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July 4th. 2016

The Best in New West – Ice Cream Edition

The best ice cream in New West is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. You may not think of New Westminster as an ice cream destination, but oh is it ever! Gelato, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sprinkles galore! New Westminster is the perfect stop for a sweet treat in the summer heat.

Here are the 6 best places (in no particular order) to keep cool with an ice cream cone this summer.

Eats at the Pier

Our journey through delicious frozen treats begins with Eats at the Pier in Westminster Pier Park. Eats at the Pier not only has a variety of great ice cream flavors, but also a great view and many of places to sit. On a hot summers day, what could be better than sitting in the park’s tanning chairs with an ice cream cone in hand? Keep cool while enjoying a frozen treat.

Eats at the Pier ice cream

Tre Galli Gelato

Next up on the list of ice cream destinations is Tre Galli Gelato in the River Market at the New Westminster Quay. This gelato is made from a secret Gallo family recipe. The three Italian-born brothers Max, Saveiro, and Salvatore Gallo will make you feel right at home with their sweet and savory flavours. For a true taste of Italy, head over to the River Market for some gelato!

Anny’s Dairy Bar

Anny’s Dairy Bar is a family owned business local to Uptown New Westminster on 6th Street. With a 4.5 star rating on Zomato and a 4.7 star rating on Facebook it won’t disappoint! Widely known for their Maple Twist soft serve, poutine, and milkshakes, this French Canadian Restaurant is sure to hit home with true Canadian eats.

Maple Twist soft serve ice cream

Retrieved from: 604 Now.

RainCity Juicery

RainCity Juicery has been around for one whole year now! Established in 2015, the juicery is celebrating their anniversary by selling you edible happiness – Rocky Point Ice Cream. If you have ever visited Rocky Point Park in Port Moody, or are from the tri-cities, you know how incredible these flavours and ice creams are. Make it guilt-free by grabbing a healthy cold-pressed juice or cleanse package on your way out.

RainCity Juicery ice cream

Marble Slab Creamery

We are all familiar with Marble Slab Creamery. This ice cream destination in New West’s Smartcentre (Queensborough) allows for you to create your own bowl or cone, gives you options for delicious combinations, and even allows you to make your own sundae. Ice cream cakes are also for sale at this franchise. We heart Marble Slab.

Menchies

Last, but certainly not least, for all of you frozen yogurt lovers is the one, the only, Menchies! Menchies is truly one of the most loved frozen yogurt bars in any city. The franchise has tiny bowls for you to sample a variety of flavors while the larger bowls and waffle cups are there for your filling pleasure. Unlike other build-your-own ice cream bars, Menchies’ pricing is based on weight, not size. This place is irresistible. The trip to Columbia Square Plaza couldn’t be sweeter.

June 30th. 2016

The Best in New West – Patio Edition

We’re serving up more than just cold beers! New Westminster is home to a variety of beautiful patios for you to spend a summer day on. Here are a few that we think are worth coming to visit.

New West Patios

Longtail Kitchen

Serving up a variety of Thai creations, Longtail Kitchen is a great place to grab some lunch and relax on the patio while you’re at it. This patio is right on the Fraser River; ideal for spending some time with friends in the sunshine.

Longtail Kitchen, Patios, Patio, Pad Thai, Thai Food, Food, New West, Restaurant

Image retrieved from: here.

The Hub Restaurant

Located in the Shops at New West Station, The Hub has happy hour, brunch on weekends and holidays, and daily drink specials. Along with the great Ocean Wise seafood and good company, this hidden gem also has a great patio with a New West kind-of-view like no other.

Wild Rice Restaurant

Wild Rice is cooking up grandma’s traditional Chinese recipes with a local, farm-fresh, Ocean Wise seafood, and hormone-free spin. With gluten-free and vegan options, they use the best ingredients to cook you a meal that your taste buds and tummy will love. They also have a variety of BC beers on tap, local wines, and other 1 oz. and 2 oz. drinks to keep you cool this summer.

Relax on the Wild Rice patio on the Fraser River. Soak up the sun, enjoy a drink, and have some good eats!

Patios, Wild Rice, Restaurant, New West, Patio, Food, Vegan, Gluten-Free

The Met Bar & Grill

This quiet garden patio located adjacent to The Met Hotel has an ever-changing drink special, and to-die-for food specials. They also have a brunch menu for you early-risers!

Featuring a large variety of craft beers and a diverse menu of cocktails and liquors, a summer’s day on the patio couldn’t get any better.

 

Met Bar & Grill, New West, The Met, Patio, Patios, Bar, Grill, Food, Restaurant

Image retrieved from: here.

The Boathouse

Known for the views of the water, the Boathouse patio will not let you down. For the summer only, the restaurant is featuring a BBQ menu. What else says summer time like some good ol’ barbecue?

On Quayside Drive, connected the the Inn at the Quay, The Boathouse is the place to be!

Public Spaces

Alongside these fabulous New West patios, there are a variety of great public spaces to hang out at on a hot summer day as well!

A few include:

  • The new parklet in Uptown New Westminster on the corner of Sixth Street and Belmont Street
  • The movable (red) furniture throughout the city including in front of the Anvil Centre
  • The hammocks in Pier Park along the Fraser River
  • The picnic shelters in both Queens Park and Port Royal Park

No matter where you find yourself in New Westminster, there’s a place to appreciate the sunshine and have a #MadeInNewWest day everyday!

June 27th. 2016

Canada Day fun and more—top 5 things to do in New West this week:

An abbreviated work week doesn’t mean any shortage of fun! There’s plenty to do in New West this week, from Canada Day celebrations to a performance by a legendary Canadian band. Here are our top 5 picks:

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Last Monday at the Movies: A Brilliant Young Mind

What: The Arts Council of New Westminster presents last Monday at the Movies. This month’s flick is A Brilliant Young Mind: Struggling to build relationships with others, a teenage math prodigy (Asa Butterfield) develops a budding friendship with a young girl (Jo Yang) while competing at the International Mathematics Olympiad.

Where: Massey Theatre, 735 Eighth Avenue.

When: June 27th 2016, 7:30-9pm.

Cost: $8-10.

 

Gateway to Downtown New Westminster Public Art Unveiling

What: rorschach/sentinel is based on a profile of a large merchant ship that was vital to the Allied war effort. Such ships docked at the New Westminster port and contributed to the labour history and economic development of the city. The artwork also refers to the iconic Rorschach test. The contemplation of ‘found’ images and patterns, edited in some way – by selection, placement, juxtaposition – alters meaning, each of us selecting and interpreting what we see.

Artists will be in attendance. Light refreshments will be served.

Where: The median on Columbia Street.

When: June 29th 2016, 4:30pm.

Cost: Free.

 

Canada Day at Queen’s Park: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Canadian Women’s Suffrage

What: Join the City of New Westminster for a day of fabulous fun, celebrations and performances for the entire family in Queen’s Park! Enjoy exciting entertainment, interactive community display booths and our celebrated ‘Pick-a-Box’ silent auction. Free Admission.

Where: Queen’s Park Bandshell.

When: July 1st 2016, 11:30am-3:30pm.

Cost: Free.

 

New West Multicultural Fest 2016

What: Celebrate the rich cultural diversity that exists in our community today! This family friendly event marks the start of summer! Cultural groups representing the countries of their birth bring their unique traditions of celebration through music and dance interpretation and taste.

Where: River Market, 810 Quayside Drive.

When: July 1st 2016, 1-10pm.

Cost: Free.

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Pointed Sticks at the Columbia

What: For the first time in their almost 40 year history, Vancouver punk/pop legends the Pointed Sticks will be bringing their brand of infectious 60’s influenced dance music to the Royal City! Supported by We Found A LoveBird and Tayt Modern, this promises to be a great evening of music and fun at the beautiful Columbia Theatre. Dress for success, be sure to wear your dancing shoes!

Where: The Columbia Theatre, 530 Columbia Street.

When: July 2nd, 2016. Doors at 9pm, show at 10pm.

Cost: $20.

June 20th. 2016

Cultural events, comedy, and live music—oh my! Top 5 things to do in New West this week:

New West is full of cultural events, comedy, live music, fundraisers and more! From the hilarity that is sure to ensue at the Columbia to a Bollywood and musical benefit, you’re sure to have a unique and memorable experience in our city! Here are our top 5 events this week:

National Aboriginal Day

What: National Aboriginal Day events take place from coast to coast, and New Westminster is no exception. Anvil Centre hosts Spirit of the Children Society for a day of unique programming celebrating the diverse cultures of Canada’s Aboriginal populations.

Where: Anvil Centre, 777 Columbia Street.

When: June 21st 2016, 11am-4pm.

Cost: Free.

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Complete Works of William Shakespeare…Abridged

What: 37 plays in 97 minutes. 1,222 characters and 3 actors to rule them all! Alchemy Theatre is proud to present the most heinous act committed against William Shakespeare and English majors everywhere. For one weekend only, June 24th to 26th, in the elegant Columbia Theatre in New Westminster, Alchemy Theatre brings you a most offensive play where audiences can enjoy dinner and beverages throughout the show. Each show will also have a special performance by local comedian, Tiffany Anderson.

Where: The Columbia Theatre, 530 Columbia Street.

When: June 24th-June 26th 2016.

Cost: $20-25.

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Bollywood at Queensborough Community Centre 

What: Bosley’s Columbia Square and Columbia Square Animal Hospital are going Bollywood on June 25th for the New Westminster Animal Shelter! Join them for a Bollywood Street Party at the Queensborough Community Centre from 6pm to 10pm. There will be a band, dancing, Indian Street food, henna and crafts for kids.

Where: Queensborough Community Centre, 920 Ewen Avenue.

When: June 25th 2016, 6-10pm.

Cost: Free.

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Beatles and Abba Tributes at the Massey Theatre

What: Hey Jude its Mamma Mia! Relive and reminisce, sing and dance to the music of the top bands of the sixties and seventies. This is the ultimate Beatles and Abba platinum hits concert event. One night only!

Where: Massey Theatre, 835 Eighth Avenue.

When: June 25th 2016, 7-9:30pm.

Cost: $29-49.

 

Royal City Musical Theatre Fundraiser at El Santo

What: Here’s your chance to relive the magic of Royal City Musical Theatre’s Fiddler on the Roof! Join cast members for an intimate performance, great food and drinks at this unique fundraiser! 

Where: El Santo, 680 Columbia Street.

When: June 26th 2016, 7-9pm.

Cost: $100.

June 16th. 2016

What to Buy Dad for Father’s Day

Don’t know what to buy Dad for Father’s Day?

Don’t sweat it! We’ve got you covered. Here are the top 5 last-minute things to buy for him in New Westminster.

  • What goes together like peanut butter and jam? Dads and beer of course! Steel & Oak has a variety of different brews to suit every taste. Come on in, fill up a growler, and have some fun while you’re at it! You could even buy Dad a couple differ
    ent brews to see what he likes best.
  • From furniture to journals, the Urban Man Cave has everything your father has secretly been wanting. Finish off his new man cave with a clock, or a bar stool for his favourite sports team. The possibilities are limitless. (Father’s Day BONUS: Free 21 Function Multi Tool with $50 Purchase. While supplies last).
  • Brick & Mortar has some awesome New Westminster T-shirts that are perfect for Dad. Why don’tcha give your Dad the gift of style this Father’s Day and bless him with a new shirt.
  • Check out the Banana Lab in New Westminster, or shop online through their Etsy page. They have various rustic phone cases and a variety of leather key chains that are perfect for Dad! Or, if you have more money to spoil him with, check out some of their furniture. What father wouldn’t love a new chair to relax in?
  • Queensborough Landing is the home to New Westminster’s Smartcentre. The shopping centre boasts a plethora of brand names including a few that Dad will love. Some stores to check out for Father’s Day include Quiksilver, Calvin Klein, Lindt Chocolate, Moores, Tommy Hilfiger, and Roots.

Whether you are looking for furniture, clothing, or beer for Father’s Day, New West has something for everybody. We hope to see you, and your Dad, soon!

June 13th. 2016

Celebrate New West! Here are our top 5 things to do this week:

Don’t let the rain get you down! It’s still summer and summer in New West means everything from an abundance of free music to celebrations of our waterfront and our public art! Here are our top 5 things to do this week (and don’t forget to celebrate dad on Sunday!):

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Dueling Pianos at Match

What: Every Wednesday is Dueling Pianos at Match Eatery & Public House at Starlight Casino! Request your favourite songs and get ready to sing along! Music starts at 7pm.

Where: Match Eatery & Public House at Starlight Casino, 350 Gifford Street.

When: Every Wednesday at 7pm.

Cost: Free.

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Art in the Streets: Rob Matharu

What: Art in the Streets aims to highlight local artists, enhance public space and provide context to the area and activities that occur within the community. This year’s selected artist is Rob “Shockk” Matharu whose designs will be exhibited on street banners along 6th Street, from Columbia Street to 5th Avenue. Light refreshments will be served and the artist will be in attendance.

Where: New Westminster City Hall, 511 Royal Avenue.

When: June 17th 2016, 4:30pm.

Cost: Free.

 

Music By the River: Cranky Molluscs

What: The Arts Council of New Westminster in partnership with the City of New Westminster and River Market presents MUSIC BY THE RIVER.

This busking-style music program featuring weekend performances by selected musicians at River Market.

Cranky Molluscs are an acoustic instrumental duo that performs a variety of world folk music. From waltzable french tunes to fiery tangoes, The Molluscs are a fun and dynamic bunch.

Donations are welcome.

Where: River Market, 810 Quayside Drive.

When: June 18th 2016, 12-2pm.

Cost: Free.

 

Queensborough Children’s Festival

What: The 5th annual Queensborough Children’s festival is a fun filled family event celebrating children of all ages! Join us for interactive play, amazing entertainment such as “Music with Marnie”, craft stations, food and more! The event goes rain or shine.

Where: Queensborough Community Centre, 920 Ewen Avenue.

When: June 18th at 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm.

Cost: Free!

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Pier to Landing

What: The City of New Westminster hosts Pier 2 Landing, a celebration of its waterfront on Father’s Day! The event includes live entertainment, artisanal market, barbecue, bike decorating, sandcastle building, community art projects, Live5210 Playbox, a pop-up museum, historical and environmental walking tours, the Paper Girl art program, cycling tours, and a bike rodeo.

Where: Westminster Pier Park, Front Street, and Sapperton Landing Park.

When: June 19th 2016, 11am-2pm. 

Cost: Free.

June 6th. 2016

Festivals, anniversaries, comedy and more–top 5 things to do in New West this week!

It’s the second week of June and there’s so much to see and do in the Royal City! From annual festivals, live shows and markets, there’s something for everyone! Check out our top 5 things to do in New West this week (June 6-12th 2016):

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Royal City Summer Farmers Market

What: Join the Royal City Farmers Market every Thursday in Tipperary Park for an exciting and family friendly market! Up to 40 vendors will be at each market offering fresh local produce, prepared foods, handmade crafts, and delicious food trucks. Every market also features live music and kids’ activities as well! After market, why not catch the Sr. Salmonbellies game at Queen’s Park Arena? Game starts at 7:45pm.

When: June 9th 2016, 3-7pm.

Where: Tipperary Park.

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Patrick Maliha at Lafflines

What: Patrick Maliha is the world record holder for most impressions in one minute- beating out the previous record holder, Dana Carvey. His act has been described as Ray Romano meets a 21st Century Don Rickles. Join Patrick for two shows this weekend at Lafflines!

Where: Lafflines Comedy Club, 530 Columbia Street.

When: June 10-11th 2016.

Cost: $20.

 

Music By the River: Bruce Andrews

What: Have a #MadeInNewWest day by the river! Bike along Westminster Pier Park and grab a treat at Eats at Pier Park. Continue down to River Market and catch busker Brice Andrews performing from noon to 2pm! Click here for a list of all upcoming Music By the River artists.

Where: Westminster Pier Park, River Market, 810 Quayside Drive.

When: June 11th 2016, 12-2pm.

Cost: Free.

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Sapperton Days

What: Street Festival that donates all proceeds to the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. Last year’s festival donated $13,000 to support their fundraising campaign. Join us for bouncy castles, clowns, jugglers, games, live performances, mini-doughnuts, pancake breakfast, rock climbing, vendors, and more!

Where: 400 block E. Columbia Street.

When: June 12th 2016, 11am-5pm.

Cost: Free!

 

Taverna Greka 34th Anniversary

What: Congratulations to Taverna Greka on 34 years of business! Stop in today and enjoy 34% of your entire bill!

Where: Taverna Greka,

When: June 12th 2016.

Cost: 34% off your entire bill!

June 4th. 2016

Culture & the City with Michelle Taylor

By Sheliza Mitha

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If there’s a more informed or passionate person about New Westminster’s diverse arts, culture and heritage scene than Michelle Taylor, the City’s official Heritage Programmer, then I can’t think of one. Michelle has been the Heritage Programmer for New Westminster over the past two years and has since created countless programs for the young and the young-at-heart.

While Michelle’s area of scope covers three sites (Anvil Centre, Samson V and Irving House), she notes that the goal is to think outside the walls and view “the entire city as a museum and an opportunity to bring and expand our programs into the neighbourhoods.”

Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Master of Museum Studies and years of previous museum experience, she is well suited to this newly-created position. I took some time to chat with Michelle about her culture and heritage role, and about some of the city’s key arts, culture and heritage offerings.

How would you best describe your average workday?

Well, like most jobs that fit within the tourism industry, there is no average day.  My job is to raise awareness, educate and get people engaged in the city’s culture and history.  In my department, we create and implement three types of programs – drop-in programs, registered programs and school programs.  In fact, we have a multitude of drop-in programs that are either free or low-cost, the point of which is to add value to peoples’ lives and make these activities accessible for everyone.

What are some culture and heritage activities and programs you’ve created?

We often have opening receptions for our exhibitions, and a large variety of programs or classes that relate to any given exhibit.  For example, there might be a printmaking class, or a workshop on the “life of a pioneer.”  We’ve just opened a feature exhibition called “Branching Out” and in the fall we’re offering a class called “Invasive Plant Species Weaving,” in which people learn how to weave baskets and coasters from some invasive plants harvested in New Westminster. As part of the “Our Working Waterfront” exhibit, we partnered with New West Film Fest to show a documentary film in the River Market and discussed the movie with a panel of experts afterwards.

What’s also really special is that the Heritage Garden at the historic Irving House is worked on by two local kindergarten classes.  Once a week, these kids come in to learn about plants and soil, and then actually do some gardening while also learning about the life cycle of vegetables.  In June, they get to harvest and eat the vegetables they planted. So, it all comes full circle for them.

Can you tell me about a few of the most memorable programs you’ve created and worked on?

I think one of my favourites would have to be the very first program I created called “Night at the Museum” around Halloween.  Being able to create and implement this program – and have it be so popular – was a great introduction to the City for me.  It sold out in its first two years, and we actually had to add another class.  As part of this event, we lead kids through the darkened New Westminster Museum inside Anvil Centre with flashlights, tell local ghost stories, make a spooky craft and so on.

Another really important and meaningful program is Saving Our Stones – which is a project to help preserve our cemeteries.  Our museum staff work with volunteers – anyone who’s interested – to help clean and maintain gravestones that don’t have family members to look after them.  We just got so much interest in this project, and it was really quite amazing.  People seemed genuinely interested and excited to help, and – at the end of it – it really felt like we made an impact together on the community.

This summer we have a new program that I’m really excited about called Pop-Up Museum, happening at New Westminster’s various parks every Thursday through July and August.  This program will have artifacts, objects, photos and so on for display.  We figure if the people can’t come to us, we’ll go to them and show that culture and history are alive in the city. I think it’s important to get out into the neighbourhoods, and show residents our various exhibits by moving them beyond the walls of our museums.

What is the best part of your job?

I get to create and get to be creative. While there are many regular aspects of my job – such as sending emails and booking spaces – I also have a great opportunity to create programs and then implement them for the community.  My favourite part of this job is to make something real from just a few ideas and get to be a part of making it happen – and then interact with it and the community once the program is ready.

What would you say is New West’s best-kept secret?

Probably, the museum inside the Anvil Centre – and the other sites too.  Even some long-time residents forget about the city’s museum offerings.  The amount of heritage we have as one of BC’s oldest cities provides some incredible history for us.

I think people sometimes don’t know how to engage with the city’s important culture and history, but it’s really part of the identity of New West.  Without it, the city would just be a few buildings and traffic.  The arts and culture here is really the lifeblood of New West; it’s the soul and spirit of who we are and what makes us unique – and it has the ability to draw people.  The culture is really woven into the city here – and, best of all, it’s important to note that all three of our sites (Anvil Centre, Samson V and Irving House) are free or admission is by donation so it’s very affordable for everyone.   So, hopefully, the city’s incredible history and museums won’t be a secret for too much longer!

Fun fact: Did you know the BC tourism industry generated some $14.6 billion in revenue in 2014, a 5.1 per cent increase over 2013?

For more information on the city’s museum offerings, visit the Anvil Centre, Irving House and Samson V.

June 3rd. 2016

Cruising with Doug Leaney at Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours

By Sheliza Mitha

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When Doug and Helga Leaney set out to create their own riverboat tour business nearly three decades ago, little did they know that their modest venture would provide such a real sense of adventure for so many.  It was, in fact, 27 years ago this spring that Doug and Helga started their successful riverboat tour company – an idea that came to them easily, based on their own love for boating and for the Fraser River.

Since a portion of BC’s longest and mightiest river flows along New Westminster and Fort Langley, where the Leaneys made their home at the time, this was a route they were particularly fond of and had travelled well.

“When we took our boat down the Fraser, the views were just so incredible,” explains Doug.  “We’d see amazing sights and sounds and wildlife such as seals, ospreys, eagles, salmon and sturgeon… and we wanted to find a way to share this experience with others. It was my wife who said ‘it’s too bad we can’t show this to other people.’ And that’s when we began to work on this idea.”

The year was 1987, and the Leaneys’ riverboat tour company was born a year and a half later in 1989 with a 40-passenger cruise boat.  But after being in business for only a year, Doug realized two things: “Our boat was too small, and we’re not doing enough to build business.  What we really should have, we thought, is a paddlewheeler boat.”

Acquiring a paddlewheeler, Doug believed, would offer a way for the company to stand out among the competition in Vancouver.  After spending a fair amount of time searching for an authentic paddlewheeler across Canada and the United States, they found one docked in Richmond.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Doug says. “After all this time looking everywhere, and we found just what we were looking for right here in the Lower Mainland.”

After acquiring the boat in May 1991, the Leaneys spent four months renovating the boat for its river cruises.  The result is the 100-passenger M.V. Native paddlewheeler.

We’ve been running this boat since 1992 – going on 24 years now – and it’s done a tremendous job and got us noticed,” he adds. “Though it was tough to get our business going and recognized when we first started 27 years ago – perhaps due to our location.  Back then, it was hard trying to reach visitors to come to New West from Vancouver.”

As a nearly 30-year veteran of New Westminster’s tourism industry, Doug points to a few key developments that helped propel tourism in the city.  One is the SkyTrain transit system, making the city more easily accessible to locals and visitors – especially from Vancouver’s downtown core.

Another key development, he says, is the creation of Tourism New Westminster.  “Along with the SkyTrain, the formation of Tourism New West also really helped – helped to propel our local tourism industry, and helped with marketing that we couldn’t afford to do on our own, that sort of thing.”

Over the past decade or so, the company itself has also made some major changes that include acquiring a 40-passenger catamaran (the M.V. Beta Star) taking visitors up to more remote parts of British Columbia, including Pitt Lake.  The company also acquired a pub license and does charters, dinner cruises and has even recently hired their own on-board chef to ensure quality ingredients and freshly-made cuisine.

When asked about New Westminster’s best-kept secret?  “We have two huge loves,” Doug says, “the Fraser River and New West – which is an incredible city that many people still haven’t seen or experienced.  So, I think it would definitely be the paddlewheeler cruises and the city, which our new bus tour helps people to explore and learn about.”

This year, adding to their ventures, the Leaneys started their own bus tour of New West to complement their river cruises.  The Royal City Historic Bus Tour kicked off in May this year and takes visitors around to the city’s lively Brewery District, the beautiful and historic turn-of-the-century mansions, the Discovery Centre on the New Westminster Quay and other highlights.

“This new tour is just another way for us to showcase the city – which is full of culture and history, especially as BC’s first capital,” Doug adds.  “We have an immense love for the river and for New Westminster and of the history that brings it all together.”

Fun fact:  Did you know that British Columbia is home to more than 19,000 tourism businesses?

Click here to learn more about Doug and Helga Leaney’s Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours.

June 2nd. 2016

It’s all Greek to Marlene Bujdos at Taverna Greka

By Sheliza Mitha

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Sitting along the waterfront overlooking the Fraser River is Taverna Greka, a culinary institution in downtown New Westminster over the past three decades.  In fact, the restaurant has repeatedly been voted the “Best Greek Restaurant” over the past 13 years by The Royal City Record newspaper.

This summer, the restaurant celebrates its 34th birthday with a special event on Sunday, June 12th during which 34 per cent will be taken off the entire bill as a way of saying thank you to all the patrons and supporters over the years.

Since the restaurant opened its doors on day one, Marlene Bujdos has been there to support the current owners Eleni and her daughters Koula and Lena.

Over the years, Marlene’s position at Taverna Greka has varied, though she has always – through it all – been a server, where she has the opportunity to be on the floor and engage with customers.

“This has been my second home for so long and for good reason,” Marlene says. “Over time, some of our regulars have become like family to me. This is especially true when it comes to Eleni, Koula and Lena as we’ve been together for so long.”

When Marlene first started working at Taverna Greka, she notes that Koula and Lena were only nine and six years old, respectively.  She has literally watched them grow up, and joined them in helping to grow the restaurant along the way.

While Taverna Greka has sat in the same location on Columbia Street over the past 34 years, the restaurant has undergone many transitions and upgrades resulting in a new, fresh and modern look with traditionally warm Greek hospitality.  In many ways, the same argument could be made for downtown New West, and its major transformation over the past few years.

Having spent more than three decades in the local tourism and hospitality industry, Marlene has witnessed many changes that have helped to improve the city’s offerings for locals and visitors.

“It’s always been busy here in downtown New West, especially at the restaurant – even in our early days,” she explains. “But what has really transformed New West is our previous mayor (Wayne Wright) who helped to create the new Pier Park and refurbish the quay and, by doing this, I think it’s really helped to put New West on the map.”

When she first started working at the restaurant, Marlene explains that she would look out from the restaurant’s terrace and see nothing but a dilapidated block with crumbling buildings. Nowadays, though, she likens her view of Pier Park to that of Vancouver’s Athlete’s Village with “a refreshing view of people and families going for walks, playing volleyball and just enjoying the great outdoor space.”

The area made such an impact on Marlene that she now prides herself on not only working in downtown New West, but also being a resident.

“We moved to New West about 10 years and live right by the quay, after convincing my husband this would be a good move – and it has been.  I can walk to work, and it’s just so pretty around here now. New West has become such a great place to live and work.”

When asked about New West’s best-kept secret, she adds, “I know it’s not such a secret anymore, but we really love Pier Park and the whole waterfront area – it’s just so peaceful and relaxing.  And, of course, there’s the Taverna Greka!”

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Fun fact: Did you know that globally, tourism accounts for one out of every 11 jobs?

Need more information about Taverna Greka?  Click here.  For information on all the things to do and see in the city, visit Tourism New Westminster.