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New West mural seeks to show We Are One

Downtown BIA pursues plans to activate public spaces
BIA Mura Columbia Street
Artists Ela Maftei and Mihai Darvasa of MD Murals recently completed a mural for the Downtown New West BIA on Columbia Street.

A colourful new mural in Downtown New Westminster aims to bolster people’s spirits during a stressful time.

The Downtown New West Business Improvement Association has unveiled We Are One, a three-side mural designed to inspire community healing with vibrant colours that focus on unity, gratitude and connection. It can be found on the wooden fencing surrounding a vacant site at Columbia, Mackenzie and Front streets.

The mural, done as part of the BIA’s #togethernewwest campaign, was created by artists Ela Maftei and Mihai Darvasa of MD Murals, who incorporated images inside and around block-lettered words.

BIA Mural Columbia Street
A vacant site in downtown New West is now surrounded by a mural designed to lift community spirits in challenging times. The Downtown New West BIA funded the project - and is working on more projects as part of its #togethernewwest campaign. - Contributed

On Columbia Street, large letters spell out “#togethernewwest” with a cityscape of the street in the background, and the Mackenzie Street side of the mural features a bold and colorful “Thank you!” in recognition of essential workers. The Front Street side of the mural presents imagery and the words “Our world, our home” in an effort to show that COVID-19 isn’t just a local issue, and New Westminster is part of something bigger.

“This piece was meant to be,” said Kendra Johnston, executive director of the Downtown New West BIA. “Ela and Mihai reached out at the exact right time with the exact right vision; everything came together quickly and seamlessly. We were thrilled to see the process of their work and watch residents enjoy their spectacular creation as they walk down Columbia Street.”

Darvasa said the artists are thankful that the BIA gave them the opportunity and the freedom to have their ideas come alive on a large scale.

“The community was very receptive to our message, very appreciative, and we would also like to thank them for their support,” Darvasa said in a news release. “This is the first mural in our hometown and we are really excited to have a chance to paint in our community.”

Mural BIA Columbia Street
Artists Ela Maftei and Mihai Darvasa of MD Murals recently completed a colourful, three-sided mural for the Downtown New West BIA. - Contributed

Each summer the BIA organizes a variety of events in the Downtown, including the food truck festival and Fridays on Fronts. With large gatherings prohibited because of COVID-19, the BIA is working on other plans to activate public spaces in the neighbourhood and more details are expected to be announced soon.

The City of New Westminster recently agreed to allow the BIA to put its city grant toward a #togethernewwest campaign.

“We have a separate project in the works that will use the repurposed grant money,” Johnston said in an email to the Record. “This (mural) is part of the same campaign but the mural was funded entirely by the BIA.”