Our Past: The changing face of New West neighbourhoods

When it comes to large-scale city projects, New Westminster is a busy place right now.

Recently, while helping some folks to understand the photo display at the Westminster Centre uptown, we found they were quite taken with the number of locations in the city that have been under major construction on a number of occasions during the city’s history.

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In Sapperton, the Royal Columbian Hospital site has been an active spot since it was first built in that location in 1889. It wasn’t too long before a greatly expanded facility was built in 1912. Since then, the land in question has seen project after project enhance the site with new structures all needed to provide newer methods of care.

At present, the site is a beehive of activity, with a long list of construction projects on the drawing boards and underway. Still looking at Sapperton, another part of the neighbourhood with a history of ongoing work is just down the block from RCH.

The area now called the Brewery District is busy. This was the site of an early brewery in New Westminster. Then, after many decades, the use of the location changed, the last brewery structures were torn down, and now new buildings, both commercial and residential, have risen and continue to rise from the land. Again, we have projects from the 1800s to the present day.

The Pattullo Bridge will be replaced with a new structure that will be the most recent crossing in the same general location, providing a transportation link across the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey. Following a couple of simple ferry boats, the first bridge was opened in 1904.

Queen’s Park has been home to a number of projects, again from the late 1800s right up to the present day. The first of the large structures built in the park were the buildings that would, in time, form the provincial exhibition site with the biggest by far being the Agricultural Building, Industrial Building and Women’s Building, along with a whole array of others. After these, there was the Arena and Arenex with the former still there in a much-altered form. The Arenex is presently being replaced after falling to a heavy snowfall.

This type of historical study is interesting because it allows for a detailed review of a particular area that changes dramatically over the years and decades. The preceding examples are good, but there are others as well, including the larger high school sites in town, the soon-to-change McBride School - which will see a third school structure on its location - and many different aspects and projects all along the city’s waterfront. 


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