The City of New Westminster is commemorating the 10th anniversary of Westminster Pier Park with an evening of celebration and film.

Community members are invited to stop by the waterfront park on Friday, June 17, when a variety of activities, music, quizzes and more will be offered from 5-9:30 p.m. and Spider-Man: No Way Home hits the big screen on the festival lawn from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Details are available at www.newwestcity.ca/pierpark10.

In March 2009, the City of New Westminster purchased the 3.2-hectare (nine-acre) Westminster Pier waterfront site at 224 Front Street for $8 million. The $25.9 million park officially opened on June 16, 2012.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years,” said Mayor Jonathan Côté. “I think the park really ended up serving the important purpose that we hoped for when it was originally built. First and foremost, it really became an urban park that residents across the city can happily use.It has become a hub for a number of community events.

Côté said Westminster Pier Park also served the inner city area in an important way.

“High-density neighborhoods don’t have the luxury of having backyards and, truly, Pier Park has become the backyard of downtown New Westminster,” he said. “I think in that regard the park has really succeeded in meeting some of the goals and desires for public green space and open space, not only from a city perspective, but also from a community perspective. downtown.”

Westminster Pier Park features a 325 meter waterfront promenade, festival lawn, concession, elevated viewpoints, basketball court, public art, children’s play area, trees, gardens and places where people can picnic or enjoy the scenery.

Côté said the city took advantage of an economic downturn to purchase the waterfront property and was fortunate to receive a large federal-provincial grant to help develop the park.

“When we started the planning process, I think we all felt we were going to build something special, but I think it exceeded even our expectations,” he said.

Early in the design process, the city council made the decision to completely build the western part of the park, including new infrastructure under the bridge and a new park above.

The eastern part of the site, known as Timber Wharf, later became home to beach volleyball courts, an urban beach, and the WOW Westminster public art installation. It remained on its original wooden stilts and was intended for future redevelopment.

On September 13, 2020, the Timber Wharf caught fire and burned for over 10 days, destroying everything in this part of the park. After an extensive cleanup effort, the park reopened to the public in April 2021.

“Pier Park as it is now is an incredible amenity for the community, but I’m even more excited about what it can be in the future,” Cote said. “There is no doubt that the fire was devastating to the community, but the city is currently working on the insurance claims process, and I anticipate that over the next few years it will actually be involved in a conversation really exciting with the community about rebuilding the part of the park that was lost and really creating a major new extension of the park for that purpose.

Côté said the part of the park that burned will be replaced with modern infrastructure that will give the city more options than what was allowed on the old wood piles.

Changes will also come to the west side of the park – next to the Pier West project which is currently under construction.

“A significant portion of this site is actually being returned to the city to expand Pier Park on the other side of the park,” Cote said. “I think in the next five years we’re going to see Pier Park expand in both directions, and really be able to serve and be more of a park amenity in the community.”

A few facts

Past uses: Past uses of the Westminster Pier Park site include coal storage warehouses, industrial equipment operations, industrial machine shops, marine works, foundries or scrap metal smelting, coal-fired power generation and marine and automotive fueling.

Where is the marina? A marina where people could moor their boats for a few hours was among early talk about the park, but it was derailed by concerns about safety, river speeds and the likelihood of inexperienced boaters encountering difficulties with the strong current. A marine engineer said access to water would be dangerous at this site for many people, as there are “very high currents for a significant portion of the time at this site”.

Lyton Square: The wooden structure that houses the concession and toilets was created to be representative of Lytton Square, which housed New Westminster’s first official public market and was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1898.

Reward : Even before the park opened on June 16, 2012, it had won three awards: a 2012 environmental award from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators, which recognized the city’s innovation and administrative excellence in transforming a brownfield site into usable virgin land; a Sustainable Communities Award in the brownfields category from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and a National Brownie Award from the Canadian Urban Institute for Sustainable Remediation Technologies. Other awards would follow.

Weight restrictions: Volleyball courts and a beach area were deemed suitable uses on the Timber Wharf section of the park, but some uses were not recommended – such as car shows and carnival rides – due to restrictions of weight on the section of the park that still stood on its original wooden stakes. (This section was destroyed by fire.)

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
Email [email protected]