“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Those famous words by poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson could well be the theme of Jane’s Walks taking place in New Westminster this weekend. West End resident and longtime pedestrian advocate Mary Wilson launched the initiative locally four years ago as a way of encouraging citizens to get out walking in the community.
“I have been advocating for urban walking for quite a long time,” she said. “Jane’s Walks came up, after years of me saying we have Bike to Work Week, we have car shows, but we don’t have anything to celebrate walking. My big thing is, accommodate pedestrians, celebrate walking. Walking is a legitimate thing and a good thing to do around urban areas.”
Jane’s Walks, citizen-led walking tours aimed at community-based city building, are held in cities around the world each May. They’re inspired by the work of Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist.
Wilson is thrilled the city has decided to make walking a priority in its master transportation plan.
“You need to do more than just build sidewalks,” she said. “You have to celebrate walking. You’ve got to have an event.”
Jane’s Walks don’t have to be fancy or educational, said Wilson, as the purpose is to get people out walking with others.
“My concern is people say, ‘I can’t lead a walk, I don’t know enough.’ You don’t have to be an Archie Miller,” she said of the city’s well-known historian. “Archie Miller knows history, he knows that stuff. Me? The first year I did a walk, I said, ‘I’ve got books due back at the library – wanna come for a walk and take my books back?’ How much research does that take?”
The informal walks give people a chance to chat and share ideas and information along the way.
“In Jane’s Walks in other cities, I have seen people say, ‘I don’t go for a walk. How about if I do a Jane’s Walk and ask people to come with me and they can explain what this place is all about?’” Wilson said. “If I go for a walk in New Westminster, I expect that half the people will know more than I do – and they do, and they tell me stuff.”
About a dozen local walks are in the works from May 6 to 8, with most taking place on Saturday, May 7. Details are available at www.janeswalk.org/canada/new-westminster.
Matt Matic, who is helping organize this year’s walks in New Westminter, said the walks are a good forum for community members to get together and share their knowledge and interest in the city. This year’s walks includes some favourites from past years and some new additions as well.
“It’s pretty casual,” Wilson said. “No money, no registering. It’s the informality of it that I like. It’s just a grassroots thing.”
Check out these walks:
* Brow of the Hill walking tour (led by Coun. Jaimie McEvoy) on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m.
* Tour of Queensborough (led by Century House walking group) and coffee on Friday, May 6 at 9 a.m.
* A day in the mayor’s (walking) shoes (led by Mayor Jonathan Cote) on Friday, May 6 at 1 p.m.
* A New park for the old Interurban Forest (led by Rod Drown) on Friday, May 6 at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 7 at 11 a.m. and Sunday May 8 at 2 p.m.
* Building stones of New Westminster (led by Coun. Patrick Johnstone) on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m.
* Promenade on the Pattullo (led by Jenni Lynnea) on Saturday, May 7 at 10 a.m.
* Pinball travel, pinball travelling, pinball transportation (led by Mary Wilson) on Saturday, May 7 at 10:30 a.m.
* New Westminster’s secret park – Sapperton Landing (led by Dale Darychuk)) on Saturday, May at 11 a.m.
* A Mother’s Day Walk at Pier Park (led by Karon Trenaman and son Lucan, Mary Wilson and Coun. Mary Trentadue and son Leo) on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m.
* Walking the Brow (led by Nadine Nakagawa) on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m.
* Educational institutions in New Westminster: past and present in the landscape (led by Earl Noah) on Saturday, May 7 at 2 p.m.
* Walk in the historic Queen’s Park neighbourhood (led by Dorothy King Cummer and Patrick Corrigan) on Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m.
For a full lineup of this year’s walks go to www.janeswalk.org/canada.new-westminster as some walks may have been added after the Record’s deadline. A list of walks will also be available at the New Westminster Public Library at 716 Sixth Ave.