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?

11 Replies to “Westminster Pier Park Open House”

  1. I think they should get very educated about the moorage. You can not just build it and expect "that to be that". I have personal experience with this. The dock need to be dredged periodically, each time the work needs to be done, an environmental assessment needs to be completed. In addition, it needs to be adequately policed. If it is open to the public, transient boats will squat there unless regs. are enforced.

    That said, there is a BC wide shortage of mooring and NO mooring at all for non-resident boats on the main shore of New Westminster since the docks at the Inn at New West Quay disintegrated. It also needs to be noted that in many boats, it takes all day to get from Steveston to New Westminster. Counselor Bill Harper mentioned the dock would accommodate boaters on day trips from Seattle. While I agree with the need for the dock, I do not think it would cater to folks from Seattle just up on a short trip. Aim for cabin cruisers on 2-3 week excursions or folks already in the Fraser River system.

    That is my 2pennies.

  2. I feel the same way. I’m glad to see them do something, anything! with the land. And I’m glad it’s not going to be more condos. We need more park space / public space in the city, and the riverfront land is a great place for it. The only thing I have had to say is that the city needs to ensure it’s well-landscaped. One of the big disappointments with Hyack Square was that it is a barren, treeless place. I hope the new park will have BIG trees, the kind to picnic under on hot summer days. A place to daydream.

  3. Briana, there is an all season tree in Spirit Square. It was decorated for the Santa parade. Hope it is made out of Aluminum so it won’t rust.

    I am in favour of anything which will put NW on the map.
    I agree with Will about docking, and add that when boats used to tie up at the Quay, you would be sitting there with a cold martini in hand and it would end up in your lap everytime a tug approached. Most boaters do not like to tie up in open turbulant water. Have they priced a Breakwater? Or is this what the Barge is designed to do?
    As for kids playing in the sand on the river bank? It’s a dream. You will need life gaurds around any water area. And by the way, any riverfront park I know of is Muck and Granite…. can’t even throw a stick for your dog.

    A real concern to me, as the City continues to squander our tax dollars is… Why are we planning anything until the perimeter route is complete. Will we have access? Will they expropriate a piece of the park? How do we safely approach the park without tripping over rail lines?
    As for Commercial ventures for the Park:

    1. A doggie wash station….

    2. A Medical clinic for those choosing to swim in the Fraser. Could call it “Fin’s Medical Clinic…. Ha

    3. A Wheel chair rental company specializing in power assist and hydraulic brakes for getting to/from the park.

    4. Food venues are out, the River Market will fill that spot.

    5. All I see is the event driven Parks and Rec Unionized hamburger stand making a few bucks.(and competing with free enterprise)

    All joking aside I hope the public gets involved! My past experience is, public input is simply a step to doing what they will anyway. Thus the low turnout.
    Use our public consultation on taxes as an example… a joke! More hiring and higher salaries smack dab in the middle of a recession…. It’s just not Wright.. It shouldn’t be that way.

  4. One thing I did not see in the proposal is an area for fishing. This seems like a natural ‘activity’ to have at ANY recreational area along the Fraser River. I remember going down to the sand flats under the Patullo Bridge on the Surrey side of the river (directly accross from New West’s proposes Pier Park) and casting out into the mighty Fraser. We never caught much but damned if we didn’t have fun trying.

    Bree, most likely the trees will initially be quite small, at least until they mature.

    John, Richmond has quite a few parks along the river, for both swimming dogs and children, that do not have lifeguards. Garry Point Park is just one example.

    I’ll be at the open house.

  5. Having attended the open house work shop last night (1/2 residents 1/2 city employees or so it seemed), I encourage everyone to review the city council minutes from March 15th and the report on the Westminster Pier – Project Update.
    You have a very short time to respond with your wishes, concerns and comments before this gets finalized. We are not going to get everything build in the first round. Mooring is not possible due to the current of the mighty Fraser River. Lots of things were discussed with the exception of cost and the clean up of the toxic elements.
    Some citizens believe the city may have bigger issues with this then first thought.
    It was a good workshop but much more needs to be confirmed and all this before tendering contracts for construction which begins in April. Time lines to finish the project is March 2011 in order to keep the 16 million put on the table by the Province and the Feds. So get those comments into city hall ASAP to Dean Gibson or Lisa Spitale.

  6. A few comments from the open house:

    The conceptual design has changed significantly since January, but the major elements remain. I am impressed with the combination of green space and built infrastructure, balance between active and passive uses. I am very excited about the idea of having a grass-covered concert space for ~2000 people on the water.

    I see ingress and egress issues, as the only access is via the Lorco property. The uncertainties around the North Fraser Perimeter Road were definitely the elephant in the room. But that said, they want to get as much of this in the ground before the Federal funds run out in March 2011.

    On Ross’s comments: they definitely want the pier structures to be fishing-friendly. Apparently there are no fish there (they are all over on the other side of the river where currents are slower apparently), but as you mentioned, catching isn’t necessarily an important part of fishing. As for dogs, kids, etc. playing in the water: that is completely off the table. The current is quite high there (4 knots+) and if anyone got in the water, they would be dragged under the Lorco pier, and if they got out of there, they may not have a chance to get out of the actual water until Queensborough. That said, they have developed a floating dock with a place to safely “touch the water”. Not a swimming area, though.

    On John’s comments: The same current that precludes swimming makes putting any kind of public docking facility in the place impossible. The current is 4x that considered the safe maximum for public piers, the wakes of the working boats on the river can be hazardous (4 feet or more), and there simply isn’t room or budget to build any kind of breakwater. Sorry, Will. There will be no moorage of any kind.

    I also share your concerns about spending too much on this before the NFPR plans are known. But if we sit and wait for the NFPR (or Lorco, for that matter) to make up their minds before we utilize our waterfront, it could continue in disrepair for perpetuity. That is the recipe for urban decay. I think the City is being bold in making these commitments now, and is almost throwing a shot over the bow of Translink and Province, telling them if they don’t define how the space is used, we are going to. If this park is successful (and I have every reason to think it will be) then the Province will be on very thin ice trying to remove it to put a freeway in. That said, the City does seem to be planning for the NFPR as best they can, creating berms to separate the park from the Provincial right-of-way, planning for future access over top of any highway expansion, etc.

  7. Pat,

    Great comment! I think you miss understood me. I think moorage there would be a terrible idea. I have handled boats on the river and current can be a helper when docking, but also cause a hazard (current goes both ways on the Fraser, depending on tide). A dock would be expensive, hazardous, ill used and ugly. Not impossible though. I just wish there was one somewhere.

    If the Samson V is forced to go… that Dock space by the MN Native would be viable again as the silt wouldn't drop.

  8. What a crowning achievement. Turning a brownfield into a play-field.

    I guess the tax the governments made off all the dirty industries that caused the damage on that site are allocated to fix it.

    Certainly, as a tax payer, I don't want to be footing the bill to clean up a mess while some company execs profits from it.

    Wait a minute, this theme is starting to sound familiar….


    P.S. – Will, if it takes you all day to get from steveston to n.w. your buck'n the tide in your skiff.

  9. Is there any plan for access from the Skybridge end? pretty much useless if you have to turn around and walk back every time.

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