Pier Park water misters have arrived!

The three promised water “misters” have arrived at Westminster Pier Park, right on schedule.

The misters are positioned right next to the hammocks and the beach volleyball courts, and according to contributor Eryne Donahue (who took the photos featured below), they do help to make a hot afternoon tolerable.

The Pier Park is the newest and most strikingly attractive park in New West. But the heat wave this summer has highlighted a problem: most of the park is in full sun, all day long. It is just too hot to spend much time in when the temperature climbs. The misters will provide some needed relief.

Water misters near hammocks at Pier Park
Cooling misters have been installed next to the hammocks and beach volleyball court at Westminster Pier Park. Photo: Eryne Donahue.

Continue reading “Pier Park water misters have arrived!”

Pier Park to get a little cooler

“Misters” are coming to Westminster Pier Park in July to help park-goers beat the heat. Photo: Eryne Donahue.

The City of New Westminster is getting ready to install three cooling misters at Westminster Pier Park on the Timber Wharf near the volleyball court and hammocks.

While Pier Park is a gem on the waterfront, in the summer, the heat is intense, with little shade to be found.

The new misters will offer a gentle (and very welcome) relief from the heat and add yet another fun feature to draw families to the park (as if two playgrounds, a perfect cycle path, sandy beach, hammocks and loungers weren’t enough). Continue reading “Pier Park to get a little cooler”

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!

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.

Megan’s Top 10 Reasons Why New West is Awesome

This is a guest post by Megan Sargent, a recent tranplant from Ontario via Prairies for a nine-year stop on her way to the West Coast.

The renovated River Market will be a treat when it opens. Photo: Briana Tomkinson.
The renovated River Market will be a treat when it opens. Photo: Briana Tomkinson.

1. The Quay/Boardwalk

The Quay is being redone! No longer ugly and mostly empty, it’s got a shiny new renovation and is set to open very soon. The Boardwalk along the Fraser River is great for running, walking, holding hands, and watching Sea Lions and Harbour Seals in the water (it’s true! I saw three of them playing around by the Quay two weeks ago), and watching the tugboats.

2. The mall at New West Station.

In the process of being done right now. This mall will have a movie theatre attached to the SkyTrain station! How awesome is that?

3. New West is close to everything.

The SkyTrain. Just 27min to downtown. Bonuses: 85% of the time you get a seat and 100% of the time you don’t have to transfer at Commercial.
New West has fast connections to the 99, highway 1, etc. Making it fast and easy to get to Delta, Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Vancouver, Richmond -basically anywhere in the Lower Mainland.

4. Rent is cheap.

Rent is a whole lot cheaper than Downtown Vancouver. I recently saw an ad for a two-level loft condo with water and mountain views on the Quay for $1200 a month.

5. New West has a lot of bars and restaurants.

Seriously. I think the per capita of bars to people in New West is astronomical. And not scuzzy bars either (although we have those too! Hey, everyone needs those sometimes).

There are loads of sushi places in New West, plus there are cool restaurants like The Heritage Grill, which has live music every night. And the pubs: River’s Reach, The Terminal, etc. And we have a martini bar. Who needs Yaletown and Yaletown priced drinks?

Plus we have “Fever” the nightclub, if you’re into that sort of thing.

6. New West has lots of great recreation spots.

  • There is a Bikram’s yoga studio right across the street from Columbia Skytrain station.
  • Queen’s Park!
  • There are cheap lacrosse games to go to.
  • There is $1 skating on Wed nights at Moody Park Arena
  • The Quay boardwalk
  • The New Westminster Secondary School District has lots of great adult programs. They have tons of stuff like photography classes, Yoga, Women’s Floor Hockey, cooking classes, and Tai Chi (which I’m taking right now) and they’re cheap!
  • There are putting in a new waterfront park along Front Street, which will have beach volley ball courts (so I’m told), if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • There are at least 3 off-leash dog parks that I know about (and I don’t have a dog) .

7. New West if full of awesome Heritage Houses

A lot of times I just go for walks to see all the amazing houses and architecture around.

8. New West is FULL of great breakfast/brunch places.

My personal favourite right now is Couzies. But there are lots of great brunch options and coffee shops.

9. New West has great shopping.

What? I know what you’re thinking, but it’s true! There is Army & Navy, plus lots of funky independent stores and if those don’t float your boat there are the outlet stores in Queensborough.

10. New West has a strong sense of community.

We are fun people to hang out with. Enough said.