NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) — It’s time for New Westminster to focus on rebuilding after its historic pier was destroyed in a suspected arson that burned for more than a week, according to the city’s business community.
The fire broke out Sept. 13, burning for 11 days before it was completely extinguished Thursday. It destroyed part of the old pier, closed the Park Pier indefinitely, and the iconic ‘W’ artwork that once overlooked the waterfront couldn’t be spared.
But now that the flames have subsided, deciding on the future for that area is the next step.
Scott McAlpine, board president of the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce, says people who live in the area, as well as the business community, should have a chance to contribute ideas through public consultation.
“The City is very proactive in that regard and is starting to talk with people about how to best reconstruct,” he says.
Based on other public projects in the past, he’s confident the city will do things the right way.
Watch: Stubborn fire in New West
As for the business sector, McAlpine is hopeful it will be able to recover.
“First of all, we have to be aware that a number of businesses were impacted by that fire and continue to be. So, I think it’s an unfortunate thing, but I’m certain this too shall pass and we’ll get through it,” he says.
“The resilience of the business community in New Westminster is something that’s quite remarkable.”
New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote tweeted thank those who helped put out the fire.
The City announced yesterday afternoon that the fire at the Timber Wharf section of Westminster Pier Park is now fully extinguished. It has been an incredible effort from our New Westminster Fire Department, City staff and outside agencies to support this. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/Ek2VE3dQeX
— Jonathan Cote (@jonathanxcote) September 25, 2020
“As we look towards the remediation and clean up phase, I am positive we will find solutions to rebuild and reconnect,” he writes.
There isn’t one definitive vision for the neighbourhood, but McAlpine notes it was a space for public use before, and he expects it to be so again.
“Certainly, things that will draw traffic to downtown New Westminster and draw traffic to the pier would be good in a family-oriented and public-facing way,” he says.
McAlpine says money from senior levels of government to help would be appreciated, but admits given all the other costs right now, that might be difficult to secure.
The park remains closed.
Earlier this month, New Westminster Police arrested a man suspected to have started the fire.
No charges have been recommended to Crown Counsel yet.
– With files from Lisa Steacy