Here's a look back at some of the happenings in New Westminster in 2018

You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.

As we get set to turn our calendars to 2019, we’re stopping to take a look back at the year behind us and some of the stories that have made headlines over the past 12 months.

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From the big issues that have dominated the headlines – and will undoubtedly continue to do so in 2019 – to the small and quirky happenings that caught our attention, we’ve rounded up some of the highlights of New Westminster’s happenings in 2018.

January

New Westminster city council approves a new one per cent tax levy to help finance capital projects like the Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre replacement project. The new levy, which takes effect this year, is expected to provide about $755,000 for city coffers in 2018 and to grow to about $4 million annually by 2022.

Students at New Westminster Secondary School launch a petition in response to a decision to make it mandatory for Grade 12 students to take a full course load – a new practice being implemented without any notice to parents or students. School administration says the change was made to “support student success in achieving increased school engagement”, but will consider applications by students for study blocks for exceptional circumstances. More than 1,300 people sign an online petition objecting to the change.

A train fire at a train yard in Port Coquitlam that closed Lougheed Highway to traffic for several hours on Jan. 22 prompts New Westminster to seek a review of the potential local risks and responses if such an event occurred in the Royal City. The city plans to set up a meeting with Southern Railway so everyone is clear about what happens if an incident involving a train occurs in New West.

February

New Westminster proposes a 2.95 per cent property tax increase in 2018 – on top of a six per cent increase to the water utility, a seven per cent increase to the sewer utility and a three per cent increase to solid waste rates.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver appoints New Westminster resident Jonina Campbell as the provincial party’s second deputy leader. The New West school trustee ran for the Greens in New West in the 2017 provincial election.

Brow of the Hill Alice Cavanagh Rick Vugteveen
February: Rick Vugteveen and Alice Cavanagh appeared on behalf of the Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association at a city council meeting, where they appealed to the city to plant more trees and create more greenspaces in the neighbourhood. - Jennifer Gauthier

The Brow of the Hill Residents’ Association appeals to city hall to green up their neighbourhood by planting more trees and creating more parks. Representatives encourage the city to introduce some short-term and long-term initiatives aimed at improving the livability of the neighbourhood.

Premier John Horgan visits New Westminster to announce the province is taking on the role of designing, financing and building a $1.377-billion crossing to replace the 1937 Pattullo Bridge. A new bridge was included in TransLink’s 10-year vision for the region but had no identified funding source.

March

May Queen 2018
March: Betty Sutton is the May Queen and Liam Banziger is the Royal Consort in the 2018 May Queen suite. It’s the first time students from Connaught Heights have won the draw for the spots since Kimberley Dawn Bosnic was crowned the May Queen in 1990. - Cornelia Naylor

Connaught Heights Elementary School breaks a 28-year drought by winning the May Day draw. Betty Sutton is named the city’s 148th May Queen and Liam Banziger is the school’s Royal Knight.

Richard McBride Elementary School parents and students are overjoyed when Education Minister Rob Fleming visits the Sapperton school to announce the 89-year-old school will be replaced by a brand new, $22.6-million school. It’s set to open in 2021.

The New Westminster Board of Education names associate superintendent Karim Haclaf as the new superintendent of the New Westminster School District.

Representatives from local lacrosse, ringette and hockey associations appeal to city council to construct a third rink in New Westminster – as soon as possible. Youths tell council a third rink would result in better practice and game times, more access to public skating and increased opportunities for local sports groups to host tournaments.

New Westminster school superintendent Karim Haclaf tells the Record that his team put together a proposal to add a fourth storey to the new high school to better address enrolment needs – but the ministry of education rejected the request. Site preparation is now underway for the new school, which will have room for 1,900 students.

April

Humboldt
April: New Westminster residents gather at Queen's Park Arena tonight to pay their respects to the 16 people who died and more than a dozen injured when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior A hockey team crashed into a semi-truck in rural Saskatchewan. - Jennifer Gauthier

Local citizens and sports groups pay tribute to the Humboldt Broncos by hosting a community event at Queen’s Park Arena. A bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior A hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer in rural Saskatchewan on April 6, killing 16 people and injuring 13.

A man is killed in a workplace accident at a container yard in Queensborough on April 6. WorkSafe is investigating the incident, in which the man was hit by a semi-truck while working in the yard.

Front Street is once again off limits to trucks due to a major sewer upgrade project being undertaken by Metro Vancouver. The work is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

A skateboarder is dead after colliding with a semi-truck in Queensborough on Boyd Street near Wood Street. The police department’s collision investigation team is investigating the crash.

May

The city announces the Q to Q ferry will once again sail from the Quay to Queensborough. The service, which includes two 12-passenger vessels, will run from May to October. (Later in the year, the city will further extend the service till next spring.)

More than 200 community members and supporters of the Hyack Swim Club descend on city hall to appeal to council to build a 10-lane swimming pool as part of a plan to replace the Canada Games Pool and Centennial Community Centre. The current plan is for a pool with eight, 50-metre lanes, but the delegations tell council that isn’t suitable for hosting competitions or addressing the city’s growing population.

June

olivia malcom
June: Community members mourn the tragic death of Olivia Malcom, daughter of longtime New Westminster residents Briget and Tony Malcom. The lacrosse community, New Westminster Fire and Rescue Services and community members are among those who pack Queen’s Park Arena for a celebration of Olivia’s life and help raise more than $110,000 for the Olivia Malcom Kindness Bursary. - GoFundMe

Many community members are devastated by the tragic death of 19-year-old Olivia Malcom, who was killed after being hit by a car on June 2 when heading home from watching the Junior A Salmonbellies play a game in Ladner. Community members pack Queen’s Park Arena for a celebration of the young woman’s life, and a GoFundMe campaign raises more than $110,000 for the Olivia Malcom Kindness Bursary, which will help students pursue a post-secondary education.

New Westminster city council approves a plan that will consider two pool designs for the Canada Games Pool replacement project – a community recreation facility and an enhanced competition-hosting capacity. The city supports the enhanced 10-lane pool if it’s successful in getting a grant from the federal government.

Some uptown residents express frustration that the parklet on Belmont Street has become a smokers’ paradise – and that the city isn’t enforcing the no-smoking rules. The city plans to brainstorm ideas on how to handle the situation.

The city scales back plans for the size of the replacement for the Queen’s Park Arenex after it’s determined the 24,000-square-foot multiple sports facility that was previously approved will cost too much. Instead, the city will erect a structure that’s 14,000 square feet – the same size as the Arenex, which collapsed in December 2016.

New Westminster city council approves a modular housing project for homeless women or women at risk of homelessness following a raucous six-hour public hearing in council chambers, where proponents appealed to the city to provide housing for women and opponents urged the city to find a different location in Queensborough that’s not next to schools, parks and services frequented by children. The plan calls for a 44-unit modular housing project at 838 Ewen Ave.

July

With a ninth elementary school in New West on the school board’s radar, the school district begins to consider the potential for a new school that would feed into Fraser River Middle School and accommodate projected growth in in the area.

Crowds descend on downtown New Westminster for the 2018 New West Grand Prix, the second year the B.C. Superweek bike race is held in the Royal City.

New Westminster continues to prepare for October’s legalization of the production, sale and distribution of non-medical cannabis. Having developed a framework that addresses regulatory issues for pot shops, the city decides to start small and allow five shops to open in various neighbourhoods in the first year of legalization.

The New Westminster Museum and Archives teams up with the Vancouver LEGO Club to put on the impressive People Gotta Move exhibit, which looks at what happens on the city’s roads, sidewalks, waterways and tracks through a LEGO lens. The exhibition is a hit and attracts folks of all ages to the museum.

So long Arenex, hello Sportsplex. City council adopts Queen’s Park Sportsplex as the name for the $4.3-milion multi-sport facility that will be built on the reservoir/tennis site in Queen’s Park. It will provide space for services that had been offered in the Arenex.

Officers with rifles and face shields descend on an apartment at Sixth Avenue and 12th Street after a resident barricades himself in his suite. Police, who had been called to the apartment to check on the wellbeing of one of the residents, take a person to hospital without injury.

New Westminster Police credit the “quick thinking and immediate action” of a passerby for saving the life of a man who was overdosing in Westminster Pier Park on July 26. The caller saw a man in the park whom he believed may be overdosing and ran to the police station to get help.

August

SOGI
August: Around 30 people waved rainbow flags, held signs, and cheered and waved at passing vehicles at a “love rally” outside a New West church on a warm summer night, while people inside Free Methodist Community Church attended an anti-SOGI event hosted by New Westminster- and Burnaby-based group Canadian Council for Faith and Family Values. - File

About 30 people wave rainbow flags and signs at a “love rally” outside a New Westminster church – while people inside the Free Methodist Community Church attend an anti-SOGI event hosted by the Canadian Council for Faith and Family Values. SOGI 123 is a resource that helps schools provide an inclusive and safe space for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities – SOGI.

The New Westminster Public Library moves into the final phase of its $5.5-million renovation, which will result in a new technology lab, a new teen area, a new circulation desk, updated accessible washrooms and more. Phase 3 of the renovation, which will render the main floor off limits, is expected to take six to eight months to complete.

Buy-Low Foods in Westminster Centre closes the doors on Aug. 26 – much to the dismay of shoppers accustomed to buying groceries at the 25,000-square-foot supermarket that opened in the mall in January 2015.

More than 60 people pack a local hall on a hot summer day for a community meeting about renovictions hosted by the Vancouver Tenants’ Union. Tenants of at least 10 local buildings have been evicted by property owners so they can do renovictions and hike rental rates – and more renovictions are expected as buildings change ownership.

September

As the Oct. 20 civic election approaches, candidates for mayor, city council and school board start announcing they’re running – or not seeking re-election. At the filing deadline, there are four candidates vying for mayor, 14 for city councillor and 16 for school trustee.

A 27-year-old New Westminster man faces a number of charges after an attack on the Queensborough Bridge. Police says the man wielding a hammer attacked a 75-year-old pedestrian who was walking on the sidewalk on the bridge – and went after two passersby who tried to intervene.

A man makes headlines nationally after police release a video of an incident at the Tim Hortons’ at Eighth and Carnarvon from Sept. 6 – when he’s seen verbally attacking staff, pouring an Iced Capp on the counter and knocking the register on the ground.

October

West Coast rockers 54-40 appeal for help in recovering seven “irreplaceable” vintage guitars and some equipment that are stolen from a van parked in front of Queen’s Park Care Centre. Within days, New Westminster Police locate five of the stolen guitars and some of the equipment from a storage facility in Surrey.

New Westminster launches a second solar garden – this one on the roof of a building at the city’s works yard – after the 156 panels on the first solar array at the Queensborough Community Centre were quickly snapped up.

The province presents the City of New Westminster with an Age-Friendly Certificate – a designation that’s the result of extensive training and education of city staff on how to be helpful and supportive of seniors and making physical improvements to infrastructure.

The driver of a large commercial truck walked away unscathed after his vehicle crashed through the barrier at the foot of Holmes Street and landed in Hume Park on Dec. 3.


Jonathan Cote
October: Mayor Jonathan Cote, shown here with wife Alix, was re-elected mayor in the Oct. 20 municipal election, which saw two new councillors elected (replacing incumbents Lorrie Williams and Bill Harper who retired) and five new school trustees elected. - Lisa King

Diversity wins big in the 2018 civic election, when a record number of women win seats on school board and visible minority candidates find their way, not only onto city council and school board, but to the top of the polls. Team Cote, a slate of candidates led by incumbent Mayor Jonathan Cote that’s endorsed by the New Westminster and District Labour Council, take the mayor’s chair and all six seats on city council, as well as all five spots they sought to fill on school board. The new New West Progressives electors’ group is shut out in its quest for seats on city council, but wins one spot on school board and an independent trustee candidate takes the final spot on school board.

November

Residents of a downtown condo are evacuated when a drug lab is discovered after an explosion. The fire department’s hazardous materials team and the federal clandestine drug lab team are brought in to dismantle the lab and remove anything that could pose a threat to investigators.

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote is elected as the new chair of the Mayors Council for Regional Transportation, which is responsible for considering TransLink plans dealing with transportation service levels, major capital projects, regional funding and more.

It’s  a double win for the Arts Council of New Westminster, with two of its leaders taking home top awards at the annual Platinum Awards, which recognize businesses’ and individuals’ achievements and contributions to the community. Stephen O’Shea, executive director, is named New Westminster’s Citizen of the Year, while Leanne Ewen, president, wins the Bernie Legge Cultural Award.


The New Westminster Hyacks varsity football team give it their best shot but lose to Mount Douglas in their quest for a second consecutive B.C. Subway Bowl AAA football crown.

December

A driver of a large commercial truck walks away unscathed after crashing through a barrier  at the foot of Holmes Street at East Columbia Street – and plummeting into Hume Park. New Westminster police are investigating..

The federal and provincial governments announce they’ll be funding a pedestrian/cyclist overpass over Stewardson Way near the Queensborough Bridge. Residents have been calling for an overpass ever since changes were made to the access to Queensborough Bridge in 2004.

In an effort to liven up Anvil Centre and make everyone feel at home in the city’s conference centre on Columbia Street, the city hosts the Winter Celebrations at Anvil Centre from Dec. 18 to 29. The new seasonal extravaganza includes musical performances, arts and crafts, art installations, a wintry labyrinth and more.

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