Expected to be installed at Westminster Pier Park by summer
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
New Westminster residents can look forward to a brand new urban beach later this summer. The beach will be installed at Westminster Pier Park, where patrons will be able to relax in the sand—minus the water. Inspired by urban beaches in Paris and Toronto, the beach will sit separated from the river below.
“What’s being proposed for this site is fairly modest,” says New Westminster’s director of parks, culture, and recreation Dean Gibson. “The plan also incorporates permanent umbrellas that are there to provide some shade… then we’ll likely have rocks and logs and those sorts of things… you might typically have at a beach front setting. So you have something to prop yourself up against when you’re sitting in the sand.”
While Gibson stated that no one person could take credit for the urban beach plan, the idea has been rooted for well over the past year. “[Throughout] late 2012/[early] 2013, the city held a series of different public consultation sessions where we wanted to start brainstorming about… temporary or interim uses for that portion of Westminster Pier Park that we call the Timber Wharf. There seemed to be some popularity around the notion of having something like a beach, and some of our council members were excited about that. [It’s] great because I think it’ll be something different for New Westminster, particularly since we have very little beachfront in the city.”
The urban beach is currently in the design phase, which Gibson adds that when completed, the beach will immediately go into construction. “We have an opportunity coming up with the summer months, and so our goal is for July [or] August to have… that beach installed and operable.”
Gibson compared the general outline of the beach to that of the volleyball courts added to Westminster Pier Park last September. “While [the beach] won’t necessarily be the same configuration… the overall area of the beach would not be significantly smaller than the total area that we have of those two courts. So likely what we’re going to see is something that’s spread out along the [front] of the site.”
Gibson went on to explain that the beach will be setup within a “timber frame retaining wall” and filled with a filtered sand that will “probably be somewhere between eight and 16 inches” deep. “This [sand is] super clean and brushes off easily, and it’s specifically designed for volleyball courts.” Included as part of the retaining wall will be a drainage system for rain to escape, preserving the sand’s condition.
“In addition to the beach, there are other things that will be going [into] that whole area,” says Gibson. “Some pathways, there’s intended to be landscaping… that’ll [have] trees in large planters, benches, picnic tables, serving as places for people to sit and gather or sit and rest. We’re also intending on introducing… a group fitness area. One of the things that we learned… last summer, because we had several different programs down at the site, is that there was a significant interest in having organized group fitness classes. So they were making the best that they could out of some of the newer areas [with an] all-concrete surface. So we’re thinking at the Timber Warf, we might be able to introduce a designated group fitness area that a) has some shade and b) has a… resilient rubber surface, which is typical to what you might find on a running track or in some playgrounds.”
Gibson ended off stating that the city recognizes the increasing number of young adults both moving into and/or attending schools in New Westminster such as Douglas College. Due to the changing demographic, more park and event areas are intended for the city, which Gibson said, “I think helps to make our community a more complete place in which to live, work, and play.”