Known as the “Royal City”, New Westminster is a City with a proud history, rich with community spirit and culture. Set along the banks of the Fraser River, and nestled between Burnaby and Coquitlam, New Westminster is centrally located in the Lower Mainland, providing easy access to the surrounding municipalities.
Founded in 1859, this small, but prosperous young community became British Columbia’s capital, and rivaled Vancouver as the premier city in the Lower Mainland. As time passed New Westminster stayed quite small (it covers only about 16 km squared), but the City evolved and kept with it a strong sense of unique identity.
Queens park home photo, New Westminster BC
Part of this unique identity is captured in the City’s Hyack Festival, as well as its May Day celebration, which has been running for 140 years. This Commonwealth celebration reflects the city’s regal heritage, with participants electing a May Queen and Royal Knights. Certainly, the old Victorian era houses in New Westminster reflect this heritage as well. These old, prestigious houses dot the Queens Park area, and commonly serve as backdrops to television shows and movies.
Indeed the population of New Westminster demonstrates this distinguished maturity as well; with an average of approximately 41, the City contains a thriving senior community.
However, New Westminster isn’t all about focusing on the past – young businesses and developers are actively changing the face of this small City.
Columbia Street, a commercial thoroughfare that lost business after the opening of Highway 1, began to be revitalized in 2008, and now houses numerous hip shops and restaurants. Nearby, the once vibrant Westminster Market at the Quay unfortunately has been closed down for renovations, making one of New Westminster’s famed attractions unavailable until Fall 2010.
New West Quay Boardwalk Photo, New Westminster BC
Despite this, significant real estate development over the past two decades has seen a sharp rise in the number of townhouses and apartment buildings all throughout the communities of Sapperton, Queensborough, and the West End.
If you’re curious about buying a home in New West, the price can vary significantly from one neighbourhood to the next. Still, unlike Vancouver where the price of a detached home is out of reach for most families. New West offers very good value for those searching for a high quality of life within a reasonable commute to its surrounding cities. You can learn about real estate in New West in the New West Real Estate guide.
New Westminster also serves as a very active transportation hub. The urban rapid transit system called the Skytrain provides an impressive five stops in this small City. Additionally, four railways crisscross the area, and a passenger bridge transports commuters to the City of Surrey across the Fraser River. Although there are no highways directly in New Westminster, Highway 1 is easily accessible by a short drive through Burnaby.
Unfortunately two of New Westminster’s notable and impressive theatres – the Raymond Burr Theatre and the Massey Theatre – are in danger of being torn down, but the City’s art culture still resonates in the Douglas College Campus, home to thousands of post-secondary and adult students. Another educational facility in the municipality is the Justice Institute of British Columbia, which trains professionals in the justice, public safety and social service fields.
While this very hilly City may not be very desirable for bikers, it does provide for fantastic vistas of the surrounding area. Massy Heights especially provides a beautiful view of the Coast Mountains. Forty-eight lush parks also dot the City, including the picturesque Friendship gardens and the 75 acre Queen’s Park.
Suitable for young families, seniors, and those looking for a central, yet reasonably affordable place to live, New Westminster provides a wonderful community spirit with a strong sense of heritage to those who live there.
Learn more about New Westminster by clicking links below: