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New West maps out plans for future of Hume Park

Facilities for lacrosse and other sports, ecological enhancements among items included in the Hume Park master plan

The Hume Park master plan maps out the city’s plans for New Westminster’s second largest park in the coming years.

At its May 9 meeting, council adopted the master plan, which will help the city make decisions about how to develop the 31.72-acre park in a way that responds to population growth in the Sapperton neighbourhood and deals with amenities, such as the lacrosse box and swimming pool, as they near the end of their lives.

“It’s a long-term vision for the park,” Derek Lee, a principal with PWL Partnership Landscape Architects Inc., told council when seeking final input to the plan at a April 25 workshop. “It’s a roadmap to inform decisions about ecological assets, recreational facilities and activities. It’s a plan for improving the park to serve the community’s future needs and priorities. And it’s living document that will be revisited periodically into the years and decades to come.”

According to a staff report, the total estimated cost for the short-term (one to five years), medium-term (six to 10 years) and long-term (beyond 10 years) recommendations in the master plan ranges from $8.6 to 18.2 million.

“Prior to implementation, each of the park improvements identified in this plan will require a future engagement and detailed design phase to determine accurate detailed design and cost estimate,” noted the report.

Items included in the city’s current five-year financial plan include: improvements to the Central Valley Greenway near Lower Hume ($1.2 million); a feasibility study about the outdoor pool ($150,000); upgrades and repairs to the outdoor pool and building ($709,000); repair of the concession roof ($10,000); reforestation ($25,000); tennis courts replacement ($550,000); and spray park replacement ($150,000).

Developed over the course of several years, Lee said there was “tremendous” support in the community for creating a park that not only supports diverse users and abilities and continues to serve as the heart of the community, but also enhances the park’s natural systems and biodiversity.

What’s planned for Upper Hume?

Under the plan, Upper Hume will continue to house a playground and natural play amenities, off-leash dog areas and a variety of sports amenities, including two regulation-sized tennis courts for tennis or pickleball, a multi-use sports field for Little League, softball, soccer, rugby and informal uses. A “flexible multi-use sports box” will provide space for lacrosse, as well as up to four multi-sports courts including basketball, volleyball, tennis, badminton and dodge ball.

“In Upper Hume, we heard that the sports facilities, the structural program like the spray park and lacrosse box should be retained and improved,” Lee said. “Our response was, it will retain most regulation-size sports amenities and provide the needed facilities upgrade.”

Lee said the process considered things that could be combined, rather than being for a single use, such as combining lacrosse with other court sports.

In addition to regulation-sized sports facilities, Upper Hume will also include areas for socializing and gathering, informal sports and social activity, and a consolidated facility for washrooms, changes rooms, and concession.

Currently home to one of the city’s two outdoor swimming pools, details about plans for Hume Park’s “aquatic zone” will be determined through a separate process.

What about Lower Hume?

According to the master plan, the planning concept for Lower Hume prioritizes ecology, and further enhancing the natural elements in Lower Hume. In this part of the park, the baseball diamond will be removed and the lawn area will be consolidated to create space for greater biodiversity and a native planting strategy.

River ecology in Lower Hume is proposed to be enhanced with the creation of fish habitat and a constructed wetland.

During public engagement, Lee said people supported the idea of preserving and enhancing the ecology in Lower Hume.

“So we responded by prioritizing the protection and enhancement of Lower Hume with restoration and habitat construction,” Lee said. “We also heard that the experience of nature in the city should be expanded within the opportunities for direct contact with nature, and we responded by providing opportunities for contact with the ecology of Hume Park, including boardwalks through the riparian zone and interpretive signage.”

The focus in Lower Hume will be on expanding the ecology, inviting the river into the site, and designating ways that people can observe, walk and reconnect to the Brunette River. This concept includes pathways and seating that allow people that provide viewpoints to the natural areas.

The existing picnic shelter will be preserved, pollinator meadows will be introduced and some of the “grand lawn” around the picnic shelter will remain.

Hits the mark

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said he had more calls about the lacrosse box than any other piece of the plan, so he’s pleased to see that lacrosse will still be able to be played in the park.

Coun. Patrick Johnstone said the plan “hits the mark” well in terms of what’s proposed for Lower and Upper Hume and what the city heard during the engagement process. He said there was a recognition in the community about the need for a “refresh” in the park but there was some concern about the word 'change.'

“This is a really valued public space in that neighbourhood. So the word change ended up being very triggering, but enhancing or making things work better was definitely preferred,” he said. “So yeah, the lacrosse box of course was very valued by the neighbourhood, so was the pool. I know that the pool, that that is kind putting a pin in it right now, recognizing that that is a water area but we will deal with the detail of what that looks like in a future discussion.”

Johnstone supports the plan’s efforts to enhance the river and do some ecology work in Lower Hume.

“That is one of our few viable ecological areas," he said. "On a hot summer day, there are many people just in the lower part of Hume – it is a cool place to be temperature wise. And being by the river is a nice place to be. Enhancing that ecology so people can actually interact with the river a little bit and be in that space is a great balance.”

Mayor Jonathan Cote said the plan has achieved the goals and objectives for the Lower and Upper parts of Hume Park. If anything, he said he’d prefer that the plan “be bolder” in terms of expanding the ecological area in Lower Hume.

“I see a lot of new elements there that will improve that Brunette Creek area but I also see a large festival lawn which, I’ll be honest, is not what I would say is ecological restoration,” he said. “I’d also say, with my knowledge of how that field is used, it is not the most well used field. Frankly, I think nature is trying to take over the field half the year with water issues there. And to me, I’d say that’s a clear sign of an area that, if we were to build in a little bit more space for the ecological area, that to me would be the natural place to do that.”

As for the outdoor pool, the plan states that a separate process will determine whether the pool should be updated, reconstructed  or re-imagined as part of an aquatic zone

Cote was on council when the former Kiwanis Pool in Moody Park unexpectedly reached the end of its life and needed to be replaced with a new facility.

“Sometimes the priority timelines choose themselves. I think of how the old Moody Park (pool) ended – it chose itself to come to an end,” he said. “We obviously might be pressured, whether it is the pool or some other facility in the park that has its own mind in terms of what the timeline ought to be. So I think we will obviously need to have that flexibility but also have a good idea about the infrastructure we do have in place and be realistic about when that timeline might be done.”

In addition to endorsing the plan, council approved an amendment put forward by Johnstone to refer the plan to the city’s social inclusion and reconciliation engagement advisory committee and task force for a discussion about potential for Indigenous place-making opportunities along the Brunette River part of the park.

“I think we can better reflect the ecology and the pre-colonial history of the Brunette River and the importance of the Brunette River by letting that and having that task force have a bit of a discussion about what opportunities might exist,” he said.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus


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