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New West hopes to get in on the 2026 FIFA World Cup action

Could public viewing and community celebrations be coming to New Westminster during when the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes to Vancouver?
The City of New Westminster will consider how to get community members involved in World Cup 2026 fun.

New Westminster wants to see if it can get in on 2026 FIFA World Cup action.

At Monday’s meeting, council unanimously approved a motion from Mayor Patrick Johnstone related to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which includes seven games in Vancouver in June and July 2026.

Council unanimously approved a motion to have staff report back to council with opportunities to activate public spaces across New Westminster and to engage with local cultural, youth, sports and business organizations for free and low-barrier public gathering, public viewing and community celebrations to coincide with the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Staff will also report back on opportunities for the city to apply for external funding for the initiative.

“I think that this is an opportunity for us to think about a good way to activate the city,” Johnstone said. “It's going to be a big event for region.”

Johnstone said the World Cup is an event that brings the world together and brings people together to celebrate their cultures. With kickoff to the Word Cup being almost two years away, he said it’s important to connect with organizations, including the BIA, the chamber of commerce and Tourism New Westminster, about ways New West can get involved.

The motion’s preamble stated that the FIFA World Cup is the most widely viewed and followed single sporting event in the world and features participants from 48 nations on six continents . The motion said the event represents a unique opportunity for a community like New Westminster, with its rich diversity of cultures and nations of origin, to bring community together and celebrate through sport and cultural exchange.

The motion goes on to say there are economic and other barriers to direct participation in FIFA World Cup 2026 events for many members of the New West community.

Council unanimously endorsed Johnstone’s motion, which was also supported by two delegates who appeared before council at Monday night’s meeting.

Johanna Pabon said local events would provide a “great opportunity” to promote New Westminster and to engage local residents in activities around the World Cup.

Bereket Kebede said the motion has the potential to unite the city in celebrating its diversity and strengthening community spirit. He thanked council for making New Westminster one of the first cities to begin preparations for FIFA 2026 so it can “embrace the magic” of this global event.

“FIFA World Cup is not merely a sporting spectacle. It transcends boundaries, cultures and languages to unite in celebration,” he said. “It's a time when the streets buzz with excitement, strangers become friends and the beautiful game unites hearts across continents.”

Kebede believes public viewing parties can transform the city’s parks and plaza into hubs of activities and showcase the city’s diverse cultures.

“FIFA 2026 provides us with a unique platform to highlight the beauty of our community and our city,” he said. “I encourage you to seize this historic moment, embrace the spirit of the World Cup and support the motion to populate our spaces for this extraordinary event. Together let's make the 2026 FIFA World Cup a celebration to remember for years to come, a celebration that echoes in the hearts and minds of all who call our city home.”

Canucks on Columbia

Coun. Daniel Fontaine supported Johnstone’s motion, saying “it’s a good thing” any time the city can do a street activation.

Fontaine proposed an amendment to Johnstone’s motion suggesting the city “gain further insight into the potential opportunities and pitfalls” of this type of sport-based street activations by opening up Hyack Square for a Canucks on Columbia family-oriented event for the 2024 playoffs, which would broadcast Vancouver Canucks playoff games. The motion said staff could report back after the playoffs with lessons learned that could be incorporated into street activation for the 2026 World Cup event.

Johnstone said the event proposed by Fontaine is “fundamentally different” than the one he proposed.

“I'm talking about us beginning a planning process around something that would take place two years from now. This sounds like a completely different body of work that would have to be issued immediately,” he said. “I think this is fundamentally a different item, other than the fact that they're two sports. I don't think there's any real connection between these two items.”

After getting input from Dennis Back, the city’s acting corporate officer –  who stated  the amendment should be  considered  separately as it does not relate to the FIFA motion –  Johnstone ruled Fontaine’s amendment to be out of order.

“I don't think it's a bad idea,” Johnstone said of Canucks on Columbia. “I don't think this is the proper way for us to introduce it. I think that it puts staff in a difficult situation.”

Fontaine disagreed with Johnstone’s ruling, saying his amendment is “absolutely linked” to the mayor’s motion about the City of New Westminster doing street activations for a sport event.

“2026 is going to be here before we know it,” he said.

Following Johnstone’s ruling that he amendment was out of order, Fontaine  challenged the chair, which required council to vote on whether Johnstone’s motion would stand or be overturned by council. In a 4-2 vote, council upheld Johnstone’s decision.

Fontaine supported the idea of having the city provide events for the World Cup, but was disappointed New Westminster is going to “miss out on the opportunity” to do the Canucks on Columbia. He said Delta and Port Coquitlam have planned street activations related to the Vancouver Canucks playoff games.

The Vancouver Canucks officially clinched a spot in the NHL playoffs on March 30 – marking the first time they’ve made the playoffs since the shortened 2019-20 season. They are currently vying against the Nashville Predators in the first round and won Game 1 on Sunday night.