History and sustainability unite for bright future in Westminster Pier Park
For the first time in history, New Westminster is celebrating access to their riverfront which historically was heavy industrial. The new park directly accesses the downtown, revitalising both the urban core and the waterfront. With three awards for environmental excellence already under its belt, Westminster Pier Park, a 3.84-hectare park situated along the Fraser River on a derelict industrial brownfield site, opened to the public in June 2012.
The removal of 3,600 tonnes of contaminated soil and the use of piers instead of fill in the river contributed to the restoration of the site's damaged ecology. A variety of new habitats have been introduced to provide biodiversity for the riparian foreshore and river ecology with the goal of increasing fish and wildlife habitat. The urban park on the edge of a working river is built from robust, easy to maintain, man-made and natural materials that can be recycled at the end of its 75-year life span, a vital goal of the City of New Westminster.
With sustainability as an integral part of the park development, the design is not only sensitive to the site's current ecological needs but also to its future environmental impact. 'Place-making' was another key component of making the park socially sustainable. Achieving this called for innovation and creativity in design and programming of the park, as well as connections to the urban core and to the Fraser River. Park spaces include festival lawns, gathering areas, playgrounds and sports activity areas.
The character of the park reflects the historic industrial waterfront by incorporating long piers, heavy timber structures, timber piles, and timber and metal furnishings. Integrated into the boardwalk is a metal memory band that runs the length of the park, and includes words that reflect the history of New Westminster. These coupled with hinge loungers, that can be tipped to face the river or the park and inspired by the hand trucks once used on the industrial site, pay homage to the history of the area.
Overall, Westminster Pier Park provides a place for people to gather and recreate, enjoy nature, learn about the historic importance of the city, and heals the river environment for future generations.