It’s All About the Trucks

It's All About the Trucks-01Moving goods along the Fraser River is a great idea, and I’d love to see more of it. To achieve this, we have to shift the regional transportation and land use conversation so that short sea shipping can compete with trucking.

Unfortunately, our current provincial government prefers roads; it wants to build a massive new bridge replacement for the Massey Tunnel. Some environmentalists are worried this is to allow bigger ships on the River. I worry more that the Massey Bridge is yet another roadway expansion that will make water and rail transportation even less competitive with trucking. The River is already deep enough for container barges; they just can’t compete when truck routes keep getting built with public money.  

Short sea shipping is defined by Metro Vancouver as “the movement of cargo by water over relatively short distances, excluding trans-oceanic voyages.” In our region, that would mean more use of the Fraser River and the waters of the Strait of Georgia to transport goods, and less movement of goods on roads by truck. What’s not to like about that? Waterways are an underused piece of the transportation system that make sense for New Westminster, the Lower Mainland, and the planet.

It's All About the Trucks-04Compared to road travel, river transport is environmentally efficient; it uses less energy and emits fewer pollutants per tonne moved, but it likely has not been adopted regionally because the financial case isn’t great. Cargo movement on the river loses out to movement by road because trucks are a cheaper and more convenient option for the powerful parties who move the goods we consume and export. The challenge is this: how can we close the gap between what we all want as citizens—namely fewer trucks moving through our neighbourhoods and less demand on taxpayers to pay for the roads that the trucks move on—and what we all want as workers and consumers, namely cheap and efficient ways of moving goods between points of production, assembly, and use?

We already move some cargo around this region by water—lumber, wood chips, stone, and gravel. These goods are low value. They’re heavy and bulky relative to their value, and generally not time-sensitive. They’re not like smartphones (high-value relative to weight), new cars (high-value even though bulky), or wet cement (heavy but time-sensitive). I’m grateful some low-value goods are transported by water or rail, but I’d like to see more.

It's All About the Trucks-03Waterways aren’t currently used to transport containers and the high-value goods they hold within the region. Getting a significant proportion of container movements off the roads and onto the river (and local rail) is the bigger prize, but it is also the harder thing to do, especially when municipalities like Vancouver are removing railways.

Take, for example, the relatively new Damco transloading facility on Port of Vancouver land in Queensborough. This is an important hub of economic activity on prime waterfront land, yet all the movements in and out are by truck. The facility is a point where marine containers full of imported goods are opened and the goods are repacked into longer domestic containers. The empty marine containers eventually go back to the port terminals, but often they are first moved somewhere else in the region to be stored and then stuffed full of exported goods. Every imported container makes at least two, but typically three or possibly four, trips along the region’s congested roads. So too do long domestic containers taken by road to destinations across BC, western Canada, and beyond.

Imagine how different it could be if marine containers arrived in Queensborough by barge or rail. Geography is a problem in our region: moving cargo from the Burrard Inlet to locations along the Fraser River by water is probably never going to be as cheap as moving it overland. But short sea shipping from Deltaport is achievable, as is local rail from the Burrard Inlet. Short sea shipping is economically competitive when relatively large volumes are moved between large facilities. Protecting large waterfront sites for industrial use and ensuring those facilities are designed for water-based activity is part of the solution. This can be difficult for communities to accept—we love walkways along the waterfront, but these actually make it more difficult to move goods on water rather than by road.

Imagine how many truck trips could be eliminated if marine containers could be filled with Canadian exports on site, instead of moving them elsewhere? This is precisely what is supposed to—and to some extent does—happen at the Coast2000 facility in Richmond. Import containers are unloaded at adjacent warehouses and filled with export lumber and pulp that comes from inland mills by train. The missing piece, however, is that despite having a wharf facility, Coast2000 is not connected to Deltaport by barge.

It's All About the Trucks-02Short sea shipping can’t compete until road transport pays its full share of the real costs. These include both the external costs of burning fossil fuel and  tax revenues used to build roads. This is why road pricing and proper pricing of burning carbon fuels would be good for short sea shipping.

Reducing the cost of shipping operations is also part of the solution. Short sea shipping is more competitive when it can transport a greater volume (i.e., 100-200 containers per barge rather than one per truck), but that raises the relative costs of loading those barges. So we need to think about ways to reduce the cost of short sea shipping handling operations. This is a complex challenge, likely requiring some changes in work rules of longshore workers and sailors. However, it would be good for the region to have more well-paid, stable marine jobs, and fewer risky, low-paid trucking jobs.

Lastly, it is sometimes claimed that short sea shipping will reduce road congestion. I’m not sure this is correct, or if it is even the right argument to make. In the short run, taking containers off the road and placing them on barges will reduce some road use. But, more importantly, having water (and local rail and transit) compete effectively with road transportation reduces the demand and political support for the road-building industry. When politicians are convinced by suburban commuters and real estate developers to build roads, they make it harder for sustainable transportation alternatives. The goal of short sea shipping shouldn’t be to get the trucks off the road so they can be filled by cars, just as the goal of transit shouldn’t be to get the cars off the road just so they can be filled by trucks.

The Bridges of Stump City

This article first appeared in our August 2016 print edition.

Bridges of Stump City-01

Stepping off the Hudson’s Bay Company steamer Beaver in 1859, Col Moody faced a wall of massive trees—an ancient forest where the only signs of people were Native trails and a narrow village along the river. Founding a new city meant growth and movement, getting from A to B. For the Royal Engineers, that meant building bridges.

A bridge is rich in symbolism: it reaches for new places, makes connections where none existed, and links ‘what if?‘, us and them, and technical innovation. In the early days of our city, the need to “get my wagon across that damn gulley!” was reason alone.

The first bridges of New Westminster were timber structures that spanned numerous creeks to create our modern roads, like Columbia Street. As the city grew so did the scale and complexity of its bridges.

Photo by Mario Bartel
Photo by Mario Bartel

In 1904, the railroad bridge to South Westminster was built—the first span to cross the lower Fraser River. Amazingly for the day, the wooden top deck of the bridge was built for cars. This bridge is with us still—albeit without the cars— and is an intriguing example of 19th-century engineering.

Bridges of Stump City-03In 1937, the Pattullo Bridge, named for provincial premier “Duff” Pattullo, opened. The bridge has a graceful through-arch design, its arch an iconic parabola exactly follows the structural load profile—math made visible. The mid-century modern colour scheme of soft blue and pale orange is unique.

Other bridges of New Westminster include footbridges in parks like Glenbrook Ravine. The traditional offset wooden footbridges found in Friendship Gardens which links New Westminster with its sister cities in Asia, have a gentle zen-like rise, emphasizing one’s passage “over” what lies below.

Photo courtesy of the City of New Westminster
Photo courtesy of the City of New Westminster

The Quayside timber rail bridge is a thrill for kids on the footpath underneath when the noisy locomotive trundles right overhead. The timbers creak and groan but do their job well.

Alas, many bridges in New Westminster are simply paved roads. Gullies are filled and culverts replace creeks in our rush to flatten and obscure nature. What started as a simple need to get a wagon to the other side has led to a loss of topography. Perhaps current ideas to “daylight” our streams could foster new bridges over reclaimed waterways, such as Tipperary Creek as it crosses Royal Avenue.

One bridge that we know is coming will surely be, like nearly every bridge ever built, a design marvel and something we will wonder how we lived without. The proposed Q2Q bridge as it is known (the pedestrian bridge connecting the Quayside neighbourhood to Queensborough), will likely be the longest pedestrian span in Canada. The possibilities and implications are fascinating.

* From the City of New Westminster’s Memory Band information: “Around the time that a site for the capital of the united Victoria and British Columbian Colonies was being considered, “Stump City” became a derogatory term for New Westminster, coined by some Victoria‐based newspapers. The nickname was derived from the fact that the site for New Westminster needed to be cleared for settlement and this process left many stumps in place, as can been seen in some early photos.”

Q10th: the Crowtographer, Colleen Wilson

IMG_7192Q10-03Q10-02The Crowtographer, as she is known, shares eyecatching pictures of BC crows and calls New Westminster home. She is a prolific poster on social media, and has amassed a huge following: more than 10,000 fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram combined. You rarely see the Crowtographer herself in the images she shares, but we think you catch a glimpse of what makes her tick by the pictures she shares. Tenth to the Fraser had a chance to connect with Colleen Wilson to find out more about this emerging New Westminster artist.

Tenth: Tell me a bit about yourself and how you landed in New West. What’s your day job?

CW: A self-professed introvert, most days you’ll find me hidden behind three computer screens working with some pretty cool software that helps connect people to jobs.

My wife and I have always liked downtown New West so when we were looking to make a move last August, we knew this was exactly where we wanted to be. We enjoy having Westminster Pier Park and the River Market close by, and love having so many beautiful heritage buildings in the area. It sure doesn’t hurt to have Old Crow Coffee, Brick & Mortar Living, The Columbia Street Sandwich Company, Big Star Sandwich Co. and El Santo as neighbours either!

IMG_0500Tenth: What do you use to make a good picture?

CW: I shoot with a Canon 80-D DSLR and use a 70-300 lens more often than not. Truth be told, I rarely venture off the auto settings and still have an awful lot to learn about using my camera to its fullest potential. For every decent picture I post, there are likely thirty that went straight to the trash bin.

That being said, I’m working on being more mindful of composition and am always watching for opportunities to add more elements to the crowtographs. Things like pops of color in the background or interesting lines are always appealing.

When I first started, I had a tendency to go overboard with the post-editing but have backed off on that considerably. I still flip many images from color to black and white; mostly because it lends itself so well to my subject matter but also because I think it brings out the soul of the photo.

IMG_6438Tenth: Since you promote so much of your work on social media, have you had any problems with people stealing your images? Has anyone approached you about licensing?

CW: I’ve seen it happen every now and again but the number of people that contact me to ask if they can use an image for one reason or another far outweighs those who just help themselves. I’ve had people suggest I watermark the images but I’ve always felt that detracts from the photo so prefer to rely on people’s integrity. During this past May I invited people to use my images in exchange for a donation to their local animal rescue and had a few takers that actually followed through! I have also had an author buy all rights to one image which she used for a book cover but so far no requests to license anything yet—though I’m open to it.

IMG_7103Tenth: Why crows?

CW: I’ve been drawn to them for as long as I can remember. I’m fascinated by their incredible intelligence, the ways they communicate and their astonishing memories. I admire their adaptability and resilience and absolutely adore their mischievous natures. I’ve watched them play, watched them fight, watched them fiercely protect their young and watched them grieve their dead. At the end of the day, they are a lot like we are and I like to try and capture images that give the viewer a sense of that.

There are a lot of great stories about the incredible relationships some people have with crows. Stories like the young girl in Washington State who has been getting gifts from her crow friends for years or the story of our local celebrity crow, Canuck, and the remarkable bond he has with his human friend Shawn.

Tenth: Some non-crows make their way into the pictures you take, like eagles and Steller’s jays. How do you find opportunities to take pictures of birds?

CW: Wandering around with the camera is like meditation for me. It brings peace and keeps me grounded so I try and find as many opportunities as I can to get out there and shoot.

The non-crow shots are usually from vacations in Ucluelet. Steller’s jays hang out around the cabin and they make for some very entertaining breakfast buddies who will do just about anything for a peanut. Between their antics, their colour, and their punk rock head feathers they make it easy to get great photos! I’ve also been pretty lucky with eagle encounters there and could photograph those glorious creatures all day.

IMG_2923Tenth: The large Burnaby crow rookery has been described as creepy a few times, and I’ve seen a “crow attack map” online as well. Why do crows have a bad rap?

CW: We can thank ridiculous Hollywood stereotypes (Alfred, I’m looking at you) and some pretty dark mythology here. Crows are often linked to death, darkness, or evil in folklore and they don’t do much to dispel the image. Throw in the fact that they will eat almost anything including crops, roadkill, and baby sparrows then add a few stories about people who have felt the wrath of a protective crow parent and you can see how some people might not be such fans.

It seems like no one is ambivalent about crows, you either really love them, or you really hate them. With their high brain to body ratios and proven ability to use cognitive reasoning, there’s more to these birds than meets the eye and that makes us a little nervous.

Tenth: Do you have any comments on the relationship between crows and the urban environment?

CW: I’m no expert on this but I think urban crows have fewer predators to worry about than their rural counterparts. Which is not to say that urban environments aren’t hazardous but these guys seem to adapt well to city life. They eat almost anything and one of the perks of living around humans is the abundance of garbage that we leave lying around. Speaking of which, can we reconsider the wisdom of plastic domed beverage lids and maybe redesign them so birds and other animals don’t get all cut up when they get their heads stuck in them? It’s a pretty horrible thing that happens all too often to animals that are attracted to garbage/ litter.

IMG_6964Tenth: Any favourite memories from taking pictures of crows?

CW: There are so many! Here’s a few:

  • The very first time my buddy Dave Crow (that I had been photographing for two years) brought his fledglings to meet me and they had no fear of me or my camera whatsoever! Amazing!
  • The first time I met a bird I named Sophie Crow who had no feathers on her chest and was the scariest and saddest looking wee crow I’d ever seen. That was almost four years ago and she’s still bare chested but alive and well!
  • Going looking for Canuck the crow, actually finding him and getting a few good shots. Having him sit on my arm was pretty cool too!
  • My first crow photo walk with 2 awesome friends that I met on Twitter because we all followed @streetcrow. Amazing company, great walkabout and some great crowtographs.

Tenth: Tell me some of your favourite mythology or legends about crows.

CW: Creators of the world, messengers between realms, harbingers of death, tricksters, keepers of light, sun stealers, I love them all; even the dark ones that make crows out to be evil and awful.

Tenth: Where are good places for people to go to crow-watch?

CW: I get a kick out of watching the local crows log-surf on the Fraser down at Pier Park. For the brave hearts, a trip to Still Creek at dusk is a must! I’d recommend waiting until fall when the number of crows going back there each night is higher than it is right now. To see and hear that many crows in any one place is unreal.

IMG_4798Tenth: Where can people buy prints of your work?

CW: I post my work on Facebook: @crowtographer, Twitter: @Crowtographer and Instagram: @thecrowtographer but don’t have a website yet. If you see something you like, please either direct message me or send an email to

I’m slowly developing a line of crow greeting cards and fridge magnets and you can find some samples of these at the Bloom Bloom Room on East Columbia. Brick & Mortar Living have also kindly carried some of my seasonal cards and the good folks at Old Crow Coffee gave me my first opportunity to display my work in a public venue. New West is a great place to be an emerging artist and I am immensely grateful for all the kindness and support!

Neighbourhood Across the River

This article originally appeared in Issue # 2 of our print magazine, in August 2016.

Queensborough has seen a major population boom in the last 10 years, and with good reason! This family-friendly neighbourhood has a multicultural vibe, some of the more affordable housing prices in the lower mainland, and many hidden gems that are loved by its residents. With a nice mix of single family dwellings, townhouses, condos, and apartments, Queensborough is a neighbourhood that many young families have come to call home.

Here are a few reasons why Queensborough residents love it so much:

Photo Courtesy the City of New Westminster
Photo Courtesy the City of New Westminster

Port Royal Boardwalk

Built along the Fraser River, surrounding the Port Royal neighbourhood, lies a boardwalk perfect for morning runs, afternoon bike rides, and evening sunset strolls. Gardens, benches, and a gazebo are dotted along the boardwalk where you can enjoy views of the mountains, bridges, and New West Quay. Every Canada Day near sunset, you’ll find families staking out a spot to watch the fireworks over the river. You won’t find a better place to take in the sights and sounds of the celebration.

The City has plans for a pedestrian bridge that runs from Port Royal to the Quay, tentatively scheduled for construction in 2016/2017.

Photo courtesy the City of New Westminster
Photo courtesy the City of New Westminster

Hidden Beach

Located at the northwest end of the Port Royal boardwalk, this sandy area along the Fraser River has been informally named “Hidden Beach” by area residents. A delightful spot to spend a sunny afternoon, you’ll often find families with picnic blankets and sand toys enjoying one of the few beaches New West has to offer. The area is quite small, and only accessible via the boardwalk, so you’ll want to get there early if the weather is nice. The Fraser River’s current is quite strong, so we advise users of Hidden Beach to avoid the temptation of cooling down in the river.  

Photo courtesy the City of New Westminster
Photo courtesy the City of New Westminster

Port Royal Community Garden

Located on the hill overlooking Port Royal, lies the Port Royal Community Garden. Surrounded by blueberry bushes, apple, pear, plum, and fig trees, the community garden is a lovely setting to visit after a stroll along the boardwalk. It’s fun to see the wide variety of fruits and vegetables being grown by locals. The garden also contains two plots where food is grown for the food bank.

The Port Royal Community Garden Association is active in the community and participates in a variety of events, including the Queensborough Children’s Festival held each June. They also host an English Tea Party in the garden during the New West Cultural Crawl in August.  

Photo Courtesy the City of New Westminster
Photo Courtesy the City of New Westminster

Ryall Park & Queensborough Community Centre

Known to many Queensborough residents as simply “the waterpark,” Ryall Park is a hub in the Queensborough community. Located next to the Community Centre, between Queen Elizabeth Elementary School and Queensborough Middle School, it is a central meeting place for many families.

From Victoria Day until Labour Day, you’ll find the water on in the spray park and  locals of all ages shrieking with delight as they run through the cool water. During summer break, a playground attendant is on duty who leads children in free crafts and activities.  

The park is a go-to place for summer celebrations. On most weekends you’ll find multiple birthday parties happening there as family and friends gather to celebrate.

Ryall Park also has sports fields, a tennis court, picnic tables, a picnic structure, and playgrounds. During a recent upgrade, the Boro All Wheel Park was added to the grounds—a 12,000 square foot park for skateboarders, in-line skaters, BMXers, and mountain bike enthusiasts. Complete with a concrete bowl, street course, and 120-metre long BMX track, you won’t find a park like this anywhere else in the Lower Mainland.

The Queensborough Community Centre recently underwent a massive renovation and expansion and is the first civic facility in New Westminster to be certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Gold. Not only is the new community centre beautiful to look at, it also houses a new city library branch, a commercial kitchen, an art gallery wall that is rotated monthly, and state-of-the-art fitness facilities.  

Photo Courtesy the City of New Westminster
Photo Courtesy the City of New Westminster

Megan’s Place

Though located within Ryall Park, Megan’s Place deserves a mention of its own. Named in honour of three-year-old Megan Gunderson, a Queensborough resident killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1996, Megan’s Place is a tribute to this sweet soul who was lost too soon. The playground is filled with equipment that encourages young children to use their imaginations: the large train will have kids imagining they are conductors in faraway lands, the wooden fire engine will have them dreaming of being a firefighter who has saved the day, and the porch of Megan’s cottage is a fun place for kids to hang out pretending they are camping deep in the woods.  

Megan’s family still lives in Queensborough and is involved in the Teddy Bear Picnic to honor Megan, which is held each summer during the Queensborough Children’s Festival.  

The Waters That Run the World

The Waters that Run the World-01Before rail and cars, rivers served as transportation routes, linking cities and regions in countries around the world. Working rivers are as essential to the social and economic prosperity of the regions they serve as other forms of infrastructure. While moving people and goods around are a big part of a river’s function, they also provide populations with food and water for both drinking and other human activities, such as agriculture and electricity generation. Today, working rivers are often associated with history, and the role they’ve played in the development and exploration of different countries and civilizations. However, many of these rivers are just as important to the populations they serve today.

Generally, working rivers are sources of fresh water that provide many benefits. These contributions are usually related to industry and social wellbeing, making the long-term sustainability of rivers essential to earth’s populations. If rivers are no longer able to “work” for local economies and populations, an existential threat arises to those who rely on that water to sustain themselves.

The exploration of Canada would not have been possible without rivers, which helped make this vast country navigable. Once people got to where they wanted to be, the river continued to work for them, and cities and towns quickly developed beside rivers to support industry and human life.

With advancements in transportation, rivers don’t receive as much attention as they once did. However, settlements along rivers primarily use them as channels to transport goods between cities and ports. For example, in Central Africa, the Congo River is the main conduit for trade between countries and provinces in a basin home to over 115 million people.

The Waters that Run the World-02The Waters that Run the World-06In BC, the Fraser River serves as a working commercial route, facilitating the transportation of all sorts of goods and supporting industries such as fishing and agriculture. The Fraser Valley, which runs along the south bank of the river from Richmond to Greater Chilliwack, is home to some of Canada’s most fertile farmland.

As well as industry, working rivers are vital to the social wellbeing of their regions, serving as a source of food and fresh water for human activities. While fresh water only makes up about one percent of the earth’s surface, roughly 40 percent of the planet’s more than 28,000 known species of fish are found in lakes, rivers, and streams.

For many indigenous populations living along working rivers, fish stocks are a very important part of their diet and culture. In BC, Fraser River salmon is inextricably tied to First Nations’ history, and has been their most important food source for generations, along with sturgeon and other fish found in the Fraser.

The Waters that Run the World-04According to UBC’s Indigenous Foundations, Coast Salish First Nations have managed Fraser River fisheries and lived off salmon for thousands of years. For local First Nations communities, salmon is not only a dietary staple, but is of cultural and ceremonial importance.

Like all ecosystems, working rivers cannot sustain communities unless they are properly looked after. The importance of river stewardship has grown in in recent years, especially in rapidly-developing regions like Central Africa and South America, the respective homes of the Congo and Amazon basins. Deforestation and mineral exploitation has contributed to increased degradation of the Amazon and Congo rivers, and overfishing has led to a shortage in food for indigenous populations who depend on those waters to sustain themselves.

The Waters that Run the World-03The Fraser River has experienced its share of challenges, most of which are related to declining salmon runs, and the balancing of industry and environmental interests. If the Fraser is to continue working for First Nations and all its stakeholders, consensus is that private, public, and indigenous stakeholders must be involved in developing lasting solutions for the river.

If you want to learn more about the various working rivers in this article, consider visiting the Fraser River Discovery Centre, located on New Westminster’s Riverfront at 788 Quayside Drive, where many of the issues concerning working rivers are featured in the Centre’s self-guided galleries and exhibits.

A New Vision for New Westminster’s Waterfront

We asked Mark Allison, the Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Sustainability for the City of New Westminster—who is also an active environmentally-minded resident—to give us a primer on the City’s Waterfront vision, and some of the implications for residents and other stakeholders. This article first appeared in our August 2016 print edition. 

What is our ‘Waterfront’? Condominiums? An urban beach? An esplanade? An industrial area? Park land? A salmon-bearing river? A railway corridor? A truck route? A marine highway? A greenway? Sapperton? Brunette Creek? Downtown? The Quay? North Arm? Queensborough?

Of course the answer is all of the above, and much more. There are few places in the city where the water is not close by or visible. The Fraser River has always been a highway of commerce and cultural exchange starting informally with the region’s First Nations and early settlers and continuing with more regulated shipping. New Westminster’s strategic location in the 1860s overlooking the Fraser River has resulted in the city being at the centre of Metro Vancouver a century and a half later. One could argue that we are the west coast’s original river city and that without the river, there would be no New Westminster.

New Westminster Public Library, accession number 278. Photo is approximately circa 1865 and is a general view of New Westminster with a canoe in the foreground.
New Westminster Public Library, accession number 278. Photo is approximately circa 1865 and is a general view of New Westminster with a canoe in the foreground.

In 2011, after a long effort to revitalize a historic downtown that had lost its prominence as the Lower Mainland’s ‘Golden Mile,’ and amid strong pressure to create a truck highway along the Waterfront, the proposed North Fraser Perimeter Road was abandoned once and for all. The City decided it was time to clarify its future vision for the Waterfront:

…Front Street will be returned to a pedestrian-friendly retail street with historic storefronts.

…seamless connectivity to the Waterfront will be achieved, allowing for barrier-free movements to the Waterfront and the Westminster Pier Park for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.   

…the Front Street Parkade will be replaced with new public parking in the Downtown.

…the rail corridor will be cleaned up and train whistles will be eliminated.  

…the City will seek to prohibit or restrict commercial truck traffic from Front Street.

There is power in vision, and just five years later, the City has accomplished much of what it set out to achieve: a large section of Front Street has re-emerged after half a century under the shadow of a concrete parkade, an iconic new pedestrian and bicycle bridge connecting the Downtown to the Waterfront has been built at Fourth Street, construction will soon begin on Front Street Mews, a new pedestrian-oriented commercial street, and work is underway to achieve train whistle cessation along the city’s riverfront railways later this year.

Emboldened by these successes, the City broadened its focus, realizing that New Westminster’s Waterfront is not only a formative element in the original Downtown, but part of the city’s DNA—our defining element:

The Waterfront is the City’s most significant cultural, economic, and natural asset. It is home to vibrant and diverse public spaces, high-quality recreation, business and housing, and significant natural features.  It is an integral component of the local economy, providing employment, services and tourism opportunities while providing a living link to the city’s past.

Our Waterfront Vision is to seamlessly connect our riverfront – while respecting existing industry – through a continuous system of greenways and parks that run the length of the city and provide improved connections from our neighbourhoods to the river for residents, businesses and visitors alike.  Along with enhanced access and facilities, the Waterfront’s recreation and tourism potential will be realized through public spaces and activities that generate widespread interest and are welcoming for all ages and abilities at all times during the year.

– New Waterfront Vision

As part of a recent branding exercise to identify a name and graphic image to represent New Westminster, the City asked focus groups what characterized the Waterfront and what they wanted it to be. The response was there is no single Waterfront character; it is industrial, commercial, residential, recreational, natural, modern and historic. These co-existing characteristics make the city  unique and diverse, and should be celebrated. At the same time, residents and stakeholders made clear they want access to, and be connected to their river, as well as being able to enjoy both quiet and passive and active and animated places along the river. In fact, most didn’t think of the river frontage as the ‘Waterfront’ – that could be any body of water, anywhere. Our ‘Riverfront’ makes New Westminster unique.

Consistent with feedback during the branding exercise, the new vision for the Riverfront is guided by three principles:

  • Continuity. Creating a continuous network of attractive greenways and parks.
  • Connectivity. Providing connections from all city neighborhoods to the River.
  • Activity. Programming and animation with an active, engaging and dynamic series of experiences compatible with existing industrial uses that entice visitors to explore its many destinations and adjacent amenities.


A New Vision for New Westminster’s Waterfront – The Riverfront -02
Photo courtesy the City of New Westminster

In June, with Front Street closed to traffic, the City hosted ‘Pier 2 Landing’—a celebration of the Riverfront and new Waterfront Vision. People walked or wheeled between Pier Park and Sapperton Landing without traffic, experiencing local visual and performing artists, enjoying safe play and crafts for children, learning to fish and ride bicycles, and getting a glimpse of what a continuous, connected, and active Riverfront might look like.

What does the future hold for the Riverfront? New Westminster’s designation as the ‘Urban Portal’ for Metro Vancouver’s Experience the Fraser trail network that spans from Hope to the Salish Sea perhaps says it best – it will be a place where local residents,employees, and visitors from around the region and world come to experience the Fraser and Brunette rivers in all their marvelous diversity.

For more information on New Westminster’s Waterfront Vision, and all of the projects that support it, please visit