not been there as an adult, but the reviews my fellow wine-loving friends bring back tell me I’m totally missing out.

From Discover Naramata: “founded in 1907 as a prime agricultural area, Naramata was also known in its early years as a cultural centre. People from across the Okanagan would arrive by boat for concerts, plays, operas and regattas. Paddlewheelers regularly stopped at the local wharf carrying freight and passengers up and down Okanagan Lake. In 1914, Naramata received a new link with the rest of Canada when the Kettle Valley Railway was completed on the hillside above the village. Due to the intense volume of rock work it gained the reputation as one of the most difficult stretches of KVR construction.”

Fortunately for me, though, the hassle and expense of a roadtrip to the area has been postponed!

Coming up on April 24, from 6:30 – 9:00pm, Naramata on the River, a special evening in the River Market at  Westminster Quay in support of the BC Cultural Crawl, will feature Spring Release wines from the Naramata Bench, along with culinary offerings from some of Vancouver’s finest restaurants and River Market delights.

In addition to being the first to taste the new Naramata wines‚ attendees will meet winemakers from Naramata‚ and have the opportunity to bid on a silent auction of fine wines‚ Canadian artwork‚ and exclusive packages. Live entertainment throughout the evening will be provided by the Sarah Kennedy jazz trio and singer/songwriter Gillian Hobbs.

For Tix ($85 and includes tastings from 21 wineries) and Info: 1-800-663-1900 or on-line. For more information about BC Cultural Crawl – www.bcculturalcrawl.com/.

Contest: We’ve drawn the winner of two tickets to the event using a random number generator, and the winner is Jorden! 


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