Category Archives: Parks

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city’s animal control bylaws – I’m pleased to see that they have since overhauled the animal control bylaws and have repealed BSL!).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).

 

Share

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

Share
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.

Share

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

 

Share

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!

Share

Best playgrounds in New West: what are your favourites?

This Saturday, June 16, the new Westminster Pier Park will open with a celebration from 11 am to 3 pm. There will be lots of fun, family-friendly activities, food and live music.

The upcoming event makes me marvel at how lucky we are in New Westminster when it comes to outdoor play areas. The new Pier Park will feature two playgrounds, a concession, washrooms and playing fields, all in a beautiful waterfront setting. But it’s just the latest addition to many fantastic playgrounds around the city. Here’s the highlight reel of some others:

Moody Park

Located in Uptown, Moody Park has a playground, spray park, outdoor pool, tennis courts and playing fields. There are also washrooms and picnic benches along with lots of shade.

Why I love it: the location makes it the ideal place to stop off while running errands with the kids. Royal City Centre is right across the street and there are many eateries, businesses and shopping outlets — not to mention the public library — in the area.

Hume Park

Hume Park, located in Sapperton, was recently renovated. It features a large playground for school-aged kids with a separate area just for the little guys. The playground is nestled between an off-leash dog park (with plenty of trees and benches), an outdoor swimming pool and a spray park. There are also picnic benches, playing fields, washrooms, tennis courts and plenty of trees for shade.

Why I love it: the large play structure has a wide variety of challenges for older kids (it struck me as a decided response to recent criticisms that today’s playgrounds are too safe.) But my three-year-old was able to enjoy it as well. His younger brother, meanwhile, was happy puttering away in the toddler area, undisturbed by older kids.

Grimston Park

The West End’s Grimston Park has a recently rebuilt playground, a wading pool, tennis courts, washrooms and playing fields. The wading pool is open from noon – 4 pm, July to Labour Day, and has a lifeguard on duty during those times.

Why I love it: the climbing structure is very well designed. My two-year old can easily climb all the way to the top by himself (the look of triumph on his face after he completes this feat is priceless!) In fact, there is no part of the playground that’s not accessible to him. And yet, the school-age kids we see there are able to use the equipment in a way that challenges them as well. It allows all ages to play together.

Queen’s Park

Located in the heart of the city, New Westminster’s biggest park has one playground for little kids and another for the older ones. There’s also a spray park, a concession stand and washrooms, located among trees, picnic benches, grassy areas and flowers. But the highlight, from Victoria Day to Labour Day, is a petting farm filled with critters willing to have little hands tug at their ears.

Why I love it: the petting farm is fantastic with a variety of animals and knowledgeable volunteers, and it’s free (with a donation box at the exit.) The parking is abundant and free. And the size of the park makes the sights and sounds of the city fade away, letting me relax.

I lived in Vancouver for years before moving to New Westminster in 2008 and I’m hard-pressed to think of even one outdoor play space for kids that’s comparable to the playgrounds that New West offers.

What’s your favourite playground in New Westminster and why? Do you enjoy one of the ones I’ve listed here or did I miss a fabulous one that you want to share with everyone? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Share

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.

Share

Volunteers needed to help remove invasive plants from Hume Park this Saturday

In my ignorant pre-gardening days, I extended my politically correct Canadian sensitivity training to the world of flora and fauna. I admired the spunk of dandelions growing in the crack between the sidewalk and the curb, the beauty of the morning glories twining in the hedge and the hardiness of blackberry bushes crowding parked cars in the back lane. I felt guilty pulling weeds. After all, didn’t they have just as much right to life as any other plant?

Then I planted mint in my garden. I love mint, so I was pleased to see how fast it grew! Until it began to take over. Along with the dandelions and morning glory. Thankfully, we have no blackberries!

So, now I know, not every plant that can grow in a place should grow there.

A couple of weeks ago, on April 14, the City of New Westminster began work with a crew of volunteers to help re-habitat Lower Hume Park by replacing invasive species with native species. A second rain or shine work bee is planned for this Saturday, April 28th, and they’ve put out a call for more volunteers to help.

Invasive plants are spread through illegal dumping of garden waste and seeds or dispersal by wildlife and wind, causing ecological destruction. This project will help prevent and control the spread of invasive plants while protecting the ecological integrity of our parks. Good boots, comfortable clothing and registration (at the office) are required.

What to know if you want to go:

  • WHEN: Saturday April 28th (Rain or Shine)
  • TIME: 1pm – 4pm
  • WHERE: Lower Hume Park, New Westminster
  • WHAT: Celebrate Earth Day: Invasive Plant Removal and Native Replanting. In Intergenerational Event
  • WHO: New Westminster residents age 13+
  • REGISTRATION: Call 604-519-1066 Pre registration is mandatory. This is a free event.
Share

Park safety, property values on the agenda for Feb. 26 QPRA meeting

The Queens Park Residents’ Association is tackling two timely topics in its next meeting: park safety and property assessments. Because these are two issues with broader reach than the immediate neighbourhood, the QPRA has invited interested residents from the rest of the city to attend.  The agenda for the Sunday, February 26 meeting includes guest speakers on both topics.

After Councillor Betty McIntosh’s daughter Lisa was mugged walking home through Queen’s Park, it raised safety concerns for many frequent users of the park. The first speaker, City of New Westminster Director of Parks, Culture and Recreation Dean Gibson, will brief residents on planned lighting enhancements for Queen’s Park, and provide an overview of upcoming long-range planning work. Residents are encourages to come with questions and ideas to bring forward.

The second half of the meeting will shift gears to discuss property values. The average New Westminster property assessment increased by 5.16% this year. Receiving the assessment always makes homeowners wonder how those numbers are calculated anyway. BC Assessment Deputy Assessor Zina Weston and New Westminster appraiser Carmine Guadagno will explain how property values are determined with specific focus on the Queens Park neighbourhood. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

The Queens Park Residents Association meeting is 2-4pm on Sunday, February 26 at Centennial Lodge. Coffee and refreshments will be available by donation.

Share

Small acts of community in our own little garbage patch

The Lamb on the Quay boardwalk. Photo: Laura Schneider.

The Lamb on the Quay boardwalk. Photo: Laura Schneider.

The other day I noticed a bunch of Canadian geese down at the Fraser River Styrofoam patch. Why, I wondered, would they prefer to toddle here rather than fly south for the winter? More importantly, I wondered why was no one cleaning this mess up.

The area in question is home to a bunch of stray logs that get jammed into a small grassy, muddy alcove making it a perfect catchall for all kinds of debris.

These logs, which look natural and quite fetching tangle themselves up with those nasties; large pieces of Styrofoam, their offspring chunks and worst of all those pellet sized eggballs that are near impossible to pick up.

I think we all know that Styrofoam is bad and unsightly on our shoreline, but why is it so bad?

Well aside from those crumbling little eggballs that birds and other wildlife seem to find so tasty and then get sick from because it blocks their digestive system which ultimately causes starvation, new research shows that contrary to popular belief, plastic and its chemically gassy, blown-up sibling Styrofoam may actually be breaking down in as little as one year, if the conditions are right.

So the good news is that plastics may be breaking down in no time; the bad news is that these plastics may be releasing all their unpronounceable and potentially toxic chemicals in to our water system a whole lot sooner than we thought.

Well thank goodness none of us drink from the Fraser.

Garbage bagged in a one-person, one-day cleanup at the Quay included about 15 pounds of waterlogged Styrofoam, plastic and glass bottles, cigarette butts, newspapers, a mountain dew box, plastic bags, rope, drink caps, tampon applicators, both paper and plastic, tons of those little wrappers that cover mints you get when you leave the Boat House and, oddly, a coconut. Photo: Laura Schneider.

Garbage bagged in a one-person, one-day cleanup at the Quay included about 15 pounds of waterlogged Styrofoam, plastic and glass bottles, cigarette butts, newspapers, a mountain dew box, plastic bags, rope, drink caps, tampon applicators, both paper and plastic, tons of those little wrappers that cover mints you get when you leave the Boat House and, oddly, a coconut. Photo: Laura Schneider.

And as an aside… why don’t we recycle Styrofoam? As it turns out, no one wants to. Apparently, it can’t be made into much except plastic lunch trays and packing material and it costs a lot to do that. Additionally, the pollution generated by making these lunch trays etc. is far more than making them from scratch.

So anyway, back to the garbage patch that my dog Lamb and I have been walking past for years. It’s interesting because it changes. I’ve seen some really big stuff in there. I once crawled down to investigate an industrial cooler that was about three quarters the size of a refrigerator. My mischievous self wondered if wasn’t big enough to contain a body or some other nastiness.

Anyway this stuff does occasionally appear and surprisingly disappear, but not often enough for my liking. So today I put on my boots, a warm winter coat and red rubber gloves. I grabbed my rake, garbage bags and the Lamb and off we went to clean the mess up.

Lamb in tow, I tossed her over the rail, in order that she may have a good spot for supervising. The idea being that if I fell in or hurt myself she’d sound the alarm.

Once down there you become aware that it isn’t just Styrofoam, it’s all kinds of stuff. And in keeping with the recent Queensborough Shoreline Clean Up initiative held this past September, I think that it’s really important we document my findings.

Here is a list of what I found: lots of Styrofoam, about 15 water logged pounds worth, plastic and glass bottles, some of which were alcoholic and surprisingly still contained remnants inside, cigarette butts, newspapers, a mountain dew box, plastic bags, rope, drink caps, tampon applicators, both paper and plastic, tons of those little wrappers that cover mints you get when you leave the Boat House and of all things a coconut, which I left there.

The interesting thing is that many of these items start to look like natural detritus, which I think, is a plus, to some degree. A while back I was in Hawaii taking pictures of shoreline garbage, which is virtually unnoticeable until you get close. In part because wave erosion, salt and sun convert it to look like everything else in the environment. What a coup.

Again, back to the Quay… so a few people walked by and asked what I was up to, in fact, one person took photographs, as if this was something amazing or covert. I explained that I was taking half an hour out of my day and putting it toward my own personal community initiative. I was going to pick up garbage and report my findings.

In closing, I would like to challenge all New Westmintonians to make their own community initiative. Find something to do that gives back to the community and report back. I’d love to hear from you.

In the words of Noam Chomsky

“We shouldn’t be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.”

Share

95 kg of trash collected at Queensborough shoreline cleanup

This is a guest post by Karla Olson, site director of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup event that happened in Queensborough last Sunday.

Cleaning up the Cleanup: 13 of the 28 participants from the GCSC in New Westminster. Photo: Margaret Macaulay

Cleaning up the Cleanup: 13 of the 28 participants from the GCSC in New Westminster. Photo: Margaret Macaulay

On Sunday, September 25, the Carter Foreshore Park and the South Dyke Road from Gifford Street to Boundary Road in Queensborough were targeted for cleanup by 28 people who participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Even though downpours occurred just before and after, the event was rain free.

Participants came from Delta, Surrey, New Westminster and Vancouver. Local participants included NWSS teachers Axel Krause and Luke Mayba and several of their NWSS environmental club students, Councillors Jonathan Cote and Bill Harper, and NWEP Directors Andrew Murray, Marcel Pitre, and Andrew Feltham (who was also the Invasive Plant-Pull Leader).

Councillor Bill Harper, Rupinder Kaur and Amy Dhatt. Cleaning up the Cleanup: 13 of the 28 participants from the GCSC in New Westminster. Photo: Margaret Macaulay

Councillor Bill Harper, Rupinder Kaur and Amy Dhatt. Cleaning up the Cleanup: 13 of the 28 participants from the GCSC in New Westminster. Photo: Margaret Macaulay

At first glance, participants wondered what garbage could be found. After 2 hours, starting the list with some of the more unusual items, they found a set of house keys still attached to a backpack, 1 chair, lots of caution tape, a door knob, 3 knickknack statues, a bucket full of hardened cement, a nail clipper, paint cans and lots of garbage: 93 plastic bags, 40 glass beverage bottles, 66 pop cans, 91 food wrappers, 4 bleach containers, 17 buoys, 2 fishing lines, 8 oil bottles, 2 tires, 50 large pieces of Styrofoam, and the number one littered item: 157 cigarette butts found concentrated around the lovely sitting and viewing areas that the City recently put in.

Collecting approximately 95 kg of litter was a bittersweet moment for participants.

Marion Orser and Councillor Jonathan Cote. Photo: Margaret Macaulay

Marion Orser and Councillor Jonathan Cote. Photo: Margaret Macaulay

“I was surprised and disappointed to see how much garbage we actually found,” said Jonathan Cote, Councillor for New Westminster. “We saw everything from paint cans to furniture. Our riverfront is a sensitive environment and we cannot allow it to become a dumping site.”

Cleanups can be difficult because success can really feel like defeat for the participants. Every person experienced it. When they returned to the gathering area with their bag of collected garbage, they all had big smiles on their faces until the moment they saw the amount of garbage that others had also collected. It was a difficult moment to witness this loss of joy. But no one person could have achieved what we did that day. Seeing the achievement of the group effort and realizing that people can change things makes all the difference.

“It was inspiring to see the diversity of those who participated as well as how many young people showed up. Collectively, in the space of a few hours, a real difference was made and demonstrates what is possible,” said New Westminster Environmental Partners Director Andrew Murray.

Right from the start when people showed up, they could see that the City of New Westminster had loaned us gloves, some tools to collect the garbage, and that they were coming the next day to pick it up made people not only feel better, but supported. To help improve the positive impact we also planned an invasive plant removal at the same time.

“I’ve done many Shoreline Clear Ups before and that was the best attended, most motivated volunteers, and most productive I’ve been to. I really liked that we did the invasives removal,” said invasive plant-pull leader Andrew Feltham. “A nice change from picking up other people’s garbage!”

For 2 hours, participants pulled, dug, and carefully collected every part of the invasive Japanese Knotweed from one area in front of the Suzuki Street viewpoint walkout. So invasive is this plant that it can re-grow if even the smallest stem part is left on the ground. It is for this reason, 6 bags of Knotweed were slated for safe disposal as garbage pickup. Other volunteers freed a nearby Douglas fir from being strangled and possibly toppled by English Ivy, resulting in 4 bags of organic yard waste.

New Westminster can be proud.

Share

New West volunteers needed for Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup this weekend

Two plastic pop bottles washed onto the bank of the Fraser River in Queensborough. Photo courtesy NWEP.

Two plastic pop bottles washed onto the bank of the Fraser River in Queensborough. Photo courtesy NWEP.

When I was young and living in Alberta in the 1980’s, I belonged to the Dairy 4-H Club. One of our big projects every year was Highway Clean-up. We picked up garbage on the side of the Highway for probably about 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon. It was amazing to see the amount of garbage that littered the side of the road.

Fast forward to 2011. Have we as humans learned our lesson about littering? It seems that we as a collective whole have not. That is why The Vancouver Aquarium partnered with TD Canada Trust and started the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up, happening this weekend in New Westminster and beyond.

Every year tons of garbage collects on the vast shore lines of Canada and across the world. Marine life eat cigarette butts and get caught in plastic pop rings. Also, plastic never fully decomposes in the water, it breaks down into minute particles, which are then swallowed by fish, and then we consume the fish. We are literally eating our own garbage.

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, with the City of New Westminster, the New West Environmental Partners (NWEP) has committed to taking care of two sections along the Fraser River: the Carter Foreshore Park and the South Dyke Road. There is also a group working on the Central Valley Greenway in Sapperton.

As a volunteer, you can take part in the shoreline cleanup along with an invasive plant pull to help take care of our portion of the Fraser River. The Cleanup is about more than just picking up garbage. An important part is collecting data on the numbers and types of garbage found. As a volunteer, you will see for yourself the types of litter people throw out and which have the highest amounts. Having this data helps people to understand the behaviours that lead to littering and find ways to get people to stop.

Let’s do the environment and ourselves a favour and spend one day picking up garbage along the shoreline. The event runs this weekend, but it’s not too late to sign up.

Please visit: http://shorelinecleanup.ca. There is a search function; just type in New Westminster. There are a few different New West locations that are available for you to sign up with:

On Sunday, September 25, the tide will be low, making it perfect for an hour or two of shoreline clean-up. The City is providing bags and will make sure that the collected trash and invasive plants will be properly taken away and disposed of. All you need to do is show up and make sure you are dressed for the weather and for being outside—boots/shoes that you don’t mind getting a little muddy and pants and long-sleeved shirts/jackets to protect yourself from reeds and tree branches. Participants under age 19 must bring a signed waiver to participate.

Let’s put on our rain boots and gloves for Mother Nature!

Event Details:

  • What: The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup – New Westminster
  • Date: Sunday, September 25
  • Start Time: 9:30AM
  • Meeting Location: walkout at Suzuki Street and S Dyke Road in Queensborough, New Westminster
  • Wear: boots/shoes that can get muddy, long pants, gloves
  • Tools for the Invasive Pull: shovels, pitch forks, pruning shears, hedge clippers—remember to label/mark your tools for identification
  • Good to Have: water, snacks, etc to
  • Participants under 19 must attend with their parent or guardian or bring a signed waiver with them. Waivers can be printed off the website.
Share

Westminster Pier Park: controversial, audacious and vital

The future site of Westminster Pier Park. Taken July 2010 by Dennis S. Hurd.

The future site of Westminster Pier Park in July 2010. Photo: Dennis S. Hurd.

The news came out today that the Westminster Pier Park project is a finalist in the Canadian Urban Institute Brownie Awards (Update: We won in the categories of sustainable remediation technologies and technical innovation!), which recognize leadership and innovation in sustainable remediation technologies and excellence in neighbourhood project development. It rekindled in me the pride I felt in our city when I first heard about the proposal for this project. I was also reminded, however, that no matter how successful the park might be, it is likely to remain highly controversial in the near future.

Perhaps nothing better symbolizes New Westminster’s often polarizing politics than the Westminster Pier Park project. The ambitious, even audacious, $25-million project involves reclaiming a long stretch of blighted brownfield bordering the Fraser River for a new public park.

A 3D visualization of the complete Westminster Pier Park

A 3D visualization of the complete Westminster Pier Park

Even with two-thirds of the project bill covered by the federal and provincial governments, critics of the project blanch at the price tag, and fear that the cost could balloon if the site proves to be more contaminated than expected. But even at this cost, even if the cost goes up, what better omen for the future of New Westminster than to transform a tragically damaged ecosystem into a verdant oasis downtown?

This isn’t just another local park project. Westminster Pier Park is another beacon of hope that transformation can occur, that the mistakes of the past can be reconciled if not undone. As one of the oldest cities in B.C., the New Westminster of today is burdened with many mistakes made in the past, not only contaminated sites but forgotten cemeteries, historic institutionalized racism, and more. The true test of our city’s (and citizens’) character is what we collectively choose to do about it.

As John Wooden famously said, “If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not doing anything.” I don’t believe in heaping ashes on our heads over mistakes made by those who lived here long ago. All anyone can ever do is make decisions based on the best information available at the time. If our forefathers knew then what we know now, I’m sure they would have made some different choices.

Saddled with the mistakes of the past, it is up to us to decide whether we take responsibility to correct those things we do have the power to affect today. Ignoring New Westminster’s brownfields is an unjustifiable abdication of our responsibility to this place we love. I am proud to live in a city that has the chutzpah to take on the challenge of rehabilitating abused sites like these when it would be so easy to simply look away.

Share

Knit in the Park!

The Knit 1 Take 2 knitting group that meets Sundays at Waves Coffee is holding their Second Annual Knit in the Park this Sunday, September 18th, from noon to 4. They’ll be meeting at the bandshell rain or shine and activities include the very fun Yarn Steal and a Potluck. From their email:

If you want to participate in the yarn steal please bring 100 grams of yarn, wrapped.  Please select a yarn you’d enjoy knitting. The event is also picnic pot luck. Since this is a picnic please choose food that’s easy to serve and doesn’t need heating or refrigeration.  Please bring enough food to serve 5-6 people.  To be more environmental this time, please bring a reusable plate, cup and utensils.

Knitters of all levels are welcome to join the festivities.  For more information, visit http://www.knit1take2.com or email knit1take2@gmail.com.

PS: The Terry Fox run is also happening in the park that day, but is expected to be wrapped up by noon.


Share

Kids’ Activities in the Summer

The Early Childhood Development Committee (for children ages 0-6) and the Middle Childhood Development Committee (6-12) are looking for input for their upcoming Summer Activity Guide. Do you have an event or group you’d like to share?

Stayin' Cool

“I am really interested in getting information back from smaller groups that might not already be connected to any of our committees,” says Betina Ali, the co-chair of the Middle Childhood Development Committee.

The two committees are jointly working on a summer calendar that will be distributed throughout the City (at schools, recreation centres, community service providers…) to provide families with children 0 – 12 information on what is going on in the City from June to August when schools are out. They do not intend to duplicate all the information that is currently being printed and distributed, but rather, they plan to bring everything together in one place as a resource for families. They  hope the book will be filled with lots of FREE family oriented events.

Space is limited so priority will be given to New Westminster-based programs/events/activities.

Please email bali@sd40.bc.ca for more info or to submit your activity.

Share

First annual Summerfest in Grimston Park a big success!

Crowds gather to watch E.T. on an outdoor movie screen at Summerfest in Grimston Park. Photo: Harry Pehkonen.

Crowds gather to watch E.T. on an outdoor movie screen at Summerfest in Grimston Park. Photo: Harry Pehkonen.

Well, Summerfest in Grimston Park was a great success! Thanks to everyone who came. The turnout surpassed our expectations. We estimated that we had about 500 people at the movie alone, and maybe 1000 over the course of the afternoon. Our sleepy little West End park was packed with happy families!

The organizing committee for the 2010 event (MaryAnn Mortensen, Gavin McLeod, Renee Chadwick from NWPCR & me) are planning to do it again next year. We’d like to hear feedback from those who attended. If you were there, or even if you weren’t, we’d appreciate you letting us know what you liked about this year’s event, and share any suggestions on things we could add or change next year. You can comment on this post, or email us at info@tenthtothefraser.ca.

Here are some photos from the day:

Kids frolicking in the new playground at Grimston. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Kids frolicking in the new playground at Grimston. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Ron Ulrich, performing at Summerfest. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

Ron Ulrich, performing at Summerfest. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

My family was among many who gathered for a picnic & some playtime in the park before the movie. Photo: Richard Tomkinson.

My family was among many who gathered for a picnic & some playtime in the park before the movie. Photo: Richard Tomkinson.

A happy customer (my husband's second cousin) shows off facepainter Allyson Grant's handiwork. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

A happy customer (my husband's second cousin) shows off facepainter Allyson Grant's handiwork. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

Settling in to watch E.T. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

Settling in to watch E.T. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

Another view of the movie crowd. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

Another view of the movie crowd. Photo: Will Tomkinson.

And here is a slideshow of photos shared on Flickr. If you want to share yours with us, please tag them “Summerfest” and “New Westminster” and they will appear in the slideshow below.

Share

Free music, movie & family fun at Summerfest in Grimston Park July 17

Exploring the new playground at Grimston Park, on 7th Ave. at 19th St. in New Westminster. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Bring your swimsuits and a picnic blanket to Grimston Park on Saturday, July 17 for Summerfest, a new community celebration in New Westminster’s West End. Enjoy a family-friendly evening of play and live music, shop the mini-Farmer’s Market, and finish the evening off with a special free screening of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial under the stars.

The festival kicks off at 4 p.m. with the opening of the mini-Farmer’s Market, run by the Royal City Farmer’s Market, featuring fresh produce, artisan bread, hot samosas, unique beer-infused hot dogs and more. Papa Dave’s Pizza will sell fresh pizza on site, and Village Coffee Lounge will offer coffee by donation.

Summerfest will feature free live music including Royal City Farmers Market favourites Ross Werlick on steel guitar, Chris Messytone on accordion, Ron Ulrich’s classic pop-rock covers, blues band Delta Blue, and folk singer-songwriter Gillian Hobbs.

Grimston Park boasts a brand-new playground for kids to explore, as well as a large wading pool, open late this day only. There will also be water play activities and kids’ crafts led by New Westminster Parks, Culture & Recreation staff and preschool activities by School District 43’s Strong Start program. Kids and grown-ups can also lend a hand in completing the final piece in an award-winning series of mosaic art installations on 12th St.

Finally, at 9:30 p.m., families will gather on the grass to munch on free popcorn from Community Savings Credit Union and enjoy the classic Steven Spielberg film E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial and view the Fraser Fest fireworks.

As the only public gathering place in the West End, Grimston Park is the heart of the community, says Summerfest organizer MaryAnn Mortensen.

“For me, Grimston Park is the West End’s meeting place for adults, kids, nature and dog lovers alike,” says Mortensen. “It’s so much more than a park, it’s a place to connect with others.”

Summerfest is brought to you by Tenth to the Fraser, the West End Residents’ Association, the West End Business Association and New Westminster Parks, Culture & Recreation.

Sponsors of the festival include Derrick Thornhill from Park Georgia Realty, The New Westminster Newsleader, Community Savings Credit Union, and New Westminster MLA Dawn Black.

IN BRIEF:
WHAT: Summerfest in Grimston Park, a community picnic & celebration featuring a free screening of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, live music, mini-Farmer’s Market and children’s activities.
WHEN: July 17, 2010 from 4-11:30pm
WHERE: Grimston Park, 7th Ave. at 19th St., New Westminster

Share

What are your memories of Grimston Park?

18-month-old Wesley shows off an autumn 'treasure' found at Grimston Park. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

18-month-old Wesley shows off an autumn 'treasure' found at Grimston Park. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

New Westminster Museum & Archvies’ Rob McCullough is working on creating an interpretive panel about the history of Grimston Park to be unveiled at the inaugural Summerfest in Grimston Park, Saturday, July 17. Rob is currently seeking photos, stories and comments from those who have enjoyed the park over the years since it opened. Please comment on this post, share photos on our Facebook page, or email your comments to rjmcculloch@newwestcity.ca if you’d like to participate.

For 150 years the City of New Westminster has achieved much to be proud of. Mainly through the dedicated efforts of City residents like Douglas Grimston, New Westminster can boast a broad variety of green spaces, parks, arenas and playing fields. Many of these spaces would not exist had he not decided to act as a community voice; speaking to the needs of the City for healthy recreation opportunities. The City acknowledged this by renaming a park after Grimston in 1955.

West End residents rally in 2008 to preserve Grimston Park after word gets out that it could be the site of a new school. Photo: Will Tomkinson

West End residents rally in 2008 to preserve Grimston Park after word gets out that it could be the site of a new school. Photo: Will Tomkinson

Just over 50 years later a group of New Westminster residents rallied together to save Grimston Park as it might become the site for a new school. Their voice was heard and today the park is experiencing a renewal. The new adventure park with its play structures are being unveiled on July 17, 2010 and the voices of those residents who rallied to save the park should be heard alongside the rest of its story.

Our City’s history is the voice of its community and dedicated residents. All too often key components of our story have been missed or overlooked simply because no one thought to record them. Please take some time to put a few brief sentences together on what Grimston Park means to you and your family. These words will become part of the legacy you leave behind as members of our community. If you have any images of you and your family enjoying Grimston Park or rallying to save it please include them with your words so they might be incorporated into our interpretive panel for the park opening on July 17th.

Share

Revamped Grimston Park playground & wading pool open for play

New playground at Grimston Park

New playground at Grimston Park

The new playground at Grimston Park is now open, and it is AWESOME. The park’s designers have done an incredible job creating a welcoming and imaginative space to play for kids of all ages. While the temporary fence is still partially up, and there’s still some work to do (laying sod, painting the wading pool), the playground and pool are now open for play.

As the organizer of a new summer festival in the park (Summerfest, on Saturday, July 17), I am relieved to say that the new playground is far better than the old!

The wading pool feels more integrated with the overall playground. Instead of two separate play areas, elements of water play continue through the park. When the wading pool drains at 4pm, the water goes sluicing through an artificial “river” channel. The channel is dammed in two places with gates for the kids to open and close.

The tires from the original playground have been integrated into the new design

The new playground is safer, but it does not sacrifice fun. For kids who want to push the limits of their bodies, there are two climbing walls, and lots of ways to climb up high and jump back down. It’s simply much harder for smaller kids to get really hurt during ordinary play. As a mom of a three-year-old and eight-month-old, I am very thankful for this.

I always felt that the old park wasn’t very good for small kids, because the adventure playground was so high off the ground. The new adventure playground is a series of stepped platforms – far safer than the old one megaladder. Inside the playground are hidden a number of sweet little features to trigger imaginative play: quiet nooks, windows, a steering wheel, little seats, and more. The new structure also reveals a better view than I remember from the old park. The equipment is placed in such a way to draw your eye in a kind of view corridor, whereas the old playground kind of blocked the ground-level view.

A play area geared to younger kids includes a giant sandbox, bouncers, swings and diggers.

A play area geared to younger kids includes a giant sandbox, bouncers, swings and diggers.

Having two to care for, I’m also pleased that there are several good spots to play closely with the younger one while being able to keep an eye on the eldest. For instance, the toddler area is also a giant sandbox where kids of any age can play. Located next to the wading pool, and bordered with a “boardwalk” it feels very beach-y. There are two diggers, a couple of bouncers and a set of baby swings in the sand, and lots of room for free play to dig, roll, scoop and dump.

I love living in New Westminster’s West End. It’s such a neighbourly place. That said, this part of New West lacks amenities. In a city of only six square miles, it doesn’t take long to access other neighbourhoods’ parks, pools, community centres and so on, but it’s important to provide spaces where neighbours naturally meet and grow closer. In the West End Grimston Park is that place. It’s nice to have it back.

Share

Making a Neighbourhood

I’ve spent the past three or four months deeply involved in the process of selling our townhouse and buying a house; a real house, with a yard, and a non-matching-with-your-neighbour-front-door and, importantly, no strata council. It’s been an extremely complex process complete with volatile mood swings and nail biting moments but all, as they say, has come out in the wash and sometime in July I will be saying goodbye to my beloved Brow of the Hill and jumping rather headfirst into a new neighbourhood I know only secondhand: Sapperton.

Sky Above Hume Park by Graham Ballantyne via Flickr

When we bought this place five years ago after a long string of rentals (most memorable was the 4 years in an apartment in the Downtown neighbourhood) I had already nomadically traipsed across a lot of New West: Moody Park, the West End, Downtown, and Uptown. Our realtor assured us it was an up-and-coming neighbourhood, that it was a great complex, a great location, good schools and all sorts of other selling features. And he wasn’t wrong. It’s all this and more including nice neighbours that stop and say hi, people who care. We’ve been good Brow of the Hill ambassadors, telling people about its walkability, it’s great traits.  I wish I had gotten involved in the Residents’ Association but hindsight is 20/20 and I seem to run out of time. I have felt connected here and will be a bit nostalgic when the moving truck pulls up and trundles across our tiny city to our new, unexplored neighbourhood.

I spend a lot of time these days wondering: what does it take to make a neighbourhood something more than a collection of homes? How do you turn a residential neighbourhood into a community? Friends who live in Sapperton praise its friendly people, its convenient shopping, its great location. There is often a lot of mention of the history of the area, the timeline and the former residents. The City of New Westminster’s website provides me with a great deal of information about some of the new development in the area, as does the marketing website for a new planned neighbourhood. Others tell me there is great walking trails, and it’s hard to deny the attraction of Hume Park – I don’t even know what all is in there (holy cow, it’s 31 acres!).

Sapperton Sunset by Ann Badjura via Flickr (BelCan75)

I have been following the street full of neighbours in Glenbrook North who have embarked on a Zero Waste Challenge and I admit freely that I long for a neighbourhood like that, where neighbours pull together to make a difference not just in their house, but on their street, together, as a group. (You know, “the people, united, will never be defeated” et cetera.) Elsewhere in our little city, a friend of mine has a block party twice a year with her New West neighbours. They apply for a permit to close their little road, drag out the BBQs and the folding tables and chairs, set up a pot luck sharing table of incredible food, and spend a lovely evening in the company of their neighbours – laughing, talking, communicating. It’s something they look forward to and the sense of community and caring is palpable. Kids, adults and even pets mingle.

I guess the short answer is that people have to make up their own communities. It’s up to each individual to make it all happen, I suppose. But how does one start? How to reach out to the people who share space and say “hello, I’m friendly, I promise not to bite”? In this world where we as a society tend to err on the side of suspicion and paranoia about the motives of our fellow humans, how do you start that process of creating a bond? I think we are lucky in our small town feeling city in that many of us try hard to not be suspicious and trust no one; rather, I’m proud that many New Westminster residents see through that and reach out hands to introduce ourselves to one another for no other reason than it’s the neighbourly thing to do.

Share

Westminster Pier Park Open House

Future Home, by Dennis Sylvester Hurd via flickr

Future Home, by Dennis Sylvester Hurd via flickr

I know some people out there aren’t on board with the City of New Westminster’s decision a while back to purchase the land along the waterfront of the Fraser River. But, like the Olympics, the decision was made, it’s inevitable, and you either have to quietly rage about it or just get on with trying to enjoy it.

Admittedly, I’ve always been one of the supporters of the decision to purchase the land and do something - anything – with it. I can’t stand looking at the wasteland that is that stretch of the Fraser, and I can’t stand the idea that it was just going to sit there and rot. So, I’ve always been “Yay City!” about the whole thing. Yes, I know it cost a lot of money. But so does more or less anything these days, and the addition of park space is win win.

So when we here at Tenth to the Fraser got an email from the very helpful Carolyn Armanini from the Planing Department at the City, with info about the open houses and links and all sorts of other stuff, I had to drop what I was doing and go have a good look.

Here’s a page with all sorts of linky goodness about the project. The important info missing from that page is that there is an Open House and Workshop to finalize the Park Master Plan scheduled for March 17th, 2010 and if you want to have questions answered or find out more or have your say, that’s your chance to do it.

Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Time: Open House 4:30-6:00 pm (drop-in, Front foyer)

Workshop 6:00-8:30 pm (Council Chamber)

Location: City Hall, 511 Royal Avenue, New Westminster

Now. Let’s talk about the design. Here’s the current proposed design concept and rationale, and if you go and have a look at that, you’ll see a few interesting things. They’re running with a thematic design of three areas:  ”Front Porch”, “City Living Room”, and “City Play Room” (check out page 11 of the proposed design package), with activities and structures to accommodate that theme.  They’ve incorporated historical elements, ecological elements and places for festivals or play. Can you imagine a summer music festival there? Where you can bring your kids and play at the playground as the sounds of music and the river fill the air?

I grew up on the Island, and Nanaimo has Swy-a-lana Lagoon near the centre of the city as their nod to an oceanfront town. Swy-a-lana is always busy and features, among other things, a tidal pool, terraced tidal steps, lawns for bocce and other games, and a playground. It’s always been a nice, downtown park in a city laid out like a hub.

But New Westminster is a riverfront city, first and foremost, and the Westminster Pier Park design reflects that. First, and most obviously, it’s on the river. Second, it contains elements of history, ecology, and the future. And third, its proposed elements are actually useful – playing fields, water parks, day moorage places, children’s play areas… these are all things the City desperately needs more of as the demographic of New Westminster changes.

Today, I’m in love with my city.

What do you think?

Share

Questions from readers: Why so few adult-oriented classes at NWPR?

Recently, we put the call out to our readers to submit the questions about local matters that have you stumped. Today, we’ve got the answer to a question from Kathryn Berry: “Why are there are so few recreational classes offered by NWPR for adults, such as dance classes? There are lots for children and for seniors, but there seems to be a paucity of physical recreation for the adult crowd.”

Here’s the response we got from Jason Haight, manager of building operations at New Westminster Parks, Culture & Recreation:

Thank you for your question. Parks, Culture & Recreation does offer a wide range of adult fitness based activities (physical recreation) through drop-in programs for skating, swimming, hockey, karate, soccer, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, group fitness and fitness centres. We also offer a number of registered adult fitness programs for yoga, walking and running. All of these services are outlined in our Winter Active Living Guide.

With respect to dance classes we offer several older adult dance classes, geared to the 40+ or 55+ age groups but we do not currently have adult specific dance classes. History has told us that these classes struggle with registration. Combined with space limitation and not wanting to duplicate services and compete with New Westminster continuing education programs and local private sector dance companies, we only offer adult dance intermittently.

I hope this answers your question.

A lack of demand is a disappointing but expected answer to Kathryn’s question. The private sector dance companies he’s referring to include Dance With Me Studio on Front St., Latin Beat Dance Club lessons at Douglas College, Ammara Dance on Sixth St., Boswell Dance Academy on Blackford St, and The Dance Matrix on Agnes St.

If you’re interested in the NWPR drop-in programs, you may be interested to read Will’s post about taking advantage of the on-site childcare to do some time in the weight room at Canada Games, followed by daddy-son pool fun with our toddler, or Clara Cristofaro’s post on her blog about the laughably hard “Workout Lite” program.

Update: Jason tells me program suggestions can be directed to nwparksrec@newwestcity.ca or by calling 604-527-4567.

Share

Youth Centre Activism

members of the Youth Facility Task Force, City Council, the Honourable James Moore, and Harry Bloy, MLA

members of the Youth Facility Task Force, City Council, the Honourable James Moore, and Harry Bloy, MLA

Where I grew up we followed a middle school model and so public school was divided K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. The summer between grade 8 and 9 in 1988 was a long, hot summer and I spent most of it worrying about the gigantic leap to high school – primarly what I was going to wear that first day of school. Like many small towns, the town where I grew up was the type of place one might describe as “sidewalks rolled up at 6PM” or perhaps “home of the nearly dead and the newly wed”. For those of us in the aching, angst filled years between 13-18, weekends were filled with drinking outdoors on Crown Land, driving aimlessly around town back and forth from A&W to McDonald’s, attending house parties, walking for miles, and being silly bored. For most teenagers, it ended there or perhaps veered into vomiting in a bush or breaking curfew. For others, this drunken boredom turned to vandalism, assault, and, as “they” say, opened up a gateway to a life of crime. That summer was soured and my clothing concerns became so unbelievably insignificant when tragically, one of my future classmates was killed the week before school started while riding her bike along the highway on her way to visit her horse stable.  Her name was Alexandra Clancy. I didn’t know her well, but I knew her enough.

Alexandra Clancy had been an avid supporter of the creation of a youth drop in centre in our small town - a place to hang out, without looming parents, and be in a safe place. After her death, a group of teenagers began to champion the cause and I spent countless hours fundraising for a youth centre. We envisioned pool tables, couches, the ever-so-modern Nintendos, and maybe a concession of some sort. We wanted it to be in the centre of town, and open really late. We organized a highly successful 24 Hour Dance-a-thon, did bottle drives, car washes… you name it. I poured my energy into fundraising for the effort.

Time is its own master, and I never did see the creation of a youth drop in centre while I was at the age to enjoy it. I grew up, moved on, and kept in touch with the goings-on of the teenagers in town via my mom, who had helped with the fundraising. The youth centre did happen, albeit in a limited form and many years later, and a quick Google search shows that the Canada Revenue Agency Charities Directorate pulled the charitable status from the group in 2001 for failure to file.

Honourable James Moore, Mayor Wayne Wright, Harry Bloy MLA

Honourable James Moore, Mayor Wayne Wright, Harry Bloy MLA

So when a press release from our city came across my inbox announcing  the groundbreaking of a youth centre at Moody Park, I was excited to see not only the funds already allocated (pricetag – $2.75 million), but stuff actually happening.

The youth centre is a joint venture of the City of New Westminster, the Province of BC, and Western Economic Diversification Canada and is aimed at youths aged 13-18. The space is planned for 4000 square feet, and its location adjacent to the senior-aimed Century House is meant to foster intergenerational relationships, a fact that New Westminster needs to actualize given the changing demographics. The project also includes some revitalization of the park facilities, including the construction of outdoor washrooms. As a patron of the park, I’m happy to hear that. I admit I’m excited about this also because it’s in my neighbourhood, and the roving teenagers I see frequently wandering might actually have something to do.

The expected completion date is the nicely vague “spring 2010″ but the fact that it’s going to happen within a year amazes me and impresses me. I guess back in my day we never thought to approach the coffers of the Provincial goverment and instead concentrated on our various community fundraising efforts.

Isabel Gomez-Garcia, Co-Chair of Fundraising Committee, Lorelei Guthrie, Royal City Merchants Association, and Jan Greenhow, Co-Chair Fundraising Committee

Isabel Gomez-Garcia, Co-Chair of Fundraising Committee, Lorelei Guthrie, Royal City Merchants Association, and Jan Greenhow, Co-Chair Fundraising Committee

That’s not to say that money doesn’t need to be raised to furnish and outfit the new Youth Centre. In addition to the groundbreaking ceremony, the Youth Centre @ Moody Park Fundraising Campaign with a goal of $200,000 was also announced. They’ve even started up a micro site so we can donate and track the progress.

Share

Demolition underway to make room for new Grimston Park playground

Grimston Park playground demolition. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Grimston Park playground demolition. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Demolition is underway at Grimston Park, as the work begins to replace the aging adventure playground with safer, more modern equipment. After a series of public consultations, the final design seems to be pretty much settled.

Here’s what will be included in the $230,000 upgrade:

  • A new tower
  • Slide utilizing the slope
  • New swings, including a platform swing
  • Spinning net
  • Climbing wall
  • Water feature stream that operates using a hand water pump supplied by surplus water from the wading pool.
  • Refurbish & incorporate existing monkey bars, slider track and teeter totter
  • All salvageable lumber and gravel from the existing playground to be reused

The existing wading pool, sports fields, lacrosse box and washrooms will remain untouched.

New Grimston Park playground plan

New Grimston Park playground plan

While the demolition work goes on, the playground at Grimston Park may be closed for up to two weeks, according to the information on NWPR’s website. There will be a gap of a number of weeks between the demolition and the installation of the new playground.

Over the winter, West End kids will have to make do with less. Last time I walked by the park, it looked like the metal monkey bars, swings, bouncers and two slides would remain, but the tearing-down was still underway. The spiral slide, fortress/walkway and log bridge were all gone.

It sounds like there will be a more extended playground closure after the new equipment is delivered. Expect about eight weeks of limited to no use of the playground while it all gets installed.

The new playground is expected to open in Spring 2010. After seeing the final designs on NWPR’s website, I am feeling more excited about the park to come. It looks like it tries to balance a more traditional ‘adventure play’ style with exploratory and imaginative landscaping. For example, the refurbished monkeybars appear to be placed so they cross a new water feature, so the kids could be climbing over or swinging above a little stream (or dry gully if no one is pumping water). The tires are also going to be reused to add a bit of playful architecture to the retaining wall, though they won’t be quite the same as we’ve been used to.

New Grimston playground design (Image: NWPR)

New Grimston playground design (Image: NWPR)

Share

City of New West secures $22 million in infrastructure funding for key projects

From time to time, the City of New Westminster sends us a press release that we think are worth sharing – yet we don’t always have the time to follow up with a post. We’d link to them … if only we could find a copy online! As a new feature on Tenth to the Fraser, when we get a media release from the city that we think you’d like to know about, we’ll share it here so you can be among the first to know. If you see a press release come through that you’d like to write a follow-up guest post about, please drop us a line. You are, of course, always welcome to share your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook or via Twitter as well! - Briana.

New Westminster, BC – The City of New Westminster has secured nearly $22 million in funding under the Build Canada Fund, administered by the federal government and Province of British Columbia. Projects earmarked for funding include the Westminster Pier Park ($8.3 million from each level of government) and streets and sidewalk revitalization ($2.66 million from each level of government).

“This is fantastic news for New Westminster and I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Mayor Wayne Wright. “Council and staff worked very hard to advance these projects and we’re pleased with the enthusiastic response we received throughout the process from officials from both the provincial and federal governments.”

“Our new Westminster Pier Park will become an integral part of the “Experience the Fraser” project that will see a world class trail and park system connect communities along the mighty Fraser River,” the Mayor added.

Both projects were advanced as part of the Build Canada Fund, established to help British Columbia communities meet their pressing infrastructure needs, stimulate the economy, create jobs and support continued economic growth.

Next steps include completing the technical and design work relating to each project and, in the case of Westminster Pier Park, completing an environmental remediation plan once a final design has been achieved. In the coming weeks, a public consultation will commence to solicit input from city residents on what they would like to see in the Royal City’s new waterfront park. Construction will commence as soon as possible for both projects with completion scheduled for 2011.

“I sincerely appreciate the leadership and vision shown by both the provincial and federal governments on advancing this grant funding to communities throughout British Columbia,” said Wright. “I am especially pleased that we can now move forward in achieving a lasting legacy on New Westminster’s waterfront that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

More information:

Share