New Westminster outlines transformative redesign of streets in Uptown district

Dec 4 2020, 7:36 pm

Transformative pedestrian-oriented changes are planned for the retail-lined streets of the Uptown district in New Westminster.

The municipal government has unveiled its medium- to long-term streetscape vision for Uptown, with specific focus on improving the length of 6th Street between 10th Avenue (next to the brand new New Westminster Secondary School) to the north and 5th Avenue to the south, and along 6th Avenue between 8th Street to the west and 5th Street to the east.

The planned street changes are highly comprehensive, with large sections of the curbside parking lanes along 6th Street reconfigured as flexible public spaces.

The uses within this flexible space include expanded sidewalk width for pedestrians and parklets, as well as taxi and ridehailing pick-up and drop-off areas, carshare spaces, e-bike share stations, electric-battery vehicle charging stations, and food truck spaces.

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Site of the Uptown Streetscape Vision in New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Site of the Uptown Streetscape Vision in New Westminster. (City of New Westminster)

So-called “Great Street” principles will also narrow the road crossing distance for pedestrians through the construction of median islands and sidewalk extensions onto the curbside lane.

New pocket plazas are planned mainly at street corners, and “eclectic and artistic” laneway activations — similar to the laneway projects in downtown Vancouver — will create a new pedestrian-friendly public realm that also retains utilities and access to vehicles.

Other principles entail colourful crosswalks and intersections, public art, creative overhead lighting, high-quality street furniture, and new street trees and landscaping that doubles as stormwater management.

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Diagram of New Westminster Uptown street design principles on 6th Street. (City of New Westminster)

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Artistic rendering of New Westminster Uptown street design principles. (City of New Westminster)

Vibrant design for core stretch of 6th Street

The overhaul includes an aesthetic redesign of the travel lanes of the core stretch of 6th Street between 6th Avenue and Belmont Street, with the roadway’s asphalt removed and replaced with striking cast-in-place concrete patterns.

Additionally, this core stretch will also see a new large public plaza from the closure of the eastern end of Belmont Street where it meets 6th Avenue. The eastern half of Belmont Street’s city block between 7th Street and 6th Street — already featuring a parklet on the curbside lane — will be redeveloped into a plaza, and a cul-de-sac will be added to the western half to maintain a vehicle connection to a building driveway.

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Artistic rendering of 6th Street looking north from Belmont Street. (City of New Westminster)

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Site plan for the core stretch of 6th Street between 6th Avenue and Belmont Street. (City of New Westminster)

Existing condition:

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Existing condition of 6th Street looking north from Belmont Street. (Google Maps)

Future condition:

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Artistic rendering of 6th Street looking north from Belmont Street. (City of New Westminster)

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Artistic rendering of 6th Street temporarily closed for a special event, looking north from Belmont Street. (City of New Westminster)

New public plaza and pedestrian scramble crossing

The core stretch of 6th Street carries an event-friendly design when it is closed to vehicles, effectively creating a temporary spillover plaza of the adjacent permanent public plaza on Belmont Street.

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Site plan of the changes to Belmont Street for a new public plaza. (City of New Westminster)

Existing condition:

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Existing condition of Belmont Street looking east to the intersection with 6th Street. (Google Maps)

Future condition:

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Artistic rendering of the changes to Belmont Street for a new public plaza. (City of New Westminster)

At the northern end of the core stretch, the prominent intersection of 6th Street and 6th Avenue — right outside Royal City Centre shopping mall — could see various public space improvements, including a pedestrian scramble with traffic signals that allow pedestrians to cross in all directions at the same time, even diagonally.

Bus-priority measures to help speed up and improve the reliability of buses are envisioned for the corridor, such as traffic signal priority from the installation of bus detection at key intersections, the removal of on-street parking in peak hours at select locations, and bus stop bulges on the curbside lane so that buses do not have to pull in and out of the travel lane.

new westminster uptown streetscape vision

Artistic rendering of the street changes, including the pedestrian scramble, in and around the intersection of 6th Street and 6th Avenue. (City of New Westminster)

The vision also outlines new guidelines for future building developments, such as mandating generous building setbacks to provide private sidewalk and patio seating space that complements the city’s three-metre-width public sidewalk standard, as well as identifying the need for continuous streetfront awnings for optimal weather protection for pedestrians.

Some of the city-led public realm improvements could be performed in conjunction with utilities upgrades that require digging up roadways.

The municipal government plans to implement the street changes through the redevelopment of adjacent properties, city-funded capital projects, financial support from TransLink, and funding from developers through their community amenity contributions, voluntary amenity contributions, and development cost charges.

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