Last year, New Westminster resident, pedestrian, and rabble-rouser Mary Wilson brought Jane’s Walks to New Westminster, to great success.
This year, despite her continued reluctance to do all that Social Media stuff, she once again drew together a team of people to put on a variety of interesting walks.
As a summary, I will quote myself from last year plagiarizing the press release:
“Jane’s Walks are becoming a global event, held in hundreds of cities around the world on the first weekend in May. Around the world, neighbourhood groups organize free community walks to honour the memory of Jane Jacobs.
Jane Jacobs is considered by many to be the Mother of modern Urbanism, in that she brought it to life, loved and supported it, and worked tirelessly to give it all the tools it needed to prosper. She rose to prominence for her activism to protect Greenwich Village from the Lower Manhattan Expressway proposal, and her ground-breaking book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She moved to Toronto during the Vietnam War, and brought her Urban Activism with her, such that she received first Citizenship, then the Order of Canada. To put a local angle on her story, Jacobs is sometimes referred to a founder of Vancouverism for the influence her writings and research had on the development of the urban character of post-freeway Vancouver, built on the belief that density can be done without compromising liveability.
Jane’s Walks are meant to honour Jane, but also to honour her desire: that cities and urban areas become safe, diverse, and interesting places for people to live, work, and play. We honour this by drawing urban neighbours together to take a walk through their own city, not to get from A to B, but to have a ‘walking conversation’, meet neighbours, learn something new about their own backyard, and ultimately increase citizens’ connection to their urban home.”
I hope to attend a few walks this weekend, but I want to highlight two:
On Saturday evening, I will be joining many of the NEXT New West crowd for a bit of fun, combining Jane’s Walk with the SkyTrain with a good old fashioned Pub Crawl. We will start in Sapperton and use our feet and the SkyTrain to make several stops in local food and drink establishments, at Sapperton, at both ends of Downtown, and then (in an interesting twist!) taking the Starlight Shuttle from 22nd Street Station to the Casino, where there will be live music, dancing, and general merriment.
Sunday will have a different feel, as I am walking with members of the New Westminster Environmental Partners, Get On Board BC, and a few noted local historians, tracing the route of the old BC Electric streetcar line through Queens Park and Downtown. It seem unlikely to us now, but yes, electric trains used to travel along Third Avenue and such places, through the residential heart of our City. It was part of a system that connected Downtown Vancouver to Chilliwack and Steveston (proof exists in the few spots where the old rails still emerge from the asphalt). Along the way, we will talk about what was, what was lost, and what might be possible in the future, with our regional transportation system.
Should be fun! Rain or shine! Come and meet some neighbours and learn a bit about your City! Make Jane proud!
Oh, and if trains and pubs aren’t your thing, there are at least 10 other walks going on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – you really should get the family out for at least to one! They are free, run by volunteers, and you never know what you might learn.
All the info is here: Jane’s Walk New Westminster)