Proposed school plan would replace Massey Theatre with new performing arts centre

The City of New Westminster & SD 40 just sent out the following news release about a new plan proposed for school construction in New Westminster. The proposal includes replacing Massey Theatre, keeping Mercer Stadium and adding a new sports field to the school that will be built on the former St. Mary’s Hospital site.

What do you think of it? We’ll pass on any questions to the City & School Board and let you know what they say.

New secondary school proposal features new performing arts centre

New Westminster, BC — School District #40 and the City of New Westminster have announced a proposed plan that will see a new regional community performing arts centre to replace the existing Massey Theatre included as part of the New Westminster Secondary School replacement project. The announcement came following a thorough discussion process between the School District and the City.

“It’s been a lengthy process and the issues have been complex,” said Mayor Wayne Wright. “The proposed plan will see all major components of the secondary school site maintained with a new high school and state-of-the-art regional community performing arts centre, in addition to new elementary and middle schools delivered for the citizens of New Westminster. We look forward to sharing this exciting concept with the community and getting feedback in the coming weeks.”

As part of the proposed plan, Mercer Stadium would be maintained at the secondary school site and a new field added at the St. Mary’s site.

The proposed plan has been presented to the BC Ministry of Education for initial review. The Ministry feels that the proposal has merit and has encouraged the School District and the City to continue their collaborative efforts to achieve a solution that balances the education needs of students and the broader needs of the community.

The School District and City are planning public information sessions in early September, followed by focused consultation and public workshops. The consultation will take place as part of public consultation regarding inclusion of community programs in schools under the Neighbourhoods of Learning (NOL) program introduced by the Ministry of Education in 2009. Under this program, the School District can receive additional funding to accommodate programs that serve the needs of students and the broader community in new schools.

After these consultations have been completed, the Board of Education and City Council will each consider the findings of the public consultation process and determine whether the proposed plan should move forward.

“We’ve been working hard with the community and the City for a long time, it’s great to see it pay off with this agreement,” said Board Chair James Janzen.”We have 3,000 kids waiting for new schools, and a community that’s been living with uncertainty.”

Once a plan for New Westminster Secondary School is finalized, the school district will be able to proceed with the construction of a new elementary on the St. Mary’s site, a new middle school on the John Robson site and a new high school on the existing NWSS site.

More information on the proposed plan and community consultation process will be forthcoming. Updates will be posted on the School District’s website at www.sd40.bc.ca and on the City website at www.newwestcity.ca.

Anti-HST petition comes to New Westminster April 17

The following is a  media release from the New Westminster HST Initiative Campaign. For more information on the B.C. campaign, visit fighthst.com or connect with local organizers on Facebook.

Residents of New Westminster who want to learn more about the Initiative to End the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), get involved, or just sign the petition will get their chance on Saturday April 17, between 10:00 AM and 12:00 noon at Canadian Autoworkers Union Hall at 326 12th Street.

The official initiative petition will be available for New Westminster residents to sign anytime between 10:00 AM and noon. Beginning at 10 o’clock, local organizers for the campaign will provide an overview of the initiative and train people who want to volunteer to collect signatures for the campaign. After the training, canvassers will head out into their neighbourhoods to collect signatures door-to-door.

“We know people in New Westminster are anxious to have their say on the HST,” said local campaign spokesperson Tania Jarzebiak. “But there are some very strict rules governing the initiative and we wanted to take the time to make sure we do it right.”

“We need to collect at least 4300 signatures from folks who are on the voters list in New Westminster by July 5 – and we hope to make a good start on Saturday,” she added.

The HST will shift $1.9 billion in taxes from corporations onto consumers, will hurt working families and small businesses, and lead to thousands of layoffs in key industries. Opposition to the HST continues to grow, and petition launches in communities across BC have been a huge success. In Fort St John, for example, canvassers collected 1,800 signatures in one day.

“The HST has struck a nerve with people in New Westminster. We’re outraged at the BC Liberal government’s deception and lack of consultation,” Jarzebiak noted, “Judging from the amount of calls and e-mails received so far, we’re going to have an active and successful petition campaign in New Westminster.”

Area businesses have expressed interest in hosting the petition, and organizers are developing a schedule for volunteer canvassers to be in place to collect signatures. More information about locations and times will be made available once the schedule is confirmed.

Lafflines Comedy Club takes ownership of Burr Theatre

New Westminster, BC – The City of New Westminster has selected Lafflines Comedy Club owner Barry Buckland as the purchaser of the historic Burr Theatre. At a purchase price of $850,000, the successful bid was evaluated based on several economic, cultural and heritage criteria. Lafflines Comedy Club will relocate to the theatre under the new name Lafflines at the Burr Theatre by summer 2010.

Burr Theatre. Photo: Photocat62 via Flickr
Burr Theatre. Photo: Photocat62 via Flickr

“We received six proposals to purchase the Burr Theatre and based on our selection criteria, Barry Buckland’s Lafflines at the Burr Theatre emerged as the successful proponent,” said Lisa Spitale, Director of Development Services. “We’re looking forward to working with Mr. Buckland and his project team to bring this historic theatre to life once again.”

In summer 2009, the City issued an RFP for the sale of the Burr Theatre. Proponents were given until September 18, 2009 to respond. All six proposals were evaluated by an interdepartmental staff team based on several factors, including:

  • Revitalization of the building and surrounding area
  • Improvement of the appearance of the building
  • Improvement of integration of the surrounding land uses
  • Creation of a landmark site that is noted for its sympathetic restoration of the exterior of the building
  • Protection of the murals (both covered and exposed) in the interior of the building from further alteration or degradation
  • Satisfactory monetary return for the City
  • Continued access to the Burr Theatre by community groups

Mr. Buckland has owned Lafflines Comedy Club since 1999 and is a member of the Raymond Burr Arts Society Board and of the Downtown Business Improvement Society. He has retained three professionals to assist him as his project team including: local architect Eric Pattison, specializing in heritage restoration projects throughout New Westminster; Jessica Schneider, Executive Director of Massey Theatre, who will assist with the development of operating and management policies, and marketing initiatives for the rental of the facility; and, Michael Hwang, lawyer and owner of Hwang & Company who has been instrumental in the revitalization efforts of the historic Westminster Trust Building.

New website for City of New Westminster

New Westminster, BC – The City of New Westminster launched its new website today, adding new features, fresh content and an updated look to the City’s online presence.

“Increasingly, residents, businesses and visitors to the Royal City are accessing information about us through the world wide web,” said Mayor Wayne Wright. “A content-rich, user-friendly site that captures the essence of New Westminster is a critical tool for addressing their information needs.”

The development of the new website was a key recommendation of the City’s Strategic Communications Plan completed in 2007. In the fall of 2008, under the guidance of the Communications Department, representatives from each city department formed a website committee to establish the parameters for the project. In March 2009 Ion Branding & Design, an award-winning website design firm based in Vancouver, was selected to build the site at a budgeted cost of $60,000.

“The new site is truly a collaborative effort and features a fresh look and user-friendly navigation,” said Blair Fryer, Communications Manager. “A lot of sweat and a few tears have gone into creating the City’s new website and we’re very happy with the final result.”

In addition to an updated look, the City of New Westminster website is easier to navigate for access to key information and includes new features such as a community events calendar, RSS feeds, e-news bulletins, an interactive city map and a new content management system that allows easier, faster and more flexible uploads to the site.

The City of New Westminster website address remains the same at www.newwestcity.ca.

Automated garbage collection to begin in 2010

New automated garbage collection trucks will be rolling down city streets in spring 2010. The City of New Westminster has ordered three new automated collection vehicles, following council’s approval of a plan to switch to state-of-the-art automated collection throughout the City. The expected delivery date for the new trucks is March 2010. The vehicles will be used to collect both garbage and Clean Green materials.

The new collection process will require residents to switch from traditional garbage “cans” to collection carts, which the City will order and distribute in conjunction with the arrival of the new trucks.

“The feedback we’ve received from residents is that they prefer the small 120 L or mid-sized 180 L carts for their household garbage,” said Jon McDonald, New Westminster’s Manager of Engineering Operations. “Most people preferred the mid-sized cart for Clean Green.”

To simplify ordering and reduce costs, all Clean Green carts and the majority of garbage carts will be the 180 L size. Residents will be able to opt for a smaller (or larger) cart at the beginning of the program.

The switch to automated collection may also offer another exciting opportunity for local residents.

“When Metro Vancouver opens its organics processing facility later this year, residents may be able to include their kitchen waste with their Clean Green,” said McDonald. “The closed collection carts will make this service easier for residents and it’s the preferred method for providing household food waste collection service.”

The City will distribute more detailed information to residents later this fall as the new program takes shape. Regular updates will also be provided through the city website at www.newwestcity.ca.

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: