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Downtown New West BIA brings back place-making program

Program returns after being put on hold in 2020 by COVID-19
Festival of Circus Arts, held at Westminster Pier Park in August 2019, was one of the place-making initiatives funded in the inaugural year of the Downtown New Westminster BIA’s grant program to activate public spaces.

Do you have unique ideas on how to safely activate public spaces in downtown New Westminster? If so, the Downtown New West BIA wants to hear from you.

In partnership with the City of New Westminster, the BIA is inviting individuals, businesses and not-for-profits to submit proposals for unique and innovative activations in public spaces. A volunteer jury will select three projects to support in 2021. 

“We saw such success with this program in 2019 and want to see it bring joy to the community again in 2021,” said Kendra Johnston, the Downtown New West BIA’s executive director. “Whether or not you’ve done something like this before, we encourage you to apply. Successful applicants will not only be granted funding to make your idea happen, but we’ll support you with logistical and promotional expertise as well.”

The BIA launched the place-making program in 2019, but had to put the initiative on hold in 2020 because of COVID-19.

“Public space has become so much more important during the pandemic; to have spaces where people can get outside and enjoy their community safely is vital,” Johnston said. “We know that there are super creative and safe ideas out there and we look forward to supporting people in making those ideas happen within our downtown.”

The goals of the place-making program are to: foster activations in public spaces that are safe, welcoming and inclusive; build community by encouraging people to connect with each other safely in public spaces; and test new ideas and help identify/remove barriers that discourage activations of public spaces.

Fostering connections

The BIA is looking for creative ways to activate public spaces, to get people outside, to foster social connections, to build community and to make the downtown more fun and inclusive. All activations must be safe and abide by all COVID-19 safety protocols.

In 2019, the BIA received 23 submissions for place-making projects and funded three initiatives: the augmented reality You Are Home mural on McKenzie Street; the Festival of Circus Arts at Westminster Pier Park; and the Play New West hopscotch installation on Front Street.

This year, the BIA will be funding three projects for up to $2,500 each, which can go toward the costs of producing the activation, such as materials, artist fees, insurance, marketing, equipment rental and supplies. The BIA will also provide promotional support and guidance in acquiring any necessary permits from the city.

This year’s activations, which must take place in public spaces in the downtown before Dec. 15, can be held on a single day, recurring pop-ups or a seasonal installation. Proposals must be submitted online by March 8.

“The Downtown New West BIA wishes to highlight how diverse our community is, and in order to break down any exclusionary barriers and create a platform for marginalized voices, artists on the LGBTQ spectrum, non-binary artists, artists of colour, Indigenous artists, and disabled artists, are strongly encouraged to submit,” said a notice about the program.

For details, go to Questions about the program can be emailed to



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