New Westminster mayor Jonathan Cote hopes to connect more neighbourhoods to downtown waterfront
New Westminster has a grand plan to make its Fraser River waterfront more accessible for walkers and cyclists.
A few months ago, the city opened a pedestrian bridge connecting Westminster Pier Park to Columbia Street at 4th Street.
The next step is demolishing 40 percent of the massive Front Street Parkade.
"It's all part of a larger waterfront strategy for New Westminster," Mayor Jonathan Cote told the Georgia Straight in a recent interview as he overlooked the parkade. "We want to connect our waterfront to our neighbourhoods."
Once the western portion of the parkade is removed, the city plans to create "Front Street Mews". It will include new street-parking stalls, a wider sidewalk, and landscaping.
According to Cote, the broader goal is to make it easier to walk or cycle from Sapperton northeast of the downtown to Westminster Pier Park, which opened on the waterfront in 2012. And from there, it could become possible to walk or cycle safely all the way to Queensborough, which is a neighbourhood southwest of downtown on Lulu Island.
Queensborough is the centre of the city's historic Sikh community. In recent years, it has become a significant shopping destination.
"We're working on a Q2Q pedestrian bridge to link the quay at the waterfront to Queensborough," Cote said. "And we're also working to connect Sapperton Landing, which is another riverfront park, to Westminster Pier Park. If we can connect our city along the waterfront and connect our waterfront with our neighbourhoods, I think we're going to have something very special out here."
The city would prefer the Q2Q to be a bascule bridge (i.e. a drawbridge), which is estimated to cost $10.5 million. It would be built beside the rail track connecting the north side of the Fraser River with Queensborough.
One of the benefits of the project is that it will reduce traffic congestion in a city that already has nearly half a million vehicles passing through it every week day.
In a report to council in February, engineering-services director Jim Lowrie stated that discussions "are ongoing" with Southern Railway of B.C. to operate the pedestrian and cycling bridge. It's expected to be completed in 2017.
He noted that $6.2 million is "expected to be available" from development-assistance compensation funds from the casino in Queensborough. This means another $4 million to $4.5 million would have to be generated through fundraising, grants, or a capital program.
A City of New Westminster brochure says that the Q2Q bridge will give downtown New Westminster residents and tourists better access to riverfront trails in Queensborough.
"From a regional transportation perspective," the brochure notes, "the bridge will link greenways on the north and south side of the Fraser River and the New Westminster SkyTrain Station to Queensborough. It will also provide enhanced access along the scenic Fraser River and complete a key missing link in the Experience the Fraser trail system running from Hope to the Salish Sea."
Jun 7, 2015 at 2:25pm
Not sure how this plan would reduce traffic congestion. But it sounds good, so naturally the politicians embrace it.
Jun 7, 2015 at 3:04pm
This is what New Westminster has needed for decades! Bravo!
Jun 7, 2015 at 3:36pm
This is sound good- bul- cookies meant to eliminate the easy parking that is soooooo hard to find. Developers have reached you have they? You're making the same mistake Toronto did in the 1960's.
Jun 7, 2015 at 3:41pm
It sounds like trucks using Front Street is coming to an end. What about the truck traffic that accesses Highway 1? So much for Big Picture thinking. Mr. Mayor there are economic and regional considerations to be considered here.
Jun 7, 2015 at 8:44pm
Nice icing, Mr. Mayor.
Now, how about a cake?
Jun 7, 2015 at 10:39pm
That map of New West is weird, where is Quayside?
Jun 8, 2015 at 9:04am
The biggest problem facing cyclists in New West is that fact that most of the neighbourhoods are on the side of a steep hill. In order to climb from the waterfront to a destination such as Moody Park you need to be very fit. East or west on the waterfront is one thing, but north to south is a different matter. Vancouver also has many hills, but most have easy grades or can be circumvented. No so in New Westminster.
Jun 8, 2015 at 5:35pm
I grew up in Queensboro and this discussion has been in the books for about 30 YEARS!!!!!!! It's not a new idea and if build 30 YEARS AGO with the original plans for Queensboro development the city could have been reaping the benefits for the LAST 3 DECADES!!!
Sep 11, 2015 at 5:30am
The bridge is not only a necessity but also a commitment made by the city (queensborough casino funding) and something owed to the citizens on Queensborough (by City Hall). Put LEDs lights on the bascule and make it pretty - look at cities like London or Paris and the impact that pedestrian bridges have on the cities economies. New West has a lot to offer as a residential destination but also as a tourist/recreational/shopping destination that is sustainable and creates and "taxes" for the city. https://www.google.com/search?q=pedestrian+bridges+london&safe=off&espv=...