Getting to Know New Westminster, British Columbia
New Westminster is one of 3 satellite cities around Vancouver that make up the ‘Tri-Cities’ area, along with Burnaby and Coquitlam. It’s also noteworthy as being the first capital of B.C., back in the mid-19th century when the Province was the Colony of British Columbia. It was then that Colonel Richard Clement Moody chose New Westminster as the ideal spot to build a capital city for what was to be an important part of the burgeoning British empire.
The city is nicely located on the banks of the Fraser River and pretty much in the exact centre of the Greater Vancouver Region. Directly across the river is Surrey, and to the North and East of New Westminster are Burnaby and Coquitlam. New Westminster is predominantly a residential area, and the city grid has not changed much since the streets and roadways of it were designed to accommodate horse-drawn carts and buggies. The city is also home to many heritage homes that were built well over 100 years ago.
New Westminster weather is much like the rest of the Lower Mainland; warmer average temperatures in winter and cooler in summer, plus more precipitation / rainfall than you’d find elsewhere in the Province too. There’s no debate that summer weather in the Lower Mainland is arguably the best in all of Canada
The Tri-Cities area, including New Westminster, is very well served by public transportation. The host of different bus routes that serve every corner of the city with regular bus service are joined by Skytrain’s Millennium and Expo lines that connects New West with downtown Vancouver to the West and Surrey to the South. New Westminster is not considered to be a good place for commuting or other types of travel with a motor vehicle, as the aforementioned dated city grid is not conducive to the efficient movement of motor vehicles.
New Westminster also contains a portion of Vancouver’s Central Valley Greenway network – a dedicated paved cycling pathway that allows cyclists to ride all the way from the Fraser River in New West to False Creek in downtown Vancouver.
New Westminster has everything most people would want in a city. In the early days the bulk of businesses and shops of all types were located along the Riverfront on Columbia Street. While ‘New West Row’ as the area is now called is still home to many interesting storefronts of all sorts, the bulk of big box stores like Walmart and grocery stores like Save-On Foods and Safeway are located in the Uptown area, which is based around the intersection at 6th Avenue and Carnarvon Street.
Columbia Square further west at the foot of Stewardson Avenue has many different types of shops and services as well, and there is likely no more distinctive part of New West than Westminster Quay on the far side of Front Street past Columbia Row. It features a long waterfront park area and the Market at the Quay, which offers a market shopping experience that’s popular with locals and visitors alike.
Queen’s Park at the top of New West is the city’s jewel, with 75 acres of heavily wooded grounds that have been enjoyed by New Westminster residents since 1887. Among a host of features found in the park are Queen’s Park Arena, a 2,000-spectator ball stadium, an off-leash dog area, children’s spray park, and outdoor public fitness circuit. There’s also a petting farm open in the summer that’s always a hit with kids.
You can learn a lot about the early history of British Columbia and New Westminster’s central role in it at the Fraser River Discovery Centre. This world-class interpretive centre is found on the New Westminster Quay. Those who’d like to explore the banks of the Fraser River will enjoy the long walk along it at Sapperton Landing Park, just to the east of downtown New West and Front Street. You’ll also see the very first dock built in B.C. to accommodate steamship traffic, and right behind it the very first penitentiary built in B.C. as well.
Moody Park is not far from Queen’s Park, and it’s especially popular in summertime due to it’s outdoor public pool and numerous playing fields. There are plenty of picnic tables in both Queen’s and Moody Park, and if you’re over on the Queensborough side of New West you can take the Quay-to-Quay ferry for just $2 each person and be over at the New West Quay in just over 10 minutes.
Starlight Casino is a popular spot for people who enjoying trying their luck and it’s also in the Queensborough area of New Westminster.
New Westminster has seen stratospheric increases in property values in the same way the entire Tri-Cities area has, and that’s in large part due to people redirecting their home-buying focus eastwards because of well-understood affordability issues in Vancouver. Extensive rezoning for condominium and townhome development is where New Westminster real estate is going these days, and these type of homes on the market are much more affordable in comparison to detached homes.
The recent Victoria Hill development at East Royal Avenue and Ross Drive is a good example of formerly privately-owned grounds acquired by developers to create much-need condos and townhomes for the growing population of New Westminster. Many of these new construction New Westminster homes for sale will feature the best in on-site living amenities and modern building technologies.
New Westminster is a short 30-minute drive from Vancouver along Highway 1, or via North Road and East Columbia off Lougheed Highway (Highway 7). As mentioned above, it is also easily accessible with a number of different city buses or the Skytrain’s Millennium or Expo Lines that pass through 22nd Street, New Westminster, Columbia, Sapperton, and Braid Stations in New Westminster.
The city is accessible from YVR Vancouver International Airport via Skytrain’s Canada Line and transferring to either the Millennium or Expo Lines in downtown Vancouver at Waterfront Station. The 91E Highway (aka the East-West Connector) will quickly move motorists or those travelling in taxis from YVR to New Westminster.