Life in New Westminster for Immigrants – Pros and Cons

Don’t relocate to New Westminster without knowing a thing or two about the city. Read this article to get insider information.

Metro Vancouver has a lot of great cities, the most popular of which is Vancouver itself. Along the Lower Mainland, is a few particularly striking cities; Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Moody, New Westminster, etc.

In this article, we intend to discuss with you the ups and downs of life in New Westminster for immigrants.

After reading this, you should get a clearer picture of the city; you will know what to expect from it and hence, make more informed decisions about living in New Westminster.

Where is New Westminster

New Westminster (popularly referred to by the locals as ‘New West’), is a city in the Lower Mainlands of the regional district; Greater Vancouver (or Metro Vancouver). The city is one of the oldest in the British Colombia province, and is one of the most prominent as well, having been the provincial capital at one point.

The city is bordered by Burnaby and Coquitlam to the northwest and northeast respectively. Most of the southern border is along the shores of the Fraser River; that is, save a part of the city located across the Fraser River, sharing a border with Richmond. Across the river from the southern shores are the municipalities of Surrey and Delta.

Rich in cultural heritage, New Westminster has some much of its environment reflecting antique housing styles. Most of these house owners choose not to modernise, therefore the city has a different look from most ones you’ve probably been to.

Population of New Westminster

In its early days, New Westminster was populated by the Qayqayt First Nation. They discovered the gold there and were there to receive the Royal Engineers, Colombia Detachment with Richard Clement Moody leading them. Since then, however, the population has grown far beyond just first nation inhabitants to become a strongly multicultural city.

According to the last census conducted in 2016, New Westminster has a population of about 71,000 citizens. This number majorly consists of European immigrants and 3rd generation immigrants of European descent. The Europeans take about 60% of the population, the Asians take about 34.9%, the black population is about 2.5%, various minorities, 1.5%, and finally, the Aboriginal population (First Nations, Inuit, Metis) take the rest.

Furthermore, English is the most popular language in this city, with about 63% of the population identifying as native English speakers. A lot more than this however, claim to have at least minimal knowledge of English language. Other languages spoken in the city in significant numbers include; Mandarin, Russian, French, Spanish, Romanian, etc.

Finally, various religious groups also identify within this city. The most prominent of those is Christianity; having about 49% of the population. Second to that is those with no religious affiliation; about 40% identify with this group. Other religions here include; Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.

Weather in New Westminster

New Westminster has slightly fair climate conditions; one of the pros of living in the city. However, this weather is only considered slight by Canadian standards. They usually have temperature ranges between 13 degrees Celsius and 24 degrees Celsius during the summer. However, during the winter, the temperature drops to the range of 1 degree Celsius to 6 degrees Celsius.

They usually have warm summers and cold, snowy winters. If you’re going to live in New Westminster, you might want to get warm clothes ready for the holiday season.

Commerce in New Westminster

Commerce in New Westminster has taken a whole lot of turns since the 19th century. From the discovery and mining of gold, and its establishment as capital, the city became a centre for trade. The presence of the Fraser River and its ports too did help; an advantage which was boosted in 1886 when a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) branch line was commissioned in the city. When that advantaged waned due to the presence of the Vancouver port which was more accessible, the city had to fall back to old resources.

The New Westminster industry had to go through Lumber and fishing, to manufacturing and heavy industry, retail and business services, and finally; fibre-optic industry.

Cost of Living in New Westminster

One of the downsides to living in New Westminster is the (relatively) high cost of living. The cost of housing here is less than Vancouver and some other surrounding cities. However, it is still significantly high compared to Canada as a whole. In a city such as this, minimum wage earners may not be able to survive. Before moving to New Westminster, you might want to consult financial and real estate specialists to be sure it’s the right move to make.

Schools in New Westminster

The schooling system in New Westminster is operated by the “School District 40 New Westminster’; a body that oversees and governs the operations of educational institutions in New Westminster. They oversee one public high school in the city, three middle schools and ten elementary schools.

There is no conventional public institution of higher learning located within the city. However, there are campuses from Douglas College and West Coast College of Massage Therapy (WCCMT). Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine (BINM) is also located in New Westminster, offering degrees in Naturopathic Medicine.

Some other educational institutions in the city include;

  • Justice Institute of British Colombia
  • Winston College
  • Sprott Shaw College

Transit in New Westminster

The industrial part of New Westminster is downtown, away from the residential area. Hence, good knowledge of transit options is a very important part of life in New Westminster for immigrants. There are two major transit options in this city. They are;

Rail

This consists of 5 SkyTrain stations. Most of these are easily accessed from the residential area either on foot or after a short drive/bus ride. Train rides from here downtown are usually 40 minutes or less. Unlike in some other places, most citizens of New Westminster aren’t used to long transits to work; therefore, it is considered wiser around here to get a house, condo, or apartment close to one of the train stations.

Through the Columbia station, you can get to either Surrey or Burnaby. New Westminster provides these rail exits for its citizens who don’t work within the city.

Road

New Westminster, like some of its landowners, stuck to the original design made by the Royal Engineers when they came with Richard Clement Moody behind them. The road network remains the way it was even back then.

Public transit service via road is provided in New Westminster by a company known as TransLink. The main problem with road transport in this city is the rate of traffic congestions in the mornings, especially at Patullo Bridge. The reason for this is the number of citizens who leave every day for work in other surrounding cities or even downtown in New Westminster.

This recurring traffic is another one of the cons to life in New Westminster for immigrants.

New Westminster Media

New Westminster, being is served mostly by the same media services that serve surrounding cities in Metro Vancouver. However, they still have some newspaper and magazine services local to them. One of such services is the New Westminster record; a product of the Glacier Media chain. They keep the citizens abreast with information on happenings around the city, and the nation at large.

The Piffle, on the other hand, provides sport news, comedy, and other forms of news as well, and has served New Westminster for well over a decade.

Life in North Vancouver for Immigrants

Fun Things to do in New Westminster

It’s also possible you came to New West for the sightseeing, not necessarily to live there permanently. If that’s the case, then you probably want to know some of the most famous spots to go chill out and have fun when in the city. We’ve got you covered.

Nightlife/Dining out in Coquitlam – Popular Spots

In New West, people like to go clubbing or hang out at pubs in the evening to have a little fun. Nothing could beat some guy sharing stories of things that probably never happened, or that little joke someone might say that’ll make your day. Here are some of the fun nightlife spots in New West, BC.

  • Elk’s Club of New Westminster
  • The Thirsty Duck’s Pub
  • Sapperton District Taphouse
  • The Columbia
  • Met Bar and Grill

Besides clubbing and pubbing, you could also choose to go for a nice dinner in some really cool restaurant. Here are some of the bests in the city.

  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • El Santo
  • Piva Modern Italian
  • Sixth Street Grill
  • Pastara Thai

Libraries

There are two main libraries that serve the city of New Westminster;

  • New Westminster Public Library
  • Courthouse Libraries

New Westminster Tourist Attractions

Here are some tourist attractions in New West that might interest you;

  • House of Comedy
  • Massey Theatre
  • Queens Park
  • Paddle-wheeler Riverboat Tours
  • Westminster Quay

Immigrating to New Westminster

Immigrating to New Westminster is made easy via the British Colombia Provincial Nominee Program. The BCPNP is a program operated by the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) in harmony with Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement (CBCIA).

Through this program therefore, people who meet certain qualifications can easily process their Canada visa with as little hassle as possible.

Conclusion

New Westminster is definitely a choice you should consider if you ever wish to move to the Lower Mainlands. However, it is important you do the math and ensure you can shoulder the financial responsibility. If you’re only going there for vacation/relaxion, the city still has enough for you to enjoy yourself for the period of your stay.