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New Westminster: Future Forward


BCBusiness City of New Westminster

Credit: City of New Westminster

New Westminster has deep roots in the Lower Mainland. Metro Vancouver grew up around the 15 square kilometres New Westminster occupies, as evidenced by its heritage downtown commercial district.

“New Westminster is a compact community with approximately 80,000 residents, but it is robust in history,” says Blair Fryer, economic development and communications manager for the City of New Westminster. “This brings lots of authenticity to our commercial areas and community.”

New Westminster’s economic development plan has a Future Forward focus, which means that as the community grows, it will continue proactive efforts to positively shape and nurture a resilient and sustainable local economy.

“Business retention and recruitment efforts are focused on key sectors, including education, healthcare, and technology and creative, because these are sectors that New Westminster is ideal for,” Fryer says. “We do that because those are resilient industries. They tend to pay good, family-supporting wages, which people can then use to contribute to the circular economy.”

Resilience has been a defining community feature for decades, but that reputation was underscored when it really mattered—at the outset of the pandemic—because of the deep and meaningful work the City does around collaboration with stakeholders.

“On the second day an emergency was declared, we had already struck a series of working groups to focus efforts on key areas that would need support,” Fryer says. “Our Covid-19 Business and Local Economy working group involved key business and non-profit stakeholders, and met regularly to develop a response that would mitigate some of the strains being placed on local business wherever possible. This really demonstrates how, when we work together, we can weather anything.”

Another key area of economic development is live-work balance, which includes mobility and accessibility for business travel and abundant recreational green space.

New Westminster boasts five SkyTrain stations, as well as proximity to YVR, major highways and rail.

“If you work in downtown Vancouver or in Langley your commute is a short one,” Fryer says. “You can return home at the end of the day quicker and with time to spare for engaging in shopping, restaurants and entertainment.”

On the weekends, visitors and residents can visit the historic Queen’s Park, which was established in the community’s infancy, or the award-winning Westminster Pier Park and Esplanade for a stunning vista of the mighty Fraser River while enjoying public art and the shops and services located at the River Market.

As New Westminster continues to grow and make a name for itself in the shadow of surrounding communities like Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, its action-focused leadership remains agile with a finger on the pulse of what comes next.

“We are always looking toward the future, whether through a climate lens or when we look at technology and innovation powering the future,” Fryer says.

New Westminster’s City Council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and set forward a 2020 Climate Action Budgeting Framework and seven bold steps to mitigation that are moving New Westminster toward a zero carbon future by 2050.  

In 2016, New Westminster started installing BridgeNet, a dark fibre network, in response to growing demand for connected commercial areas and the need for strong access to lightening fast internet.

“We are not just dreaming about the future,” Fryer says. “We are putting the right elements into place when it comes to attracting and empowering creative and technology sectors and new business.  

“New Westminster’s resilience through thick and thin is a testament to our community’s collaborative spirit.”

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Created by BCBusiness in partnership with City of New Westminster