Stay cool, New West: Summer fun at spray parks, splash pools, and beaches

Summer heat came early with a May that was one of the driest on record, and it’s only getting hotter. Thankfully, New West has a pretty great list of spray parks, splash pools and even a couple beaches where you can suntan on hot sand.

Spray Parks: Open from 10am-7pm, Victoria Day to Labour Day

  • Queens Park – A classic spot for summer fun, the thick trees of the park make it easy to find a shady spot to cool down. The spray park features a water table feature for toddlers as well as a varied collection of sprinklers for older kids and adventurous tots to run through. The spray park is next to the Queens Park Petting Zoo (open 10am-5:30pm), a concession, and the Rainbow Playland playgrounds.
  • Moody Park – Located Uptown at 6th Ave. & 8th St. next to the playground, this older spray park is earmarked for an facelift soon. Water lines were recently upgraded in preparation for the new spray park. I’m not sure when the new spray park is due to be installed, but this could be the last summer to enjoy the tree-stump sprinklers in the old park.
  • Ryall Park – Next to a toddler playground, an all-wheel park, and the Queensborough Community Centre. The community centre includes a small branch of the New Westminster Library – a good spot to step out of the sun for a while to check out a book or do a puzzle with your kids.
  • Sapperton Park – Blessedly close to Starbucks and a short walk from Sapperton SkyTrain, this smaller spray park at Sherbrooke & East Columbia is a great spot to meet up with friends. I often find at larger parks like Queen’s, the kids run off to play in different areas. It’s hard to keep up a conversation while you’re chasing them to opposite ends of the playground! At Sapperton Park, the kids are always within eyesight, which makes it easy for the parents to enjoy their “playdate” too.
  • Old Schoolhouse Park – Not a true spray park, but this Queensborough park includes a playable water feature for kids where they can get as wet as they want to. At Ewen Ave & Derwent Way.
  • Hume Park – Resurfaced in May/June 2015, this is now open for business! Really nice re-do of the splash park, that uses recycled tires for the surface – non-slip and a bit squishy on the feet.  Located off East Columbia Street in Sapperton.

Outdoor pools – Open from the last weekend in June until Labour Day

  • Moody Park – The newest pool in New West is conveniently located in leafy Moody Park. Changerooms are clean and spacious, and while the pool isn’t the biggest around, it is a beautiful spot to cool off in summer. Open for public swim from 1:15 to 7:55pm in July & August. Adult swim from 8-9:25pm on Tuesdays & Thursdays; youth swim from 8-9:25pm on Wednesdays.
  • Hume Park – Pair your swim with a walk through the trails in Lower Hume or take the kids to the new adventure playground next to the pool. Hume Park is great fun. Open on fair weather days from 1:15pm-8pm.
  • Grimston Park wading pool – Open from 12-4pm in July & August, this is one of the few remaining free, public wading pools in Metro Vancouver. Staffed by a lifeguard, who often brings water toys and may offer face-painting if you are lucky. Grimston is a lesser-known park in New West, located in the West End a short walk from 22nd St. SkyTrain.

Free admission to Moody Park Pool & Hume Pool on weekends, and just $2 for adults / $1.50 for kids and seniors during the week.

Beaches

  • The not-so-“secret” beach in Queensborough is a lovely and quiet little patch of sand. You probably don’t want to go swimming in the fast-moving Fraser River, but you can cool your feet at the river’s edge and benefit from the cool air off the water and surrounding shade trees. Located off the Port Royal Riverfront Walk, on the Poplar Island side.
  • The Pier Park Urban Beach is accessed via the Quay boardwalk and a new pedestrian overpass at 4th Street (via the Parkade). While you can’t go swimming here, it’s breezy and beautiful, with trees and sun umbrellas for shade and even hammocks to relax in. The City is adding new water ‘misters’ to provide some relief from the heat (should be complete in the second week of July).

Further afield: 

When a beach where you can swim is the only thing that will do, you have to settle in for a bit of a drive or public transit adventure. Here are a couple of favourite ‘field trips’ from New West:

  • Our family’s favourite swimming beach near New West is Centennial Beach at Boundary Bay Park in Delta, which is about a half-hour drive away. It’s a long, sandy beach with shallow water that heats up to the temperature of bathwater. When the tide is in, you can go out wading until you are just a tiny speck on the horizon and still not be more than waist-deep. When the tide is out, the area is full of tidepools to explore. There is a playground and concession near the main parking lot, but if you are willing to walk a ways you can usually find a quiet spot in the seagrass where you can spread a picnic blanket. Just remember to bring lots of sunscreen and your own shade: it’s mostly scrub bush and grass out there rather than trees.
  • Sasamat Lake’s White Pine Beach is 40 minutes away and features a beautiful beach surrounded by mountains and tall evergreens.
  • English Bay Beach in downtown Vancouver is 40 minutes by car or an hour by public transit. The beach is gorgeous, and you can pair your visit with a walk around the Stanley Park Seawall or a bit of Robson Street shopping in the West End.

What about you? Where do you go to cool off on a hot summer day?

Best playgrounds in New West: what are your favourites?

Favourite playgrounds in New Westminster

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!

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.

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

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.

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.