MVHRA Street Capper

Massey Victory Heights Residents Association recognizes and acknowledges the Qayqayt First Nation, as well as all Coast Salish peoples, on whose traditional and unceded territories we live, we learn, we play and we do our work

Massey Victory Heights Residents Association in the News

New West residents' group starts a conversation with candidates
New Westminster Record
September 24, 2014
View on-line article

[NEWS] New West residents' groups starts a conversation with candidates

Jonathan Cote

On the move: New Westminster mayoral candidate Jonathan Cote is using the Cote mobile to draw attention to his bid to become mayor.   Photograph By Contributed

The Massey Victory Heights Residents Association is anticipating a lively discussion at its September meeting.

The residents association has invited all candidates who have declared they’ll be running for office in November’s civic election to attend its Sept. 25 meeting. As of The Record’s press time, the group said mayoral candidates Jonathan Cote and Wayne Wright were set to attend, as was council candidate Patrick Johnstone and school board candidates Jonina Campbell and James Janzen.

Jason Lesage, president of the residents association, said he’s emailed all of the current elected officials to inform them that he’s invited all declared candidates to speak at the meeting. If they declare before Sept. 25, they’re welcome to attend.

“Just for some context, we’re not holding a debate. I’m framing this as a “conversation” with residents,” he wrote in an email to The Record. “Each candidate will say a few words of welcome and their vision for the city (two or three minutes max), and then it’s over to the residents to ask questions. I’m going to moderate to ensure that no one hogs the airtime and that the conversation isn’t just focused on one issue.”

Prior to running for city council, many candidates are involved in their local residents association.

Time to decide

Want to run?

New Westminster voters will be electing one mayor, six councillors and seven school trustees in the Nov. 15 civic election.

The candidate nomination period begins on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. and closes on Friday, Oct. 10 at 4 p.m.

Nomination forms are available on the city’s website or at the reception desk at New Westminster city hall. Anyone who is a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age or older on general voting day, a resident of B.C. for at least six months immediately before the day nomination papers are filed and hasn’t been disqualified from being an elected official or holding office (under the Local Government Act or any other enactment) is qualified to run.

For more information, visit the city’s election website at or call 604-636-4484 or 604-636-4485.

Seeking ideas

Mayoral candidate Jonathan X. Cote is on the hunt for ideas about how to improve the Royal City and on the move around town.

Cote has launched an “Ideas” page on his campaign website as he believes it will provide an opportunity for New West residents to contribute their ideas on how to build a brighter future for New Westminster. He’ll use the feedback to help develop his policy platform.

“I believe strongly in community engagement and I wanted to make sure my campaign provided residents an opportunity to participate in my platform development,” he said.

The page – located on – includes questions that cover a broad range of topics including affordable housing, transportation, the local economy and community facilities.

Along with seeking input from community members, Cote is also urging people to keep an eye out for the Cote Mobile Version 4.0. Cote’s car is sporting a new logo and wrap, which was produced by local company CanWrap.

As part of his bid to be mayor, Cote has launched a social media campaign where residents can “Spot the Cote Mobile” and tag sightings in the community on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with #cotemobile. The Cote campaign is encouraging people to show their support for the Cote campaign by taking a picture of the Cote Mobile and sharing the image on social media.

Do you have an election item for The Record? Send it to

© 2015 New West Record
TransLink rejects New West truck route request
New Westminster News Leader
July 28, 2014
View on-line article

TransLink rejects New West truck route request


Royal Avenue will still be a truck route after the Translink board of directors rejected a request by New Westminster council to ban trucks from Royal, East 8th Avenue and East Columbia Street.   Photo Mario TransLink has thrown a barricade in front of New Westminster's goal to get trucks off some city streets.

The regional transportation authority has rejected the city's request to eliminate truck traffic from Royal and East Eighth avenues, and on East Columbia from Brunette to Braid. TransLink board of directors made the decision after consulting with the cities of Coquitlam, Surrey, Richmond and Burnaby, the B.C. Trucking Association, Port Metro Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council.

In a statement, TransLink said without any alternative routes or additional capacity on adjacent routes, removing the truck routes would hurt regional movement of goods. It added any decision on removing routes would be premature before a decision on the Pattullo Bridge is made.

"We understand the City of New Westminster's concerns about the impact of truck routes in the community, and we have directed TransLink to work with the city towards a long-term solution that balances goods movement along the north shore of the Fraser River with livability for residents," said TransLink board chair Marcella Szei in the statement.

New Westminster Coun. Bill Harper said he expected TransLink to do more analysis and public consultation since the request was only made a few months ago.

"It looks like they made the decision on some pretty quick analysis," said Harper. "I would hope they would be more open to some real dialogue about the regional transportation network. What they're saying to us is 'Sorry, New West, you're going to have to bear the brunt of all this traffic because we don't want to deal with the extra traffic' [elsewhere in the region]."

Harper, however, was encouraged by TransLink's willingness to work with New West to find a long-term solution.

The decision disappointed Coun. Jonathan Coté, co-chair of the city's master transportation plan task force. He admitted the Royal Avenue request presented a lot of challenges. But, to him, eliminating truck traffic on East Eighth and East Columbia were no brainers because both routes run through residential areas.

"The livability of our community is being impacted by these routes going through our city when there are other routes that make more sense," said Coté. "To me I can't understand why that wouldn't be clear. I just don't think the proper diligence was done, in particular for the smaller requests. Basically we got a knee jerk reaction."

Truck traffic on East Eighth is noisy and dirty according to the president of the Massey/Victory Heights Residents Association. Jason Lesage said many residents have to wipe soot off their patio furniture before sitting down to enjoy nice summer evenings.

Lesage said during afternoon rush hours there's always a long line of Pattullo-bound trucks on East Eighth waiting to turn left onto McBride Boulevard.

"It really needs to be diverted somewhere else. It's a little disappointing to hear TransLink has made that decision," said Lesage.

But Coquitlam transportation planning manager Catherine Mohoruk particularly objected to removal of that route. In her submission to TransLink, Mohoruk said trucks need to be able to get to the Pattullo Bridge during afternoon peak periods. She also said eliminating the routes will increase congestion at the Brunette interchange on Highway 1 and along the Brunette/Lougheed Highway corridor.

The B.C. Trucking Association said removing the routes without providing alternatives would be detrimental to goods movement.

"The proposed truck route changes would force truck traffic onto already-congested adjacent routes, or to make costly and inefficient detours, leading to increased emissions, fuel usages and risk of crashes as exposure risks," said president and CEO Louise Yako in her submission to TransLink.

New Westminster also asked truck traffic on Ewen Avenue east of Derwent Way in Queensborough be removed. The board asked the city to provide more analysis and stakeholder input before making a decision on the request.

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015
East Eighth intersections to get changes
New Westminster News Leader
May 15, 2014
View on-line article

East Eighth intersections to get changes


Changes to me made to the intersection at East Eighth Avenue and Cherry, Devoy and Sherbrooke streets.   Photo City of New Westminster report

Two East Eighth Avenue intersections will get makeovers in the hope they'll be safer for pedestrians.

New Westminster council decided to close off access to Sherbrooke and Devoy streets from Eighth at Cherry Street. That will turn a five-leg intersection into a three-way.

Council also ordered a pedestrian-activated signal installed at Eighth and Richmond Street. The decision went against advice from the city's transportation department. Its staff recommended full signalization.

Some councillors said a full signal would encourage ratrunning on Richmond with a light making it easier to turn left onto Richmond. It could also create a danger from trucks making abrupt stops on a steep hill.

The traffic light recommendation shocked Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. He emphasized a pedestrian-activated light that doesn't automatically engage is more appropriate.

"That's too dangerous a street," said Puchmayr. "I do believe we need to be putting in more pedestrian-activated lights in the city. We need to stop putting in infrastructure for cars and putting in infrastructure for residents."

A motion from Coun. Jonathan Coté to refer the crosswalk to staff for more discussion was defeated.

"We have to take some leadership on this," said Puchmayr. "I don't know what going back to the community is going to do."

"I wonder what we're delaying this for," said Harper. "We've already had lots of consultation." He added a pedestrian-activated crosswalk seems to be the safest. "I don't know what other options you've got."

Transportation engineer Jerry Behl said staff recommended a full light because pedestrian crossings are low and vehicle collisions high. ICBC statistics show a signal there would lead to 18 fewer collisions over a five-year period with a traffic light.

"A full signal benefits both [pedestrians and drivers]," said Behl.

The intersection has a tunnel below it believed to have been built in the 1960s. Council directed staff to investigate improving the tunnel's lighting and surveillance to encourage its use.

"Then it becomes the ultimate safe route. There's no interaction between cars and people," said Harper.

"Nowhere in this report did I see staff say let's improve this tunnel," said Coun. Betty McIntosh. "Use the funding (for a full traffic signal) that would let pedestrians and cyclists use it."

Massey-Victory Heights Resident Association president Jason Lesage said his group did not want any traffic signalization. "[Richmond Street residents] are worried any signalization will result in increased traffic," he told council Monday.

The new Cherry Street intersection design allows vehicles to enter Sherbrooke from East Eighth. Both sides of East Eighth will get curb extensions.

A crosswalk realignment will make the crossing shorter and improve visibility for pedestrians.

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015

New Westminster attracts garage sale fans from near and far
New Westminster Record
May 2, 2014
View on-line article

New Westminster attracts garage sale fans from near and far

Jason Lesage

Perfect for a Jason: One of the treasures Jason Lesage has for sale at this weekend's Massey Victory Heights Garage Sale is a childhood toy chest. Several areas of New West have neighbourhood garage sales, attracting bargain hunters from around the region.   Photograph By Larry Wright

New Westminster is becoming a destination for folks in search of treasures at neighbourhood garage sales.

Nineteen years after the first Queen’s Park Garage Sale started in New Westminster, several other neighbourhood sales are in on the fun. Sales in Massey Victory Heights, Glenbrook North and the Quay attract garage sale junkies from near and far.

“We have a lot of old stuff here. We are a historic city. There are chances you could find something of incredible value,” said James Crosty, who organizes the Quayside Festival and Sale. “There’s an opportunity – I think that’s the intrigue.”

The Massey Victory Heights Residents’ Association kicks off the neighbourhood garage sale season this weekend.

“It’s an opportunity for our residents to get together. It’s engagement – it’s a good event to engage the community and engage the neighbours to come together to sell some of their wares,” said Jason Lesage, president of the Massey Victory Heights Residents’ Association. “But also, people make money.”

About 20 homes are taking part in this year’s sale in Massey Victory Heights, with shoppers coming from around the Lower Mainland.

“There is a dedicated audience of people across Metro Vancouver who shop around at these sort of neighbourhood garage sales,” Lesage said. “They say right at 8 o’clock in the morning or whenever the garage sale opens, they are there lining up to find those gems.”

The Massey Victory Heights yard sale takes place on Saturday, May 3 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Next up, is the Queen’s Park Garage Sale on Saturday, May 10 and the Glenbrooke North sale on Saturday, June 14.

“It’s always the day before Father’s Day,” said Marya McLellan of the Glenbrooke North sale. “Queen’s Park is sort of the Mother’s Day thing, and we are the Father’s Day thing.”

Glenbrook North, which is holding its 15th annual sale this year, donates a portion of its proceeds to Monarch Place, a transition house for women and children fleeing violence. Each year the sale generates several hundred dollars for Monarch Place.

McLellan’s home is one of several on her block that takes part in the annual sale, giving her a chance to chat with her neighbours and sell off items no longer needed.

“I really like the reusing aspect, not putting things in the garbage,” she said. “I always find treasures at my neighbours’ houses. It’s a great price. It’s that reuse/recycle thing is appealing to most people – and cleaning out our basements.”

Garage sale

Realtor Frank Wright launched the neighbourhood-wide garage sale trend in New Westminster back in 1995, when he sponsored the Queen’s Park Garage Sale. Not only did the garage sale give folks a chance to clear clutter from their homes, but a portion of the proceeds were donated to Canuck Place.

“Frank Wright started it in 1995. We always have it on the Saturday before Mother’s Day,” said Realtor Dave Vallee, who started sponsoring the sale in 2011, after Wright moved out of town. “I guess he just wanted to do something to pull the community together for a fun event and also to raise money for Canuck Place. Everybody that goes in it donates a portion of the proceeds to Canuck Place.”

Thousands of people descend on the historic Queen’s Park neighbourhood for the annual sale, which usually features 60 to 80 participants. The sale generates about $1,000 a year for Canuck Place, a hospice for children with life-threatening illnesses.

“The people that take part really love it. They enjoy it and look forward to it each year,” Vallee said. “Most of them enjoy it – some get a little annoyed by the traffic in the neighbourhood that morning. There’s a fair bit of traffic in the first couple of hours. It’s kind of a festival atmosphere.”

The Quayside Festival and Sale started with 50 tables and one band, but is expecting more than 175 tables, food trucks and four entertainment stages for the seventh annual event that’s taking place on Saturday, Aug. 16. Because it was difficult for condominium owners to have garage sales, the Quayside Community Board thought the boardwalk provided a perfect opportunity for a neighbourhood sale.

“We manage to capitalize on our location by making it a festival,” Crosty said. “The Quay is a beautiful place to have it.”

The Quayside Festival and Sale also raises funds for various charities. It’s been estimated that more than 10,000 attended last year’s event.

“It’s the old story – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I think that’s the attraction,” Crosty said. “You have to know what you are looking for. Often times people find the things they are collecting and the seller has no idea what the value is. That’s the allure – that golden piece.”

While residents sell a variety of items at their sales, the Quayside event may have the biggest ticket items.

“The very first year we had a condo and a car for sale. That was our big-ticket item. The condo eventually sold,” he said. “It’s the old story – you put it in front of enough people, and somebody is going to buy it.”

Because of limited budgets, the residents associations are grateful to sponsors who help cover promotional costs such as signage, flyers and maps listing participants in each sale. Realtors are perfectly position to promote the garages sales. While Vallee assists with the Queen’s Park sale, Realtor Derrick Thornhill sponsors the Glenbrook North and Massey Victory Heights sales.

“Realtors are better positioned to promote it because a lot of times we are sending out flyers and newsletters so we can include it in there. We are in touch with a lot of the people in the neighborhoods,” Vallee said. “There are benefits of having your name associated with it ­– that’s not the primary reason for doing it but you get the spin-off from that.”

If you’re a garage sale fan, you’ll want to put these dates on your calendar.

*  Massey Victory Heights Garage Sale: Saturday, May 3 – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Info:

*  Queen’s Park Garage Sale: Saturday, May 10 – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Info:

*  Glenbrook North Garage Sale: Saturday, June 14  – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Info:

*  Quayside Festival and Sale: Saturday, Aug. 16 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Info:

© 2015 New West Record

Hey Vancouver, there are affordable homes – 20 minutes away
Globe and Mail
May 2, 2014
View on-line article

Hey Vancouver, there are affordable homes – 20 minutes away

The tiny old city of New Westminster just might be the answer to the high price of Vancouver real estate.

Last year, Rick Vugteeven and his wife, Lana, were renting a Kitsilano apartment when they decided to go shopping for a house. After quickly discovering that Vancouver house prices were impossible, they decided to look in New Westminster, only a 20 minute SkyTrain or car ride away, if the traffic is kind.

Because it’s a historic city, the oldest in B.C., it’s got neighbourhoods that are packed with sleepy tree-lined streets and houses that ooze charm – Queen’s Park being the most famous among them. But it’s also one of the most walkable cities in the province, unlike surrounding suburbs, which were built for cars.

“We wanted to stay in an area that was very walkable, and had a sense of history and character,” says Mr. Vugteeven.

Last fall, he and his wife purchased a 1,900-square-foot character house in good condition for $583,000, on a lot that is 55 by 100 feet. The asking price was $585,000. It needs a new furnace and some of the windows need to be replaced, but otherwise it’s a solid and charming house.

The house, built in 1926, is in a part of New Westminster called Brow of the Hill, which is a mix of old fixer-uppers and rental buildings, with a commercial area nearby. It is, like other parts of the city, an area in transition, changing from a rundown and depressed neighbourhood to a place where young families want to fix up their houses and raise their kids. It’s also a short walk to the SkyTrain station, which is another major draw. New Westminster has five rapid transit stations.

“The only reason the price is what it is, is that it’s in an area mixed with apartments, and historically, is on the wrong side of the tracks. But many of the older houses have now been restored, and there are still plenty awaiting restoration,” says Mr. Vugteeven, who is 31, and works at home, for a Boston-based start-up.

“I’d imagine that much of the change is due to the relative affordability of homes here, compared to Vancouver.”

He is one of a growing group of former Vancouver residents who’ve been drawn to the city that sits on the north bank of the Fraser River, across the river from Surrey, sandwiched between Burnaby and Coquitlam.

“The fact is, New West has character and the surrounding areas don’t,” says real estate agent James Garbutt. Mr. Garbutt is also owner of the Steel & Oak Brewing company, which will open in five weeks in New Westminster. It is a joint venture with business partner Jorden Foss. Both men are typical of the urban-dwelling young person drawn to the city to lay down some roots.

Mr. Foss recently tweeted: “A guy is pushing a fixie up 3rd. With a baby on the back. That’s dedication to a lifestyle. #New West: where hipsters go to have kids.”

With a population of 70,000 and a land area of only 15.6 square kilometres, it’s not just a hilly city, but also a dense city – with a rapidly growing condo market of about 20,000 units and a couple more thousand on their way, according to Mr. Garbutt. But the housing stock, at around 8,000 to 9,000 houses is fixed, which means house prices will go up with demand.

“Eventually, all those condo people are going to want to live in houses,” he says.

Mr. Garbutt was raised in Burnaby and lives with his wife and kids in a 120-year-old fixer-upper in Queens Park.

“It seems like 75 per cent of the traffic at my open houses is Vancouver people. This year it’s stood out that Vancouver people are moving to New West. We are more on the map than before, that’s for sure. We’re getting more attention than we ever have before.”

Landcor Data Corp., which happens to be based in New Westminster, provided The Globe and Mail with all the sales for detached homes in the city for the past year. The median price was $650,000. The lowest priced house was for $179,906 and the highest was for $1.7-million. Of 254 sales, only eight of them were for more than $1-million.

In Vancouver, the median price of a detached house is $1.29-million, according to Landcor.

In New Westminster, there still exists the old-fashioned fixer-upper – the old house that holds potential and promise for a younger buyer who’s willing to do renovations. That sort of house is nearly impossible to find in Vancouver because the land values are simply too high to make it worthwhile. The Vancouver fixer-upper has been replaced by the investment property that will be torn down for a new build. As the late urban planning writer Jane Jacobs once said: “Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.”

New Westminster still has old buildings. Jason Lesage, president of the Massey Victory Heights Residents Association, says he frequently meets couples that are willing to renovate them rather than live in a small Vancouver condo. “This is where they can afford to do it and it’s still near the bright lights of the big city,” he says.

Mr. Lesage, 43, and his wife, Ashley, are typical of the type of new buyer in New Westminster. They used to live in Vancouver and they still work there, so commuting time is a major consideration. They prefer to remain a one-car family, and Mr. Lesage can get downtown by SkyTrain in 35 minutes.

When they went looking for a house in East Van three years ago, all they saw were “eyesores” that needed a ton of work, on small lots, close to busy roads. Like a lot of new buyers, they checked out Burnaby, but didn’t find enough of a price difference to make it enticing. They ended up buying a three-level, 2,300-square-foot house for $725,000 in the Massey Victory Heights neighbourhood.

“It’s a nicely kept, plain Jane house,” says Mr. Lesage. “It had just been renovated, so it was walk-in ready.

There are still perfectly good houses for less than $700,000, he adds.

“They might need a bit of work to make them nicer, but they aren’t disasters,” says Mr. Lesage. “We thought about condos, but I’m not a fan of those maintenance fees. I think it’s money down the drain. Here, I have a house on land.”

Mr. Garbutt can’t figure out why prices are so much lower than Burnaby and Vancouver, other than the city is still undiscovered. He says a 1950s two-level house around Deer Lake in Burnaby will run you about $800,000 to $900,000. If you were to drive five minutes from there, to New Westminster’s West End or Glenbrook areas, you’d find the same house for $200,000 less.

“I think maybe the big difference between Burnaby and New Westminster is the overseas buyers prefer Burnaby. They haven’t discovered New Westminster yet like they discovered Richmond and Burnaby a few years ago. I’m guessing that’s why it’s been relatively affordable here.”

For those who have discovered it, part of the appeal is also the many improvements that have been done in the last few years, such as the River Market, where you’ll find Wild Rice Restaurant, Re-Up BBQ, Wally’s Burgers and Longtail Kitchen. There are trendy shops popping up, a year-round farmers’ market, and the Pier Park for riverside walks. As well, the city has spent money on major improvements along Columbia Street, and has allocated funds to demolish part of the multilevel Front Street parkade, a huge concrete barrier between city and waterfront, built in the fifties.

Developer Robert Fung’s condo project on Columbia Street, Trapp + Holbrook, set for completion next year, has helped generate the buzz. Mr. Fung is best known for his stylish modern condos with heritage façades throughout Gastown.

“It’s definitely got a cool factor going on and will increase density to the downtown area,” says Mr. Garbutt.

That’s if the traffic congestion from all that density doesn’t make it unlivable. If there is one huge drawback to New Westminster, as most anybody living there will tell you, it’s the traffic. Earlier this year, the toll that came into affect on the Port Mann Bridge has meant cars are choosing to go over New Westminster’s Pattullo Bridge instead, which has caused rage-inducing traffic jams at rush hour. It is a headache, and one they feel could be solved if there was also a toll for the Pattullo Bridge.

The other worry is that B.C.’s largest stock of heritage housing could be lost if New Westminster house prices should climb. Earlier this year, a lovely heritage house on 3rd Avenue in Queen’s Park was sent to the landfill because it was sitting on two lots.

The positive aspect of the new young buyers is that they’re more interested in saving the old houses, not demolishing them. They’re in it for the home, not the lot value.

“There is character in New West and that’s slowly being discovered, and that’s why it’s getting increasingly popular,” says Mr. Garbutt. “It’s a hidden gem because it’s a small town in a big city.”

City talking truck routes
New Westminster News Leader
February 4, 2014
View on-line article

City talking truck routes

Massey Victory Heights residents are worried the volume of truck traffic rumbling through their neighbourhood could increase if any changes are made to truck routes in New Westminster.

The city is proposing East Eighth and Royal avenues and East Columbia Street be removed entirely as truck routes, but that would still have to be worked out with the province.

To reduce truck traffic headed to and from the Pattullo Bridge, Queen's Park Residents Association (QPRA) have called for a total ban of trucks on Royal Avenue where like East Eighth Avenue they're currently allowed during daylight hours. However, the Massey Victory Heights Residents Association (MVHRA) doesn't want the trucks to end up on East Eighth if Royal is the only one where it's taken away.

"In theory the trucks wouldn't be able to move onto East Eighth Avenue as an alternate," said MVHRA president Jason Lesage. "We're keeping a close eye on the discussion the city is having with TransLink and the provincial government to ensure that our area around Massey Heights has our livability standards kept. It's a real challenge, especially for those residents on East Eighth Avenue."

Lesage said one resident of the heavily used street has spent a lot of money sound-proofing her home because the trucks currently using East Eighth make so much noise.

The MVHRA and QPRA will be out in full force next Wednesday (Feb. 12, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.) when the city holds an open house on truck route designations in the city hall's council chambers. Trucks would be allowed to travel through New West via Stewardson Way, Brunette Avenue, Front Street and McBride Avenue with Tenth Avenue west of McBride remaining as a daytime route.

The New Westminster Chamber of Commerce is also encouraging its members to attend after many of them contacted the chamber office in the last few days worried about the changes.

"Many business owners have expressed that these changes will have a negative impact on local businesses," said the organization's website. "There are many unanswered questions in the city's announcement. What are their plans to increase the capacity of what would appear to be the only east-west route through New Westminster being the Stewardson Way/Front Street/Columbia Street/Brunette Avenue route? What are the anticipated impacts to our local businesses in New Westminster?

© Copyright New Westminster NewsLeader 2015