Woes continue for New West's Pier Park elevator

Chris Campbell

The City of New Westminster sent out a tweet on Thursday that drew a brilliant response.

The tweet said the Westminster Pier Park elevator was out of service, but crews were working on repairing it.

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“Evergreen tweet” was the droll response from Coun. Patrick Johnstone.

I spit Dr. Pepper all over my keyboard on that one.

It was funny because lately it has seemed like the elevator has been broken a lot based on my memory of recent city tweets.

But is that actually true?

part tweet

I contacted Jim Lowrie, director of engineering for the city, to get hard numbers and an explanation. One of the great things about the city is how accessible staff members are to media – something that is rare to find with other cities (looking at you Vancouver).

I know Lowrie from my time working at a paper that covered Pitt Meadows and he’s a straight-shooter.

According to Lowrie, the elevator has been broken nine times in 2018 – including three times since the beginning of November. Seven out of the nine total breakdowns are due to vandalism. Lowrie said the time it takes to get the elevator running again ranges from a few hours to two days – but estimated the average time out of commission is about a day.

Lowrie said the vandalism issue is troubling and the city is looking at options to try and deter it, including possibly installing security cameras.

“It is an issue we’re concerned about,” he said.

The city considered vandalism when it designed the elevator. In 2016, Mayor Jonathan Cote told the Record thatthe city opted for a glass elevator that’s fully visible as a crime-prevention measure.

Now the city might have to spend even more money on cameras or other measures.

The elevator has had a troubled history. Its construction was delayed nearly a year due to such issues as parts not arriving on time, coordination issues between the parties involved in the project, and changes made to the size and design of the elevator.

I guess you could say the elevator project has had its ups and downs (#dadjokes).

Then, just a week after the elevator opened in March 2016, a malfunctioning circuit board led to its closure.

The overall goal of the elevator is good. People with accessibility issues, as well as those with bikes and strollers, are frequent users of the elevator, which is a good thing.

But now the city is looking at possibly curtailing some of the later hours of the elevator due to the vandalism, Lowrie said.

The city is now looking at building a ramp crossing at 6th Street for the Pier West project, possibly by the end of 2019, providing an option for the times the elevator is down, Lowrie said.

I asked Johnstone what he thought about the situation and he was customarily frank.

“To me, it makes the point that elevators are not always the best accessibility option in outdoor areas, and is part of the reason I pushed for a ramp instead for the new overpass at 6th,” he said.

That seems like a good assessment.

It’s up to you to decide if nine times in one year is a lot. It might not actually be a lot.

It just tweets that way.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter and Instagram @shinebox44

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