Royal City residents are interested in playing, gathering and relaxing at Westminster Pier Park.
The City of New Westminster has been consulting with the community about interim uses for the Timber Wharf section of the new waterfront park, which won't be fully developed until new infrastructure is built under that part of the park. The Timber Wharf sits on its original pilings and was paved as part of the park construction.
Coun. Jonathan Cote said he's had a number of people ask, "What is that black space" and question what it's going to be used for. He believes "flexibility is key" when determining what the site will be used for.
Jennifer Wilson, the city's assistant director of parks, culture and recreation, recently told council that the city received "great information" from the community during the Pier Into the Future consultation process. The main themes that emerged during the consultation process were that people wanted the Timber Wharf to include: places for group sports or activities; activities, amenities or equipment related to physical fitness; social gathering spaces; and places to relax and reflect.
The City of New Westminster purchased the waterfront site for $8 million in 2009 and built the $25.1 million park using $16.6 million from the federal and provincial governments and $8.3 million in city funds.
The large paved surface that's located next to the grassy area known as the "festive lawn" has been dubbed the Timber Wharf because it still stands on timber pilings. New pilings were installed in other sections of the park to update the infrastructure, but the pilings in this area will be upgraded in a future phase of the park.
Dean Gibson, the city's director of parks culture and recreation, told The Record earlier this year that temporary uses for this site have to consider the infrastructure below.
"Anything we would have to do would have to sit on the deck and be built up from it," he said during a tour of the site in April. "We do have considerations as to the age of this structure itself and what it is like from a structural viewpoint. We have to keep in mind safety considerations as well what we put on the space."
According to the Nov. 13 staff report, the city received 286 completed surveys about the type of programming people would like to see in this section of the park.
Group sports and activities suggested for the Timber Wharf included an outdoor games area, a versatile sport court area, a large open flex space, fishing dock/pier/moorage/barge, and a versatile sport box area to support seasonal activities.
In regards to physical fitness, the top priorities identified by residents included an obstacle course, a fitness circuit, a fitness loop (bike or running), outdoor courts, and outdoor fitness programs.
"Can you imagine yoga on the waterfront?" Wilson asked council. "Pretty spectacular."
Social gathering spaces also factored high in respondents' suggestions for the Timber Wharf, with a night market, festivals celebrating food, culture and sports, outdoor movie/ theatre, interactive public art, beach/picnic tables and concerts among the ideas proposed.
Some people would like the city to consider more passive offerings where residents could reflect and relax. Ideas include spaces protected from the weather (both rain and shine), seated areas to watch activities, creating white noise with water, totem pole carving on site, a covered area where artists can paint, and teaching opportunities.
Other suggestions for the Timber Wharf included: community gardens; interactive art, chalk drawings, murals, LED displays, rock piling etc; and active and unique offerings such as a zipline, a bungee and a carousel.
Staff has proposed a timeline that would enable interim uses to be available for the spring/summer of 2013. The first step is to commission a structural assessment of the Timber Wharf. Once that's complete, the city would retain a park designer to design three options for the park.
Council is expected to identify the preferred option in February 2013 and the city would host an open house to get feedback on that proposal in March.
According to the staff report, construction of interim uses would begin in April 2013. The report states that interim uses - possibly on a phased schedule - would be done in June or July 2013, and future phases would be done in 2013 and 2014, if required.
The City of New Westminster has included $150,000 in the 2012 financial plan for interim development of the timber wharf.