The Great New West Fitness Quest – Part 1

Are you making new year’s resolutions that involve fitness? Here’s the perfect series for you. Two women, one epic search for the perfect fitness regime. Will they meet their match? Or will they be left watching infomercials about fitness equipment, dreaming of fitter days?

The Heroines:

Laura Sunnus has lived in New Westminster for 3+ years and is looking for her fitness soul mate. Previously an avid soccer player, Laura is looking for a fitness routine and facility that will keep her entertained while keeping her fit enough to chase after her German Shepard-mix, Goose.

Nadine Nakagawa dreams of one day being a ballerina. But in the meantime, she enjoys an intense workout or a leisurely stroll out of doors. She needs a fitness routine that can keep up with her busy schedule.

The Quest:

Our two heroines journey through the wilds of New Westminster and best a number of obstacles, including kettlebells, gold $ necklaces, and cycle straps. They then rank the obstacles on a number of factors: the exquisiteness of the facility, the muscle-building capacity, getting your sweat on, and becoming agile like a peacock.

The Obstacles: 

The new kid on the block: Viva Tu Vide Fitness

#202-627 Columbia Street
First timer cost – $5
Drop-in cost – $15
Have a variety of monthly and punch-pass options


Laura says—This class would be perfect for a “rest day.” It woke up my muscles without much strain. I will definitely be back for a drop-in class to try their disco light Zumba.

Nadine says—I like this yoga/dance studio and would definitely try other classes here. Prices are pretty good, it’s a beautiful heritage building, and the location is good. The class was relaxing and I enjoyed it.

screenshot-2016-12-16-11-24-01 Laura says—This class had my muscles working harder than the Glowdess class as we leaped and twirled across the studio floor. A great class for people looking for a low intensity workout.

Nadine says—My not-so-secret fantasy is that one day I’m going to be a ballerina. As a result, I enjoy ballet classes of all levels and feel like a graceful swan. This class was a bit too simple for my liking (hem, hem intermediate level over here) but would be great for a total beginner. There was some leaping and there were some sit-ups so a little bit of dance, a little bit of fitness.

screenshot-2016-12-16-11-24-09 Laura says—This class was so fun I didn’t realize how great of a workout I was getting! The instructor pumped the studio with Latin music that encouraged shoulder shimmies and hip thrusts. Add multicolour lights and you have a winning formula for a party-infused workout.

Nadine says—So…this was really fun! I thought the disco lights would bother me (sensitive to lights), but they really did make it more fun. Totally will do this again. We grooved hard.

The women’s boxing gym: 30 Minute Hit

425 E Columbia St
First timer: free!
Monthly and ongoing packages

screenshot-2016-12-16-11-24-18Laura says—This facility eliminates many of the barriers that might keep me from working out: workout anytime within their hours of operation, free parking in front of the gym, and the workout only lasts 30 minutes. I enjoyed the workout and found the trainer encouraging when my muscles felt weak. I wish they had a drop-in option as I’m not willing to invest the $65/month (plus $99 registration fee) for a month-to-month membership. Too bad, I could have been the next Ronda Rousey.

Nadine says—The noise level was a bit jarring in the morning, but I got used to it once I was giving the punching bags a hard time. I really dig that they have spaces for little ones while mom is working out. They are near transit and having free parking out front – a big plus in New West! The trainer was really encouraging and I felt energized after the workout.

The ratatouille option – a little bit of everything: Move Yoga Pilates Dance
237 Nelson’s Crescent
First-time 2 for $30
Monthly & punch passes available 

screenshot-2016-12-16-11-24-24 Laura says—Mariah. Mase. Missy. Need I say more? This class started as a dance-infused workout then turned into choreography that was hilariously attempted by yours truly. The instructor, Sergio, had a great personality that made you feel comfortable with the unfamiliar dance moves. I’ll definitely come back to this class, if only for the music.

50cNadine says—This is definitely outside of my wheelhouse. But since Laura wanted to pull out her 50¢ gold chain, we decided this would be on our list of classes to try. There’s a warm-up then we moved on to choreography. I had more fun than I expected. I definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone sometimes – I might even go back for more grooving to 90s tunes.

screenshot-2016-12-16-11-24-30 Laura says—I was wary about the pilates class as I previously found pilates boring but tough. This class completely changed my mind about the boring part…unfortunately (fortunately?) it is still tough. The instructor, Jenni, engaged with the class as if she was catching up with friends after spending some time apart. Although my muscles were burning, Jenni talked the class through the moves, including calling out the nasty looks that we inadvertently gave her while pulsing our legs an additional 20 times. Great workout in a comfortable environment.

Nadine says—I like pilates and I really like the owner/instructor Jenni. She makes the classes – even the painful ones when your abs are burning – really fun! This pilates class isn’t quite as intense as some I’ve taken in the past, but it’s definitely good for building some core strength. And I always feel taller after pilates.


Stay tuned as Nadine and Laura try on other activities and classes in New West! 

Hey Hey We’re the NWEP!

treesConcerned about climate change? Worried about water issues? Fervent about food security? Captivated by community building?

Then you should meet the NWEP! The New Westminster Environmental Partners (NWEP) is a local, environmentally–focused group of community members. Formed almost a decade ago by citizens concerned about local environmental issues, the NWEP is a registered non-profit society with an elected Board of Directors. The NWEP has previously engaged the community in discussions about the Pattullo Bridge replacement, hosted all-candidates debates with a focus on the environment, and advocated for the City to adopt greener policies.

We’re currently working on a number of different initiatives:

  • Gardening Together – creating more and diverse community garden spaces, including a community garden on the front lawn of City Hall
  • Green Developments – working to propose a green-space policy for new housing developments in the City
  • Climate Smart with VanCity – a three-way partnership to get businesses signed up to reduce greenhouse gases
  • Creating Cool Neighbourhoods NW with Cool North Shore – community coming together to support homeowners to reduce and conserve energy in their homes

In September, the NWEP will once again be leading the Shoreline Cleanup—an event that sees community members collecting garbage and pulling invasive species along South Dyke Road in Queensborough. This year we are partnering with the Queensborough Special Projects Committee. The more the merrier so come on out with your friends and family! The event will be taking place Sunday, September 18 starting at 9:30. The check-in booth will be on South Dyke Road at Carter Street.

We want to hear your ideas about how to make New Westminster a greener, healthier place to live! The NWEP is member-driven which means the membership creates projects and champions initiatives. The NWEP has spawned some notable groups in New West including the Community Garden Society and the New West Film Fest. Membership is only $5 annually.

If you’d like to learn more about the organization, join us on August 23 for a community picnic at Pier Park or at an upcoming meeting. Or check out our AGM on October 6 from 6:30pm – 9pm in the Plaskett Room at the New Westminster Public Library. If you’re interested in joining the board, shoot us an email at the.nwep (at)

Why We Paint

New Westminster is a beautiful city with historic architecture, green parks, and the iconic Fraser River. So why do we need to paint it beautiful?

In a (seemingly) brilliant idea over endless cups of tea, we decided that an unsightly strip of Columbia Street needed some sprucing up and we were the women to do it. But how?

We batted around a few ideas until one made sense: we would get the community to help us! And thus, an idea for a neighbourhood small grant was born. The result: a vibrant mural created by the community. We were infinitely fortunate to be supported by well-known New Westminster artist Gillian Wright who guided the artist visioning of the project and calmed our sometimes-fear that we would end up with a colourful blob on the wall. Gillian was generous with her time and paintbrushes and created a piece of artwork that reflected the city we love.Paint 2

We also worried that we would end up having to paint the entire mural ourselves (our art skills leaving much to be desired), but lo and behold, over 200 members of the community came out to take part in the mural. Some people came down with the intention of contributing while others were simply strolling by and were inspired to pick up a paintbrush.

One family painted their house number onto one of the buildings, leaving their own personalized mark on the mural. A local mom brought her daughter down to take part then ended up herself staying all afternoon to hand draw eye-catching flowers. One woman told us that her brother had just passed away and she was drawing him into the mural with every brush stroke. A senior stood watching for what seemed like hours and declined taking part until he couldn’t help himself any longer and he grabbed one of the small brushes to do some fine details. Some improvisation took place, with the Star Trek Enterprise, a storm trooper, and dinosaurs making an appearance.

Paint 1

The result, both visually and from a community building standpoint, was gratifying to say the least. Which is why we’re doing it again! And this time we are even more ambitious.

Have you checked out the awesome new playground in Moody Park yet? Ever noticed the somber grey building that holds the washrooms and some electrical/citystuff? Ever thought “wouldn’t that look amazing with some sunflowers, fish, butterflies and mandalas painted on it”? Well… us too!

Join us (and a couple hundred members of the community) as we Paint New West Beautiful Round 2 – the Adult Colouring Book Edition. It’s going to be a family-friendly painting extravaganza taking place—you guessed it —at Moody Park on July 23 and 24 from 10:00 until 3:00 both days. All painting supplies will be provided and there is no cost to participate. You don’t need any artistic skill or experience to take part (especially since we’re not exactly known for our own artistic prowess). Artist Mari Posa is contributing the artwork this year and she will be on hand to help translate her vision onto the wall with the help of the community. We’ve been supported once again by a generous grant from the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program. We’ve also received support from the Arts Council of New Westminster’s Arts To Go program.

Check out Uptown Live, then wander over with your family and friends to pick up a paintbrush —and help us to paint New West Beautiful.

Hot Dog!

It’s feeling awfully hot out and your furry family member is panting and looking miserable. Other than going for guilt-ridden drinks on a patio, what is a dog parent to do? While blessed with an engaged community, the majestic Fraser River, and vibrant small business community, New Westminster is sadly lacking in swimming holes. (Mayor and Council – what are you doing to resolve this? I’m hoping to see a staff report soon.)

If your floof is feeling the heat, there’s some accessible swimming spots that are a quick drive from the city. Here’s three of our favourites.  Continue reading “Hot Dog!”

Vegan Eats in Sapperton & Downtown

People who love to eat are always the best people. – Julia Child


Wild Rice

Every person with dietary restrictions appreciates a well-labelled menu. Wild Rice has you covered plus they have what is arguably the best patio in the city. There’s even a scrumptious vegan dessert – a real rarity! From curried steam buns to a tofu kung pao, egg-free ceasar salad to butter not-chicken, you’ll have enough choices that you won’t mind when your eating partner snafoos something off your plate.

El Santo

A great option, especially if it’s not just veggie-sauruses in the crowd. They only have a couple vegan-friendly choices, but they’re well worth trying. Watch the guacamole trio – there’s a hidden bacon ingredient!


20160305_192151 (1)How many sushi restaurants can you crowd into a small area? The area surrounding New West skytrain station may hold the world record. I’m partial to Hi Sushi, just across the street on Carnarvon. Their veggie bento is a great deal and the owners are cute enough to put in your pocket.

River Market

It’s not exactly a vegan-mecca, but there are a couple options such as a the chili at Re-Up without the cream on top (yes, they tried it with meat at one point, but as of this writing, it is meat-free). You can also get a delicious tea latte with soy milk at Great Wall Tea Co, grab a whole loaf of warm, soft, bread from Pamola Bakery – pickup some vegan cheese at Donald’s to have yourself a picnic – and try one or more of the sorbets at Tre Galli. Usually they have a whole case of choices and I betcha you’d never guess they’re dairy-free.

Spud Shack

Did you know Spud Shack’s gravy is vegan? And it’s delicious to boot. They have a good number of choices including a scrumptious chili poutine and you can slather vegan chipotle may on just about anything. Their homemade veggie burger can be made vegan – just ask!


Thai New West

papaya salad (1)There’s really only one place to eat in Sapperton if you’re vegan (also recommended for carnivores, omnivores, celiacs, and every single person who appreciates beautiful food). [Editor’s Note: Greens and Beans deli has some good vegan sandwiches, too]. Thai New West is an underappreciated gem, hidden next to an archery shop on East Columbia. They import and blend their own spice mixes and have a specially modified kitchen to make traditional curries. Let them know that you’re vegan and get everything without the fish sauce. Are you a noodle aficionado? Try their pad thai. Interested in a spicy papaya salad? Treat yourself to a beautifully plated piece of artwork. Do you prefer a red, yellow, or green curry? You’ll probably need to come back to try all three. Their lunch specials are a great deal and their black rice pudding is much more delicious than it looks. If you hadn’t heard of Thai New West… you’re welcome.

Finding a Place


A word loaded with power and imagery: terror and burnt-out buildings, explosions and cowering children.

After the 2015 federal election, the incoming govern- ment pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by year-end, a commitment that was meant to bring hope to those fleeing war-torn areas and to signal a kinder, softer Canada.

Maryam has been a refugee twice. Yet she came to Canada at 19 after being sponsored by her husband who had moved here on a student visa. It was within her own country that she was a refugee.*

“Twice we lost everything. We walked out the door with only our clothes.” Continue reading “Finding a Place”