New Westminster becoming the "place to be" in the region

Mayor Wayne Wright has announced that a New West Economic Forum will be held on the Royal City's waterfront in November.

The New Westminster Chamber of Commerce and the City of New Westminster will team up to welcome industry experts who will deliver information on future opportunities and examine the trends influencing our economy at the Nov. 8 forum. The forum is expected to attract 250 developers, business leaders and potential investors from across the Lower Mainland and to provide a platform for community leaders and stakeholders to discuss economic development opportunities in the growing city.

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Wright announced the forum at the chamber's leadership luncheon on April 11, where he gave a "state of the city" address at The Columbia Theatre. He told the crowd that some of the changes that have been underway for the past few years are now coming to fruition, such as Westminster Pier Park.

"We are becoming the place to be," he said. "We are the city of the future."

Wright said the city has completed the downtown community plan and is using that as a map for downtown development. While the population in the downtown will grow, he said the city is committed to providing amenities such as the park and the civic centre for new and existing residents.

Wright's noted that once the civic centre is complete, organizations like the chamber of commerce won't have to go outside of New Westminster to host larger events. He said conferences will be able to be held in the city because a variety of locations will be able to join forces to accommodate those events.

On the topic of transportation, Wright told the crowd that the city is updating its master transportation plan, which will address all aspects of transportation, including the Pattullo Bridge. While TransLink is considering specific alignments for replacing the Pattullo Bridge, Wright said the city's consultation process will consider all options, which could include a new location for the bridge or no new bridge at all.

Wright also spoke about the city's need to help press the province for an expansion to Royal Columbian Hospital. He believes there's a possibility that it could serve a role as a campus for research and development.

"We think this government has to look at this, very closely," he said about the hospital's expansion plan. "It is very past its need of change time."

A press release from the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce stated that New Westminster has played a key role in the development of the region and province for generations, but population growth and a changing economic landscape have brought new opportunities.

"What made today's mayor's address so powerful was the collaborative spirit in the room," said chamber president Andrew Hopkins. "The question and answer period following the speech lasted as long, if not longer than his address. All of the questions and suggestions were constructive and solution-oriented which demonstrated a true sense of a community working together."

During the question and answer session, Wright fielded questions on a variety of topics including the Pattullo Bridge, a pedestrian crossing to Queensborough, the status of a children's submarine playground at the Quay and train noise.

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