Biggest one-day food truck fest in Canada comes to New West Aug 22

The Columbia StrEAT Festival is the biggest one-day food truck festival in Canada

Canada’s largest one-day food truck fest is back in downtown New West this summer.

On Saturday, August 22 from 4-10pm, The Third Annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest will bring over 70 food trucks, beer gardens and free entertainment to downtown New West.

Tacofino, Johnny’s Pops and DougieDog Hot Dogs will be back by popular demand. New vendors this year will include Culver City Salads, Cheeses Crust, Taters – The Baked Potato Co., and many more.

Many Downtown New West restaurants will also set up food tents to sell street food. RainCity Juicery and Old Crow Coffee are among the New West restaurants who will join the party on Columbia Street for the event. Boston Pizza is hosting a pizza-eating contest, featuring star contestant Mayor Jonathan Cote!

I spoke to Downtown BIA Program and Events Coordinator Maddison McKitrick to ask a few questions about the event:

Q: What has been the impact of this festival on downtown New West businesses?

A: We actually polled our membership and Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Fest ranked very high with our members regarding BIA initiatives. The impact has been amazing, bringing crowds of over 50k in 2014 provided great exposure for our Downtown businesses. We are expecting crowds of 75k this year!

Q: How many beer gardens will you have? Who is running them?

A: Four! The Heritage Grill, The Columbia Theatre, The Met Bar & Grill and Anvil Centre will be set up inside but their large window/doors will be open to the street. These beer gardens are technically liquor license extensions, basically a large patio for the establishments. The Met Bar & Grill will have Growers serving up samples in their beer garden.

Q: What entertainment are you offering? 

A: Huge variety! The Arts Council of New West will be hosting two festival tents of amazing acts, including Roland and Emma Nipp, Old Mare, The Alvair Trio, Bryan Michael and more. The Royal City Swing will be set up, dancing away and even offering intro lessons to attendees! Emily Harder, a local singer/songwriter, Six String and a Saxophone, a local New West jazz duo. We are expecting more to join the event as well. A full list of entertainment can be found on our website’s event listing.

Q: Is this a kid-friendly event? 

A: As our event runs from 4pm-10pm, it’s tailored to an older demographic but we definitely encourage families to attend and had tons attend last year. There are lots of yummy treats that are very kid friendly! Plus the Brick & Mortar Living girls will be presenting the Chalk Spot, a sidewalk chalk area for artsy kids on McKenzie Street at Columbia from 4pm-7pm.

A full list of participating food trucks is available on the New West Downtown BIA website. There is also a Facebook event you can join if you want to be updated with the latest info.

The Food Truck Fest is organized by the Downtown New West BIA, with support from RiverSky by Bosa Properties and Vancity.

Photo: Technomonkey Media, used with permission of the Downtown New West BIA.



Show & Shine brings Japadog to New West

Cult Vancouver eatery Japadog is bringing a food truck to New Westminster for the Key West Ford Show & Shine on Sunday, July 8. The event is 10am - 6pm in Downtown New West on Columbia Street.

When I started with the Downtown New West Business Improvement Association back in December, there were lots of familiar faces, projects, and issues. Of course a lot has changed since I worked for the BIA the first time around, but many things remained the same as well.

One big thing that hasn’t changed is that the BIA produces the largest event in New West – the Key West Ford Show & Shine. 100,000 people and 300 cars come out every year on the second Sunday of July to Columbia Street. Pretty amazing when you think about it, out of our small two person BIA office, supported by fantastic contractors and volunteers, we pull off this huge event annually.

My first reaction to the planning process was that not much had changed: the same faces, the same task lists, the same processes. Time to switch things up a bit. However I was reminded that if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. Fair enough. When you have 12 years of previous successful Show & Shines under your belt then I’ll trust you on that one!

So our strategy was to tweak and upgrade. What we have works, it’s just time for a little update.

To that end, we focused on forming more partnerships with organizations and businesses that would add an element of interactivity to the show. The biggest and most obvious update is partnering with Key West Ford, but we also went about forming a partnership with the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation to offer a 50/50 draw in celebration of their 150 years of service in New West. We brought in the new Bosley’s at Columbia Square Plaza to offer a “Pet Lounge” – Karima, the owner, will set up an actual lounge for your furry friends with cool beds, water, ice pops, and stylin’ giveaways like bandanas.

And we collaborated with the West Coast College of Massage Therapy, using the beautiful courtyard space at 611 Columbia Street to create the West Coast Wellness and Living Oasis – a sanctuary with mini spa services and shopping geared towards the ladies who attend.

But there was one thing I was focused on from the start. I wanted cool food vendors. With the recent additions of Chronic Tacos and Re-Up BBQ to Downtown New West we didn’t have to go very far to get a good start.

But, I wanted something bigger. I thought, what was the most high profile street food vendor in the Lower Mainland? Who has promotional power? What food cart would people travel to get to? Be willing to line up at? Clearly, it had to be Japadog.

Yep, I wanted Japadog. And I really had no idea how challenging that would be, but I was determined. I started the way anyone would, I googled them to try and find a phone number. Nope, no luck. I called a few contacts, was given a phone number that was basically a voicemail. Left messages, emailed them. Again, no luck.

Then I hired a very industrious and equally determined Summer Student Ambassador, Tia Dalupang, who wanted this as much I did. I won’t tell you how she did it, but after much time and effort she brought me a cell phone number. An actual direct line to someone, yay!

Lo and behold, I called Hideki, Catering Manager of Japadog who himself is a car buff. Lucky. All the planets and stars lined up and after some negotiating (and ok, maybe some pleading on my part) I got them. Japadog, for the first time, will come to New West.

So, after all our hard work, I hope that it pays off and that many of you are Japadog fans! Or perhaps you have never had the opportunity to try them out yet, well that opportunity has arrived and I hope you’ll come down to the Key West Ford Show & Shine on Sunday for a taste!

Kendra Johnston is the Executive Director of the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association

Visions of a new downtown

Downtown New West. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd
Downtown New West. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd

Revitalization. It’s almost a dirty word in New West. Time and time again, ‘revitalization’ is promised: on 12th St., in Sapperton, and most frequently and fervently, downtown. For years we have lived in the shadow of construction cranes towering over Columbia St., and this promised revitalization has not yet come. Yet I think this long-overdue hope will soon be realized, as we approach a critical mass of major development projects and an accompanying demographic shift that really will have the power to transform New Westminster’s downtown.

By the end of 2011, New Westminster’s tarnished Golden Mile will shine again with the addition of a new 10-screen cinema, civic centre, waterfront park and a much-improved public market at the Quay. The construction that hampered pedestrian access around New Westminster SkyTrain and the ground-level crossing to the Quay will be complete and the related condo towers will fill with young professionals just hitting their stride in their careers and preparing to start families.

Within the community too there’s a new energy providing the gestalt for change. NEXT New West, a monthly networking mixer for the city’s young professionals, began meeting at the end of 2009 and will continue to grow in size and ambition to knit these young families into the social fabric of our city. The Downtown Business Improvement Association is in the midst of rebranding, hoping to recast downtown New West as a magnet for local commerce – not just bridal shops.

Momentum is building, but there is still a ways to go.

The River Market sits gutted, ready for new life . On the office walls, sketches and plans promise a far edgier, hipper vision of New West. Risk is embedded in this promise of change. So much depends on the final tenant mix, currently TBD following a delicate dance of negotiations that will ultimately depend on the strength of belief in Downtown New West’s revitalization.

The River Market’s fancydancing to get residents to sign a pledge of support for an unnamed local organic grocer is one attempt to boost New West’s belief in itself. New West BIA’s rebranding and community outreach efforts are another.

At the Quayside Community Board AGM some weeks ago, New Westminster Downtown BIA Executive Director Virginia Bremner came to speak to Quayside residents about the hoped-for changes coming to Downtown. After outlining what the BIA is and what it is trying to accomplish, she turned the floor over to the audience with the question, “What would it take for you to shop downtown New Westminster more often?”

The answers to the question were predictable: more services for residents, fewer bridal boutiques (or inversely, more non-bridal shops & services), cleaner streets, safer streets, etc. More interesting to me was the challenge implicit in the question. New West residents wish for a more vibrant downtown. Yet, when we take our business to Burnaby, Coquitlam or Vancouver, we make it harder for the BIA, the River Market, etc. to bring in and retain the kind of retailers we long to see.

In the end, we have to back up our belief with action. When we put our energy into attending community events and supporting local retailers with our dollars, we are pledging real support for the change we want to see.