New West Front Street closure

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Bad conditions met with demolition decision

By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter

For pedestrians, walking along New Westminster’s Front Street can be hectic. With large commercial vehicles heading in both directions under an elevated parking lot, there isn’t much room for safety. To this end, the City of New Westminster is going forward with tearing down the west end of the lot along the busy road.

This controversial decision has been in the works for almost three years, as the notion of taking down a section of the parkade brought angry residents to city hall. The generally empty lot, even during peak times, has been called an eye-sore by many. Yet others appreciate its priceless waterfront views.

Mayor Jonathan Cote said to the New Westminster Record that he respects people’s opinions, but he’s always viewed the parkade as a barrier that separates the downtown from the waterfront.

“There is no doubt that moving forward with the partial deconstruction of the parkade is going to cost public money to move forward with that, but I think the reality is the lifecycle cost of maintaining the parkade is going to be greater.”

With the go-ahead on construction, which will take place between February and July, many problems are expected to arise. First and foremost is traffic.

“There may be disruption to normal traffic volume while Front Street is closed, but we are asking for everyone’s patience while the construction is underway,” stated Media Relations Officer Acting Sergeant Jeff Scott on the NWPD website.

From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., eastbound truck traffic will be allowed on Royal Avenue and westbound traffic open on Columbia Street. In the night, 10th Avenue will permit trucks to head in both directions.

Additional concerns are noise pollution and decreased foot traffic for Front Street business owners.

Luckily, “there will still be access down to the local road, and definitely pedestrian access so people will be able to access the businesses there,” Cote told the Record.

“The city has been working on putting up signage on Columbia Street letting people know. We are doing everything we can to make sure the public is aware that Front Street is still going to be open for business as a commercial street.”

Within the next five months, expect big changes to take place to one of New West’s busiest streets. The city plans to redesign the available space into a “mews” that includes vibrant businesses, wider sidewalks, street furniture, lighting, trees, and angled parking, thus opening the downtown core to the waterfront.