Demolition underway to make room for new Grimston Park playground

Grimston Park playground demolition. Photo: Briana Tomkinson
Grimston Park playground demolition. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Demolition is underway at Grimston Park, as the work begins to replace the aging adventure playground with safer, more modern equipment. After a series of public consultations, the final design seems to be pretty much settled.

Here’s what will be included in the $230,000 upgrade:

  • A new tower
  • Slide utilizing the slope
  • New swings, including a platform swing
  • Spinning net
  • Climbing wall
  • Water feature stream that operates using a hand water pump supplied by surplus water from the wading pool.
  • Refurbish & incorporate existing monkey bars, slider track and teeter totter
  • All salvageable lumber and gravel from the existing playground to be reused

The existing wading pool, sports fields, lacrosse box and washrooms will remain untouched.

New Grimston Park playground plan
New Grimston Park playground plan

While the demolition work goes on, the playground at Grimston Park may be closed for up to two weeks, according to the information on NWPR’s website. There will be a gap of a number of weeks between the demolition and the installation of the new playground.

Over the winter, West End kids will have to make do with less. Last time I walked by the park, it looked like the metal monkey bars, swings, bouncers and two slides would remain, but the tearing-down was still underway. The spiral slide, fortress/walkway and log bridge were all gone.

It sounds like there will be a more extended playground closure after the new equipment is delivered. Expect about eight weeks of limited to no use of the playground while it all gets installed.

The new playground is expected to open in Spring 2010. After seeing the final designs on NWPR’s website, I am feeling more excited about the park to come. It looks like it tries to balance a more traditional ‘adventure play’ style with exploratory and imaginative landscaping. For example, the refurbished monkeybars appear to be placed so they cross a new water feature, so the kids could be climbing over or swinging above a little stream (or dry gully if no one is pumping water). The tires are also going to be reused to add a bit of playful architecture to the retaining wall, though they won’t be quite the same as we’ve been used to.

New Grimston playground design (Image: NWPR)
New Grimston playground design (Image: NWPR)

White Christmas was lovely … but enough already!

When the first fluffy flakes fell before Christmas, New Westminster was postcard-pretty and everywhere I went I could hear people humming to themselves “… where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow … ”

Once Snowmageddon hit in full force, it wasn’t so cute anymore.

A local blogger, Daniel from CityCaucus.com, was one of many of us who felt frustrated by the two-foot snowdrifts that remained on side streets in the days following Snowmageddon 2008:

Admittedly, even by Canadian standards we did receive a lot of snow. However, does that excuse the fact that not a single street in my whole neighbourhood was plowed five days after the snow began to fall?

I’m beginning to think that the City of New Westminster (my hometown) doesn’t even own a plow. What else would explain how the act of a simple snowfall transformed our quaint streets into something reminiscent of an end-of-the-world Hollywood film?

For heavens sake, days after the storm, there were still cars abandoned everywhere. And I mean literally everywhere. Sidewalks were impassable while back alleys were complete no-go-zones unless you owned a Hummer or a snowmobile.

 

I did try to venture out of my back lane once, only to get stuck there for three hours before my neighbour got home and used his truck to set my car free. When I finally did make it out of the back lane, I realized I had damaged the undercarriage of my car due to all the snow left on the streets. Did I mention New Westminster doesn’t own a snowplow?

The streets were in such poor condition that I was even forced park my car about 5 blocks away in our neighbhourhood shopping district where one main drag was at least somewhat passable.

According to the Christmas Eve edition of the Record, New Westminster had already depleted its snow removal budget before the holiday:

In January 2008, the city spent one-quarter of its snow removal budget. By last week [Dec. 19 -ed.], the budget had been depleted.

 

“It was a little hectic Saturday night and Sunday. We just keep plowing,” said Sheldon Rigby, acting manager of engineering operations. “We spread a bit of salt. We hope the weather changes.”

Rigby estimated the weekend’s snowfall cost the city about $55,000, which includes staff time, supplies and equipment. On Sunday, crews were clearing main routes and making progress – only to have to plow again after being hit by another dump of snow.

Once the crews have cleared commuter and emergency routes, they move onto side streets. Six vehicles have been on the roads around the clock.

“We will get into areas and side streets as time permits,” Rigby assured residents.

As I commented on Daniel’s post, I found the reaction to the first snowfall timely and appropriate, but when the real dump came our streets were also unplowed for days. We were nearly without water over Christmas (with 15 dinner guests expected!) due to a burst pipe in the basement suite – and a plumber who couldn’t get his truck down our snowy road! Later in the holiday, one of our co-authors (Jocelyn) slipped on the unshoveled street in front of the Starbucks on Columbia street and found herself flat on her back with her wheels in the air!

Despite these misadventures, we actually felt lucky that the snowfall happened over Christmas. We had nowhere pressing to go once Christmas shopping was complete, and so we remained happily housebound save for a few jaunts over to Grimston Park to take the toddler sledding. 

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Sledding Set Slide to Southern Slope

I really can not believe Miss 604 beat me to it!

New Westminster is a haven for snow sledding for the youthful and the young at heart. As any one who has walked uptown from the New Westminster Skytrain station can attest, we have got some hills in this fair city! While there are a good number of sledding sites around the Royal City and a notable one at the North East corner of Queen’s Park, perhaps the snowy hill most slid upon is the one on the South side of Grimston Park, in New Westminster’s West End.

Miss 604 agrees noting briefly that it is “rather tube-friendly”, an important technical detail for the sledding enthusiast. With the long, excitingly steep decline, gradual leveling bottom and stunning Fraser River / Delta Shore views, this park really offers the best slope available for safe sledding. While the diminutive denizens of New Westminster used to freely slide down 6th street and 8th street (a practice now reserved for BC Transit vehicles) the slopes of Grimston Park offer a safer thrill and an alternate “bunny hill” in the park by 7th ave for the young sledding fan that, let’s admit, is still mastering walking.

I would love to post a sledding photo of the Queen’s Park hill or another (perhaps by Richard McBride or Hume Park?) Send us one and we will post it up.

No school in Grimston, school board decides

Grimston Park will be protected space, and will not be considered as a future school site according to last night’s school board vote. This is great for the West End, who would have lost its only large park, but leaves New West in a bit of a pickle. New schools must be built, but where? To further complicate matters, our school district is facing a $2 million budget shortfall. We have neither time, nor money, nor resources. So what to do?

Some creative thinking is called for! Some of the ideas I’ve heard kicked around include:

  • Sending some New West kids to Burnaby schools (working with that city’s school authorities, of course … though attending by stealth would be funnier … I’m picturing balaclava-clad kids scurrying across Tenth every morning, hiding behind bushes and trees like you’d see in some Merrie Melodies cartoon … maybe that’s just funny to me)
  • Building a new high school in Queensborough, where there’s a little more room to breathe
  • Building multi-storey elementary schools instead of single-storey
  • Building parking lots underground in order to build on smaller lots (not currently funded by the province, but that should change IMHO)

Any other ideas? At this point I’m wondering if I should be planning to homeschool!

New West news roundup

Roundup of some recent news items related to our fair city:

Glenbrook Parents to School Grimston


Royal City Blogger Niki Hope, who excels at all things educational in her website, has recently posted that the Glenbrook Middle School Parent Advisory Council has passed a resolution that, while focusing on the need for a new High School, also calls for the use of Grimston Park as a school site for a middle school.

While the idea of a school on Grimston has been almost universally reviled by the West End community (see Facebook Page Here) and the need for a middle school is still hotly debated, I don’t personally see why the Glenbrook folks (and fine folks they be, I am sure) would really concern themselves with building a middle school way on the other side of town. Perhaps the Westend folks could suggest the removal of Queens Park in favour of a municipal waste to energy incinerator (you see, I am exaggerating for effect).

The content of the letter is below. I invite all concerned to comment here. I will try to have expounders of the Grimston School topic (for and against) send in comments also.

December 1, 2008

Jim Alkins
Project Director
School District #40
1001 Columbia Street
New Westminster, BC
V3M 1C4

Dear Mr. Alkins:

As the Parents’ Advisory Council (PAC) for Glenbrook Middle School, we are writing to you regarding the school construction public consultation process in our City. After significant discussion at our meeting on November 24, 2008, the PAC passed the following motion:
THAT the ÉCOLE GLENBROOK MIDDLE SCHOOL PARENTS’ ADVISORY COUNCIL:
• urges the construction of the high school move forward as soon as possible:
• supports the idea of building a new middle school on the west side; and
• believes that Grimston Park should be considered as an option for that middle school.
CARRIED.

In our view, it is absolutely critical that this initiative – AND PARTICULARLY THE HIGH SCHOOL – move ahead as quickly as possible and NOT be allowed to “go back to the drawing board.” Too much time and money have already been spent and further delays will only continue to compromise the education of all our children.

Yours truly;

Stephen Bruyneel
Chair