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New Westminster expands its vision for the waterfront

New Westminster’s vision for the riverfront has expanded past the downtown.
Westminster Pier Park
Learn about Westminster Pier Park, an award-winning park on New Westminster's waterfront, from the landscape architect who helped plan the park.

New Westminster’s vision for the riverfront has expanded past the downtown.

Back in 2011, city council developed a waterfront vision that sought to improve connectivity between the downtown and the waterfront, to return Front Street to a pedestrian-friendly retail street with historic storefronts and to strive to eliminate train whistles and clean up the rail corridor. Since then, the city has built Westminster Pier Park, started work on demolishing part of the Front Street parkade, planned for a new Front Street mews and worked to eliminate train whistles.

On Monday, council considered an updated vision for the Royal City’s waterfront, which includes three goals: creating a continuous network of attractive greenways and parks; providing connections from all neighbourhoods to the river; and programming and animating the waterfront with an active, engaging and dynamic series of experiences compatible with existing industrial uses that entice visitors to explore its many destinations and adjacent amenities.

“The vision has expanded from the downtown,” said Mark Allison, the city’s manager of strategic initiatives and sustainability. “It has expanded city wide.”

Council endorsed in principle the updated waterfront vision and a list of projects.

“The waterfront is the city’s most significant cultural, economic and natural asset,” states the vision. “It is home to vibrant and diverse public spaces, high-quality recreation, business and housing and significant natural features.It is an integral component of the local economy, providing employment, services and tourism opportunities while providing a living link to the city’s past.”

The city’s new vision for the waterfront includes a variety of initiatives related to the 12 kilometres of waterfront along the Fraser and Brunette rivers in New Westminster, from Sapperton to Queensborough, such as:

* Building the Q2Q pedestrian and bicycle bridge to connect the Quay and Queensborough.

* Developing a connection between Westminster Pier Park and Sapperton Landing Park.

* Upgrading the Hyack Square pedestrian overpass and the McInnes vehicle/pedestrian overpass so they offer a more attractive experience for pedestrians and provide more accessible connections between the downtown and the waterfront.

* Establishing a pedestrian and cycling connection across Stewardson Way near 20th Street to connect people on the west side of the city to the B.C. Parkway and the waterfront.

* Developing a branding and marketing plan for the city’s waterfront.

* Developing a tourism plan in 2017 that identifies actions to promote the waterfront as a tourism-related asset throughout the city, including additional events and animation.

* Incorporating water-related activities such as marinas and piers and places on the foreshore for boating, kayaking and interaction with the water, as opportunities arise through park and greenway development.

Do you like the city’s vision for the Fraser River? What do you think the city should do with the waterfront? Tweet us @TheRecord, or send us an email, editorial@new