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Massey Victory Heights Residents Association in the News

Calming traffic in Massey Victory Heights
New Westminster Record
July 26, 2013
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Calming traffic in Massey Victory Heights


Street savvy: Manon Boyle has been helping kids cross the street to F.W. Howay Elementary School for 11 years. Below, a map of the city's 11 neighbourhoods, including Massey Victory Heights (number 5).   Photograph By Larry Wright

Manon Boyle, a crossing guard at F.W. Howay Elementary School, has been helping a stream of kids, parents, strollers and dogs get across the street on their way to and from school for the past 11 years.

Boyle loves her job at the corner of Cumberland Street and Rickman Place, and the kids seem to love her, too, calling her "M" and always offering a friendly greeting to her and her little cockapoo, Daisy, who patiently waits while Boyle does her job.

She says she's gotten to know the Massey Victory Heights neighbourhood "to a tee" and knows the residents' schedules like clockwork. Every morning, one elderly gentleman takes a daily walk at the same time, and she knows when some drivers are late for work as she sees them drive the same route every day.

"If people are late, I just look at my watch, and they go, 'I know, I'm late,'" she says, laughing.

From her perspective, Boyle says not much has changed in the neighbourhood since she started at her post as crossing guard - except for the traffic. Boyle said she's seen a "huge" increase in traffic in the last decade on Cumberland Street, and she still sees people talking on their cellphones.

"Most of the speeders are women," she says. "They're supermoms getting from A to B."

Jason Lesage, president of the Massey Victory Heights Residents' Association, said "rat runners" are only a mild concern in the quieter streets of the neighbourhood, and, even then, they're not as much a concern as in other areas of New Westminster. "I give credit to the city of New Westminster," he said. "They've done a good job in implementing traffic-calming procedures."

Jim Lowrie, director of engineering for the city of New Westminster, confirmed the city established several traffic-calming elements in the late 1990s, including blocking off streets and restricting left turns from arterial routes, and he noted that within the last five years, the city has taken steps to improve pedestrian crosswalks on Eighth and Tenth avenues.

Today, the city is considering further traffic restrictions in the area, such as banning commercial trucks from using Eighth Avenue.

"It's something that we're very much aware of and on the livability of the neighbourhood," he said.

For Boyle, she says she'll continue in her position as crossing guard for as long as she can because it's important to the people who have come to be like family to her.

"I love all the people around there," she says. "I love all my parents, I love all my kids. I can't wait to see how much they've grown over the summer and make a big deal about it. I give them all goody bags at the end of the year. They're very kind, and they're my peeps.

© 2015 New West Record

Memories of days gone by in Massey Victory Heights
New Westminster Record
July 26, 2013
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Memories of days gone by in Massey Victory Heights


Street scene: Houses on a street in Victory Heights, circa 1959, were built on lots offered first to returning veterans at 30 per cent of their assessed value at the end of the Second World War in 1945.   Photograph By Photo courtesy of the New Westminster Museum and Archives

The Second World War ended in May 1945, and everywhere across North America people could be seen flashing the V for victory sign on the streets that summer.

Here in New Westminster, a new residential neighbourhood was in the works for those returning from battle overseas. The new area in the northernmost part of town was to be known, most appropriately, as Victory Heights.

What had been a vast rural area with a goat farm, pumpkin patch on both sides of Columbia Street, and a single homestead with livestock, bordered by bush and timber, quickly became the most modern and coveted land for veterans as well as civilians. The City of New Westminster opened the sale of the lots on Oct. 1 of that year, for a period of 30 days, exclusively for returning veterans at a sale price of 30 per cent of the assessed land value. After that, regular citizens were able to purchase lots for 75 per cent of the assessed land value for another 30 day period.

One resident recalls her parents waiting in line for several days at city hall to buy a lot for less than $1,000. Donnabelle Olenick recalls living for 17 years in the house her father built himself in 1951 and where he and her mother lived until 1985.

"We were aware of the excitement of our parents as the land in Victory Heights was going on the market," she wrote in an anecdote for a Royal City history collection.

The only caveat for buying the lots was that the land had to be used immediately for the purpose of building new homes. The rule needn't have been applied, however, since the desire for a modern home in a new neighbourhood was widespread in the Royal City.

"The war is over, people are looking at moving ahead, there's money, you can now drive your car because you can get gasoline," noted local historian Archie Miller. "I mean, there's just so many things happening after the war that there's an excitement about being able to get property that's never been built on."

By 1953, development had begun on the Massey Heights section, named after the Governor General, Vincent Massey, and 32 of 46 lots were sold in this section within one month between William Street and McBride Boulevard, according to Miller.

The original boundary plans for Victory Heights were between Tenth Avenue to the north, Eighth Avenue to the south, Richmond Street at the east, and First Street to the west.

Today, however, the boundaries for both Victory and Massey Heights, collectively known simply as the Heights, are considered to be between Tenth and Eighth and between East Columbia Street and McBride Boulevard, with William Street being the division between the two areas.

As it was in the midcentury, the entire Heights neighbourhood is still considered by local residents to be an oasis within the city.

While the bordering roadways are busy traffic routes, the quiet residential streets between them make for a safe and quiet place to live, which is much the same as it's been since the neighbourhood was first established, according to Jason Lesage, the current president of the neighbourhood residents' association.

"All of the borders are all very busy thoroughfares and it seems to have become a part of life in New Westminster, and it seems to be increasing, to everyone's discontent," he said. "So this neighbourhood is kind of like an oasis of tranquility amongst that circle of heavy-volume traffic at times."

In keeping with the family-friendly aspect of the neighbourhood, every year, the association hosts a neighbourhood-wide garage sale, and every September, a family fun day block party for all local residents.

The fall event includes clowns, face painting, balloons and activities for kids, as well as a barbecue and community participation from the police and fire department with trucks and personnel on hand to give demonstrations.

Massey Victory Heights seems to have retained its 1950s charm, Lesage noted, with houses that have remained largely untouched since the area was first established - it's even possible to find a few of the original street lamps in the neighbourhood - and still holds a mix of all ages living in the single-family subdivision.

"I think every neighbourhood needs a good mix of retired people and single people and families, and we certainly have that here in Massey Heights," Lesage noted.

© 2015 New West Record

New Pattullo public pitch coming
New Westminster News Leader
April 16, 2013
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New Pattullo public pitch coming


Four lanes, six lanes, a new location and scrapping the Pattullo Bridge completely could be on the table among the options being floated by TransLink.   Photo NewsLeader file photo

The reset button is about to be hit on Pattullo Bridge public consultation, although it won't be pushed until after the May 14 provincial election.

That's when TransLink and the cities of Surrey and New Westminster will be taking a list of options to the public on what to do with the deteriorating 75-year-old structure.

TransLink's board chair Nancy Olewiler said last week the organizations will work together to try to find a mutually agreeable configuration of a new bridge, which New West residents fear will increase local traffic.

Olewiler told Black Press the province also needs to be part of the Pattullo discussion to deal with routing of trucks and connections to provincial highways like the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Highway 1.

Those talks with government will have to wait until after the election, she said, but added it's important to "make sure the big picture is looked at and this isn't just our little bridge in the middle of it."

New Westminster Coun. Jonathan Coté, co-chair of the city's master transportation plan committee, said it's good TransLink is willing to look at other options besides the six-lane ones it proposed a year ago.

"I wouldn't say we're back to square one but I would say we've definitely taken a step backward from the consultation we had a year ago," said Coté.

He believes the starting point for discussion of options will be the ones, including two from TransLink, the city presented in its own open house in May 2012. The others presented were: demolishing the bridge and not replacing it; rehabilitating it at a cost of about $200 million; building a new four-lane replacement with pedestrian and cycling access for about $650 million; building a replacement over Sapperton Bar which TransLink pegs at $2 billion; and building a replacement that connects Burnaby to Tree Island in East Richmond.

"That's probably the starting point from those general principles and ideas," said Coté, although he admitted there are logistics that make the Tree Island solution not viable.

Since that night when the favoured option was getting rid of the bridge and not replacing it, TransLink has agreed to study alternatives to its six-lane proposals which included dedicating the two outside lanes to truck traffic. Coté said while closing the Pattullo permanently would help to alleviate traffic congestion in New Westminster and will still be on the table during the upcoming consultations, there will be a lot of regional challenges that would make it difficult to carry out.

Coté said while the city remains open to all options, it does want to find one that won't increase the stress on New Westminster's already overloaded road capacity.

Late last year, the two cities got together to start talking about finding a solution.

"The city has made some tremendous progress regarding the Pattullo process this year," said Coté. "I'm pleased with how well TransLink and the City of Surrey have participated in an open and serious dialogue on this issue. New Westminster still needs to have our views heard [but] we're much farther ahead than we were at this point last year,."

Reena Meijer-Drees, president of the New Westminster Environmental Partners, said the community group is happy about seeing more options come to the public.

"They've really blown the doors off what TransLink's original proposal was. It's going to be a complete rethink. That's a positive step," said Meijer-Drees. "I don't think New Westminster will get everything we want but it certainly is a more positive dialogue than before. We're being heard now, and that's positive."

Personally, because she doesn't own a car and the crossing is not a high priority to her, she'd be happy if the bridge was closed permanently, but she doesn't expect that to happen.

"We are cautiously optimistic, but we're also realistic that we do have to accommodate Surrey traffic," she said. "The problem is going to be the funding. There's no money and that might become a little clearer after the election. The only option they had before was to toll it and at least get some revenue from it, and that's why they wanted to get a six-laner in there."

The Pattullo was a big topic of discussion at last Thursday's monthly Massey Heights-Victory Heights Residents Association meeting. While many called for tolls to be put on the Pattullo, there was a larger consensus of support for banning trucks on the bridge.

"We have not finalized a position on whether we support a toll or don't support a toll," said association president Jason Lesage. "There is much more support for possibly banning trucks instead of putting a toll on the bridge."

- With file from Jeff Nagel

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015

Letter-to-the-Editor: City actively consulting with residents on East Eighth Avenue changes
New Westminster News Leader
April 16 2013
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City actively consulting with residents on East Eighth Avenue changes

Re: Already have a tunnel, new signal not needed (Letters, NewsLeader, April 17)

I would like to thank Jason Lesage and the Massey-Victory Heights Residents Association for the feedback on the proposed changes to improve pedestrian safety on East Eighth Avenue.

Last fall, to inform residents of public consultation on proposed safety improvements along East Eighth Avenue, the city mailed 326 letters to households and placed multiple notices in Citypage and Citypage online as well as on the city's website, Twitter and Facebook page. In addition, both the Massey-Victory Heights and McBride Sapperton Residents' Associations were notified by email and were of great assistance in helping us get the message out. These efforts resulted in over 150 residents attending an Oct. 25, 2012 open house at McBride elementary and 93 survey responses received to guide the city moving forward. To date, important crossing improvements on this busy corridor have already been completed at both the Buchanan and William/McKay street intersections.

In keeping with the feedback generated during the consultation process, a number of changes have been proposed at East Eighth and Cherry/Sherbrooke/Devoy Streets and at East Eighth and Richmond Street that were supported by a majority of survey respondents. These were outlined in the report presented to council on April 8 which is available on the city website at Following discussion of this report, council instructed staff to further consult with the city's Neighbourhood Traffic Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee for Transit, Bicycles and Pedestrians and both the Massey-Victory Heights and McBride-Sapperton residents' associations on this issue and this is now underway. The city looks forward to continued dialogue on safety improvements on East Eighth Avenue and working together with the community towards solutions.

Jerry Behl, Transportation Engineer

City of New Westminster© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015

Letter-to-the-editor: Tunnel crossing already at Eighth Avenue and Richmond
New Westminster News Leader
April 15, 2013
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Tunnel crossing already at Eighth Avenue and Richmond

Re: Changes to East Eighth to improve safety: city (NewsLeader, April 10)

The article outlined the city's plans for altering two intersections on East Eighth Avenue. One of those intersections is Eighth Avenue and Richmond Street, which I live one block from.

I have two concerns about the proposed changes at this intersection. First, building pedestrian/cyclist-controlled signals is unnecessary because there is already a safe method for crossing Eighth Avenue at Richmond Street: a tunnel. However, this tunnel is poorly lit and in disrepair. For a lot less money, the city could "spruce" it up and make it much more inviting for residents to use. I use it several times per week, and it definitely needs fixing up.

Second, adding signals at Eighth Avenue and Richmond Street would further congest Eighth Avenue. As someone who uses transit and drives along East Eighth Avenue, I do not want more vehicles travelling at a snail's pace and idling more. This will result in more cars darting through the neighbourhood streets in Massey Heights. Residents in my neighbourhood do not want that.

Lastly, I have concern about the way the city is managing this project.

I have spoken to some residents who live near the intersection of Eighth and Richmond, and no one was aware the city was close to coming to a decision on this project. They need to better engage residents if important changes will be occurring in our neighbourhood. Has no one considered dropping a flyer in our mailboxes asking for feedback? That's community relations 101.

Jason Lesage
Massey Victory Heights Residents' Association

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015

City eyes upgrades to East Eighth Avenue for pedestrian safety
New Westminster News Leader
April 5, 2013
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City eyes upgrades to East Eighth Avenue for pedestrian safety


Above are proposed changes indicated in red. The city says the narrowing of East Eighth at this point will slow traffic and shutting off Devoy and Sherbrooke from East Eighth will make the intersection less confusing.   Photo City of New Westminster staff report

Significant improvements could be coming to two intersections along East Eighth Avenue in order to make them safer for pedestrians to cross.

East Eighth Avenue has long been the subject of concerns among residents over pedestrian safety, particularly because many children must cross the busy street to get to and from school.

Last fall the city hosted an open house to discuss potential improvements, and now city staff is recommending changes to the five-way intersection where Cherry, Devoy and Sherbrooke all meet Eighth Avenue, and also to the intersection of Richmond Street and Eighth.

The five-way intersection would effectively be cut to a three-way by creating a barrier to close off vehicle access between Eighth Avenue and Sherbrooke and Devoy.

This, combined with corner bulges where Cherry Street meets Eighth Avenue would reduce "confusion caused by a five-legged intersection," states a staff report, and would reduce vehicle speed while also shortening the distance of the crosswalk.

At the Richmond Street intersection, staff has proposed pedestrian and cyclist controlled signals, while at the same time recommending the city "retain and monitor the use of the existing pedestrian underpass" at that corner.

At the open house last October, about 53 per cent of the 90 people who responded to a questionnaire were supportive of the proposed improvements.

Among concerns raised was the possibility that introducing changes at the two intersections could lead to more traffic being funnelled down Richmond Street into the neighbourhood.

Staff concluded that the increase would only be a handful of cars at peak times, and that "the overall safety improvements would be more beneficial."

The upgrades to the intersections are estimated to cost $250,000 and could be completed as part of this year's capital budget, the report stated.

The city has also recently added overhead lighting and signage improvements at East Eighth Avenue and Buchanan Avenue, and also installed overhead illuminated signs at the intersection of East Eighth at William and McKay streets.

City council is scheduled to review the staff report on this subject at its Monday, April 8 meeting.

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015

Massey residents choose new president
New Westminster Record
February 13, 2013
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Massey residents choose new president

The Massey Victory Heights Residents' Association has elected a new board of directors.

At its recent annual general meeting, the association elected its new board: Jason Lesage - president; Dennis Paulley - past president; Ian Brady - vice president; Larry Hill - treasurer; Donna Fraser, Paul Johansen, Bob Jones and Terry Tomcko - directors.

The position of secretary is currently unfilled.

Lesage said he is looking forward to the coming year as head of the association.

"I'm very proud of my neighbourhood," he said. "I'm looking forward to engaging more with the residents and advocating some of the issues and concerns they may have."

Lesage said although the Massey/Victory Heights neighbourhood - which runs from McBride Boulevard east to East Columbia Street and from Eight Avenue north to 10th Avenue - is mostly a "sleepy neighbourhood," one of the issues residents' do have to deal with is traffic and sidewalks.

The corner of McBride and Eighth is a busy area because of the Pattullo Bridge, and the underground pedestrian tunnel that crosses underneath Eighth Avenue at Richmond Street is in need of an upgrade, he noted.

"It's very poorly maintained," he said. "The lighting in there is awful, it's very dirty and grimy."

Lesage said many families and parents use the underpass to take their children to the nearby elementary school, and he plans to talk to the association about taking on the tunnel as a beautification project with the support of city council.

He also hopes to advocate for changes to city sidewalks to allow for more let-downs for wheelchair users and cyclists.

Besides advocacy, the association is also planning for its two annual events - the community garage sale in May, and the family picnic day in September - pending confirmation from sponsors and board members.

The garage sale usually attracts at least 200 people, and the family picnic is especially popular with local kids who enjoy the police and fire department demonstrations, he said.

"It's just a chance for the neighbours to come out and say 'hi,'" he said of the event.

Residents of the Massey/Victory Heights neighbourhood are welcome to attend the association's next meeting, which will be held at Mount Zion Lutheran Church (at the corner of 10th Avenue and Cumberland Street) on Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m.

© 2015 New West Record

Lesage to head MVHRA in 2013
New Westminster News Leader
February 4, 2013
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Lesage to head MVHRA in 2013

Jason Lesage is the new president of the Massey-Victory Heights Residents Association.

He was elected to replace past president Dennis Paulley at the group's annual general meeting. Ian Brady will be the vice-president and Larry Hill the treasurer with directors at large Donna Fraser, Paul Johansen, Bob Jones and Terry Tomcko.

Although Lesage was born in New Westminster, he grew up in Burnaby just across 10th Avenue from the neighbourhood he now lives in. The association's next meeting will be at Mount Zion Lutheran Church on Thursday, March 28.

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015