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Fonds/Collection Description

Title New Westminster Parks, Culture, and Recreation Department fonds
Description Level Fonds
Fonds No. IH 2004.24
Creator New Westminster Parks and Recreation Department
Material Type architectural drawing
graphic material
textual record
Date Range 1927-2001
Title Source Title based on content of fonds.
Physical Description 1.5m of textual records
40 plans and drawings
8 photographs
History/Biographical In 1886, Queen’s Park was established. In his inaugural address of 1889, Mayor John Hendry set before Council the task of improving and beautifying the park so that it could become a place of recreation. Council immediately established a Park Committee. Following the City Engineer’s survey of the park, the City contracted out the work of clearing the grounds and building a pavilion. In the 1890s, the City hired a park ranger to maintain the grounds.

The Province of British Columbia enacted the New Westminster Parks Act in 1908, which granted the City of New Westminster four parks – Queen’s, New Westminster, Moody Square, and Tipperary Square Parks – to maintain and use for the enjoyment of the public. In 1927, the City passed a Park Commission by-law, which established the Board of Park Commissioners, consisting of three members who reported to Council. In its early days, the Board was largely responsible for park lands maintenance and approval of requests for use of parks for special events. Its operational functions quickly came to encompass:
| Park grounds and facilities maintenance, including such activities as gardening, tree pruning, care of boulevards, lighting, signage, and repair of buildings. Activities have often involved liaison with the Engineering and Planning Departments. | Recreation programs development, including sports and leisure education programs, playground activities, youth- and senior-oriented activities, safety programs, and facilitation of special events in co-operation with various organizations. | Park planning, including the identification, proposal, and development of new park lands; construction of new facilities or additions (e.g. swimming pools, arenas, tennis courts, and band shells); and long-range planning and service model development for programs, facilities, and lands.

In addition to the obvious routine tasks, administrative functions have included the hiring of grounds keepers, caretakers, and program staff; annual proposal of parks and facility fees and charges; and introduction of parks and recreation policy and by-laws, particularly relating to behaviour on park property.

In 1933, the Board appointed its first Parks Superintendent, responsible for overseeing the development, maintenance, and care of park properties. The 1930s also saw the construction of the Arenex at Queen’s Park, used primarily for sporting events, recreation programs, and banquets and dances (1938). The Board gained more authority in parks development when, in 1939, City Council amended the Parks Act so that the construction of buildings within parks required Board approval and consent.

During the early 1940s, the City entered a lease agreement with the Department of National Defence, and military units occupied areas of Queen’s Park for the term of World War II. The Board also made its Arenex available to the BC Security Commission for temporary housing of large numbers of Japanese Canadians, prior to their relocation throughout Canada.

The 1950s and 1960s was a period of expansion for recreation programs. The Board appointed a Recreation Director and a Recreational Planning Commission in the mid-1950s. The Commission, which reported directly to City Council, consisted of nine members representing a range of public interests, and had supervisory responsibility over activities in parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, swimming facilities, and indoor centres. The Commission recommended improvements to recreational facilities in 1957, with an emphasis on public swimming pools. As part of the BC Centennial projects, the Board oversaw the building of Century House, a seniors’ complex located in Moody Park.

In 1958, the Board of Park Commissioners was disbanded and replaced temporarily by a Park Committee made up of City Councillors. This committee amalgamated with the Recreation Commission in January 1960 to form a joint Parks and Recreation Committee, and Parks and Recreation became its own department within the City’s administrative structure.

In 1965, the position of Superintendent – which had been in place for over 30 years – was eliminated and responsibilities were subsumed under the position of Parks Director. At the same time, the position of Program Director was also introduced. This period saw the opening of a Children’s Zoo in Queen’s Park (1966) and the construction of the Centennial Community Centre and Centennial Lodge (1967).

In 1973, the City of New Westminster hosted the Canada Summer Games, and in preparation for this event, the Parks and Recreation Department built the Canada Games Pool. The Moody Park Arena was constructed two years later.

During the 1980s, the Department increased the number of leisure services for disabled persons, and improved accessibility of facilities to all citizens. As well, in co-operation with the Health and Social Planning Committee, it commissioned a report on the use of pesticides and herbicides (1982), and agreed to the report’s recommendations to monitor and reduce use of these substances in the parks. Also during this decade, the Department opened a new Arts Centre in Centennial Lodge (1985) and completed the development of Quayside Park (1989).

Throughout the 1990s, the Department focused on improving programs for youth, developing a youth services delivery model in 1995. It also worked co-operatively with the Greater Vancouver Regional District to improve services for bicycle commuters in the Lower Mainland. Also along the lines of environmental protection, the Department championed the introduction and communication of a new tree by-law for the protection of trees during redevelopment of lands throughout the City.

A small administrative restructuring in 1998 combined the roles of Parks Director and Recreation Director into one office. Reporting to this office are the Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation; Building Management Coordinator; Manager, Business Operations; Parks Horticulture Manager; and Parks Maintenance Manager.
Acquisition Source These records were transferred to the New Westminster Museum and Archives by the City on June 15, 2004.
Scope & Content Fonds consists of five record series: Parks and Recreation Committee meeting minutes (1927-1998), financial records (1953-1968), parks photographs (1909-1954), plans and drawings (1934-2001), and news clippings and memorabilia (1968-1983).
Finding Aids Finding aid available
Accession No. IH 2004.24
Name Access Parks and Recreation Department
Board of Park Commissioners
Recreation Commission
Parks and Recreation Committee
Subject Access Municipal Services
Wars - World War, 1939-1945