Metro Vancouver Festival of Lights

Over the Christmas season that recently ended we visited the light displays around Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake, the Burnaby Village Museum, and the Festival of Lights at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens.

Festival of Lights
Lafarge Lake Lights

This year’s free light display at Lafarge Lake is even bigger and more beautiful than previous years because the display now goes all the way around the lake. It is lovely to walk around the lake and see the light displays.

festival of lights
Lafarge Lake Lights

My kids’ favourite part of the walk was the gnomes in the little mining tunnel near the south end of the lake. However, they were quite aghast to see one of the miners in the tunnel smoking a pipe.

Another important consideration before visiting the Lafarge Lake festival of lights – there are no public washrooms around the lake and the Evergreen Cultural Centre is often closed in the evening – plan accordingly.

festival of lights
Burnaby Village Museum

The Burnaby Village Museum is another free festival of lights definitely worth visiting. Sure there are lots of lights at the display but the really cool thing is the old-fashioned village that you can wander through. It feels like you have traveled back in time to a sweet old village; especially when the kids get to visit with an old-world Father Christmas.

festival of lights
Burnaby Village Museum

Of course the carousel at the Burnaby Village Museum is also an incredibly popular attraction for the young and not-so young. My kids love riding the carousel and are filled with joy, especially if they get their favourite horse on the carousel.

Van Dusen Festival of Lights
Van Dusen Festival of Lights

And then on the first day of this new year I went with my family to the Festival of Lights at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. The light display at Van Dusen is beyond compare. So many lights! It really is a marvel.

Van Dusen Festival of Lights
Van Dusen Festival of Lights

The light displays at the Van Dusen Gardens – simply put – spectacular. And they go on and on and on!! You can wander from one garden zone to another and each is decorated in its own beautiful and unique way.

Similar to the Burnaby Village Museum, at the Van Dusen Festival of Lights there was a carousel, but honestly, this was the one way that the Burnaby Village Museum event was superior. It is tough to top the carousel at the BVM, especially seeing as the BVM carousel is inside whereas the Van Dusen carousel is outside – and it was really cold on the evening we visited!!

Other pluses for the Van Dusen Festival of Lights – they have multiple warming stations located around the gardens, washroom facilities AND food trucks!

My favourite food truck at the festival was the Potato Tornado Shack. They spiralize a potato, skewer it onto a wooden stick, dip it into batter, and then deep fry it to a wonderfully soft condition … pure deliciousness.

They also serve poutine (with a vegan gravy) and smoked meat sandwiches. I sampled a small piece of the smoked meat and I can assure you, I will be tracking down the Potato Tornado Shack

To wrap it all up, like this Christmas season has been wrapped up, Coquitlam and Burnaby light festivals are both free. The Festival of Lights at Van Dusen cost $17.50 per adult and $10 per child 3-12 years of age.

Disclosure; I did not pay for my family’s tickets to the Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens because I won the tickets in a contest/giveaway hosted by Raincity Mama on her blog Raincity Parent.


Draft Metrotown Downtown Plan Overview

The City of Burnaby is undertaking a community planning process to update the community plan for the Metrotown neighbourhood.

The intent of the updated Plan is to establish Metrotown as Burnaby’s Downtown, made up of distinctive neighbourhoods that embrace and celebrate its people, community, diversity, mix of uses, character, architecture, urban form, and public realm. The vision of the Plan is to create an exciting, inclusive, and sustainable downtown.

As the first of Burnaby’s four Town Centres to take shape, and as one of the Region’s City Centres, Metrotown has functioned for decades as Burnaby’s downtown. This new Plan provides the opportunity to establish Metrotown as Burnaby’s official downtown, where the City’s highest concentration and mix of office, retail, residential, and amenities are to be located. Through this Plan a new identity is sought, based on distinct neighbourhoods that reflect the community and their surrounding context.

The first phase of public input on the preliminary vision, principles, and land use framework was completed on August 31, 2016. The Draft Metrotown Downtown Plan was prepared and built upon the public input received in Phase 1.

Metrotown Neighbourhood
Metrotown Neighbourhood

On November 21, 2016, Burnaby City Council endorsed the Draft Metrotown Downtown Plan as a basis for undertaking a second phase of public input.

The second phase of the public input process will contribute to the finalization of the Metrotown Downtown Plan for Council’s consideration.

The Draft Plan, public input survey, and background materials can be viewed online. (This is a 159 page document that provides loads of detail into the changes that are proposed for the Metrotown community).

If you want to meet with representatives from the City of Burnaby, there will be drop-in Plan Review Sessions throughout Burnaby. The dates and locations are as follows:

January 10 from 4-8 pm at the Cameron Library, 9523 Cameron St.

January 12 from 4 – 8pm at the Tommy Douglas Library, 7311 Kingsway

January 16 from 4 – 8pm at the Bob Prittie Library, 6100 Willingdon Ave

and January 19 from 3 – 7pm in Burnaby City Hall, 4949 Canada Way

If you want to know more or have your say on the revised community plan for the Metrotown neighbourhood, get to one of the meetings listed above.


No Skating on Park Lakes and Ponds

 Despite the extended sub-zero temperatures, lakes and ponds around Metro Vancouver are not safe for outdoor skating.

During the winter season, and in particular during sub-zero temperatures, City Parks staff measure and monitor the thickness of the ice in City parks.

At this time they have deemed that, despite the prolonged cold weather, the ice is not currently thick enough to safely support people or animals.

Consequently, residents and visitors are cautioned that the ice is not thick enough to permit skating, walking or cycling on lake surfaces. Signage to this effect is posted by many of the lakes.

A Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

As they do every Christmas season, the folks at Burnaby Village Museum have once again prepared the site for a delightful heritage holiday season with lots of old-fashioned fun and spectacular lights.


Starting on December 10 until January 2, 2017, every night is a “late night” at Heritage Christmas for you to explore the bright and dazzling lights amid the night sky. The Village will be open from 1-9pm daily (closed on December 24 & 25).

You can Stroll the Village and check out the dazzling displays, special entertainment, colourful street characters, theatre performances and much, much more.

The refreshed Twelve Days of Christmas scavenger hunt is a great way to explore the Village and the stunning new West Coast Christmas display… already trending to be the most photographed!

While at Burnaby Village Museum you can take a whirl on the old-fashioned Carousel. If you there on December 10th, and you ride the Carousel all proceeds from your ride tickets purchased from 5-9pm are donated to the Burnaby Christmas Bureau.

Come out to ride the Carousel and support a wonderful cause, and have some fun! (Hint: A Baker’s Dozen – 13 ride tokens for the price of 12 – makes a great stocking stuffer! Not all ride tickets need to be used that night.

And finally, how cool is this idea – you can have a Turkey Dinner, with all the trimmings – at the charming Ice Cream Parlour, located right in the heart of the Village. This special Turkey Dinner is available from December 10-22, 4-8pm for only $20 (plus taxes). The best part? No cooking, clean-up or reservations are needed.

Join in the fun, and help capture the spirit of the season during your visit to the Village. How? Simply tag your photos with the hashtag #BurnabyChristmasSpirit when you’re posting to either Twitter or Instagram.

  • Burnaby Village Museum is located at 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby,
  • Gate admission is free | Carousel rides are $2.60 each

Festive Activities at Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake

This year’s Winter Lights Display at Lafarge Lake is bigger and brighter than ever before! You can join in the magic this season by taking part in festive activities including caroling, scavenger hunts, tulip and lantern workshops, and hot chocolate nights.

New this year, Coquitlam’s Park Spark team – including volunteers and local businesses – will be on site to welcome visitors, provide walking route information, and enhance the park visitor experience through interactive activities.

 Hosts will be stationed at a Welcome Tent on the east side of Lafarge Lake, near the Town Centre Park Plaza, from 6-8 p.m. on varying nights each week (Visit for updates). 

Activities will include:

  • Tulip Workshop: Community members are invited to participate in the Lafarge Lake Winter Lights Display by creating a “pop bottle” tulip. This year, tulips will be installed at the south end of the lake within the Woodland Garden display. 
  • Dogtopia Night: Bring your dog for an evening stroll to take in the lights. Drop in at the Welcome Tent at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 to enter your pet into the most festively dressed dog competition.
  • Scavenger Hunts: Pick up your scavenger hunt cards at the Welcome tent to take part in this fun activity leading participants on a 1.2-kilometre loop around the lake, through 10 themed areas on Monday, Dec. 5, Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 10.
  • Lantern Workshops: Park visitors will be invited to make a lantern, which will be added to the light display along the east side of the lake. 
  • Search for Sparky: Keep an eye out for our Park Spark mascot, Sparky, who will be somewhere along the display on Friday, Dec. 16 from 6-8 p.m. Find him to receive a treat!
  • Caroling: Join us in song for fun caroling nights in the park.
  • Jingle Bell Night: Get into the festive spirit on Wednesday , Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. with group caroling and free hot chocolate. 

All activities take place rain or shine. Dates and times will be publicized in advance online at and through the City’s social media channels.

Lafarge Lake is located in Town Centre Park (1299 Pinetree Way) and can also be accessed from the Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station. Parking is available throughout Town Centre Park off of Trevor Wingrove Way.

Evergreen Extension Leads to Parking Rule Changes

In preparation for the Dec. 2 opening of SkyTrain’s Evergreen Extension, the City of Coquitlam is introducing new parking options for commuters, which includes hundreds of new Park and Ride parking spots throughout Coquitlam’s City Centre.


The City is also implementing new parking regulations – including timed parking restrictions and paid parking – to ensure visitors and customers can still access parking for residential areas, local businesses, and civic centres.

Wherever possible, commuters are encouraged to use other transit options to connect to the SkyTrain.

City Centre parking options, which include timed parking restrictions within 400 metres of the Lafarge Lake-Douglas, Lincoln and Coquitlam Central stations, take effect on Dec. 1. Parking changes around the Burquitlam and Lougheed Stations come into effect Dec. 5.

New parking signage will help guide commuters in understanding the parking regulations and identifying Park and Ride locations. This information, including an FAQ and parking maps, is also available online at

On-street parking is a shared public asset for neighbourhoods. Time limits are used to encourage turnover of this communal parking and prevent long-term parking so that patrons, visitors and service providers can use the street parking to access businesses, civic facilities, public parks, and residences.

The parking regulations will be in effect Monday to Saturday. As posted, they will typically only be in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., which allows for overnight street parking for residents and their guests. Time and pay regulations are also not in effect on Sundays or statutory holidays.

The following highlights some of the parking changes that will be implemented:

Time restrictions will include:

  • Commercial frontages – Typically two to four hours on-street pay parking.
  • Recreational frontages – Typically four hour time-limited or pay parking.
  • Higher density residential frontages – Typically two to four hour time-limited parking.
  • Mixed commercial/residential frontages – Typically two to four hour on-street pay parking.
  • Civic/Institutional frontages – Typically two to four hour on-street pay parking.
  • Designated on-street Park and Ride stalls and City-owned Park and Ride lots will cost 75 cents – $1.00 per hour, capping out at a maximum of $3.75 per day.

Three Park and Ride options will be available in Coquitlam. These include:

  • A new City-owned Park and Ride lot at the southeast intersection of Pinetree Way and Guildford Way (due to open mid-December), with approximately 100 stalls in the lot, and a further 50+ designated Park and Ride stalls on the adjacent streets (for Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station). This lot and the designated Park and Ride on-street parking stalls cost 75 cents an hour and a daily maximum of $3.75. Parking is free on Sundays.
  • The City-owned Lincoln Park and Ride lot, at the northwest corner of Lincoln Ave. and Westwood St., with approximately 100 stalls (nearest Lincoln Station). This lot has a fee of 75 cents an hour and a daily maximum fee of $3.75. Parking is free on Sundays.
  • Coquitlam Central Station, 2920 Barnet Highway (at Lougheed), with more than 1,000 stalls (for Coquitlam Central SkyTrain and West Coast Express stations). This lot is owned and operated by TransLink; it includes approximately 350 new stalls added next to Rona. Fees for parking at this lot are $3/day and are in effect seven days a week.

At this time there is no Park and Ride facility in close proximity to the Burquitlam Station. The City of Coquitlam is working with the YMCA and other potential partners in this area to explore opportunities that could facilitate future Park and Ride amenities.

Parking on streets and in the existing Park and Ride facilities will be monitored by City staff, who will assess parking changes over the next six months to evaluate whether further adjustments are required.

For more information:

  • View the regulations and parking options, including maps and FAQs, at and at
  • To address questions or concerns regarding neighbourhood parking, contact the City of Coquitlam’s Transportation Division at
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest information and updates – including the opening day for the Park and Ride lot at Pinetree Way and Guildford Way – by subscribing to the Parking Management Strategy listserve or following the City of Coquitlam on social media.
  • To plan your commute, including bus connections, use TransLink’s Trip Planner at to help you map out your route.

More Open Houses for Brunette Interchange Proposed Upgrade

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is holding two additional open houses regarding the future Brunette Interchange on Highway 1.

The information at the open houses will be the same information that was presented at the first two open houses held on this project in early November.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the open houses scheduled for:

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016:
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sapperton Pensioners Hall
318 Keary St.
New Westminster

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Gymnasium, Maillard Middle school
1300 Rochester Ave.

There are three design options for the future interchange, which will be presented at the open houses.

  • Option A: Brunette Interchange with Separate Municipal Connections and United Blvd. Connection:
    • The main crossing of Highway 1 is separated into two corridors – a two-lane corridor for local traffic and a four-lane corridor for regional and provincial traffic.
  • Option B: Blue Mountain Interchange with United Blvd. Connection:
    • This option extends Blue Mountain St. over Highway 1 to United Blvd. Interchanges become the main access to Highway 1.
  • Option C: Blue Mountain Interchange with Braid Industrial Area Connector:
    • The direct connection between United Blvd. and Brunette is replaced by a two-lane connection from Blue Mountain St. to Columbia St. via a new connector with a two-lane tunnel under the rail lines and Brunette River.

The project team will be present to answer questions. There will also be display boards with more information on the project.

To learn more, or to provide feedback online, please visit the project website:

Open House to Explore Brunette Interchange Options

Although there are some people who live in New Westminster who would rather have all links from neighbouring communities completely severed, that doesn’t appear to be one of the options being considered by BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Brunette Interchange
Brunette Interchange

There will be two open houses at which the public’s feedback regarding the future Brunette Interchange on Highway 1 will be “heard”.

A third open house will be scheduled for later in the year to give the public additional time to review the designs and ask ministry staff questions.

There are three design options for the future interchange, which will be presented at the open houses.

Option A: Brunette Interchange with Separate Municipal Connections and United Blvd. Connection – The main crossing of Highway 1 is separated into two corridors – a two- lane corridor for local traffic and a four-lane corridor for regional and provincial traffic.

Option B: Blue Mountain Interchange with United Blvd. Connection – This option extends Blue Mountain St. over Highway 1 to United Blvd. Interchanges become the main access to Highway 1.

Option C: Blue Mountain Interchange with Braid Industrial Area Connector – The direct connection between United Blvd. and Brunette is replaced by a two-lane connection from Blue Mountain St. to Columbia St. via a new connector with a two lane tunnel under the rail lines and Brunette River.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the open houses scheduled for:

  • First open house: Wednesday, Nov. 2, at Maillard Middle school, 1300 Rochester Ave, Coquitlam from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Second open house: Thursday, Nov. 3, at Sapperton Pensioners Hall, 318 Keary St., New Westminster from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Third open house: Early December. The ministry will provide details on the third open house once it has been scheduled.

Ministry staff will be on hand to answer questions.

In addition, the B.C. government has launched a new public engagement website, for people to learn more information about the project and to provide feedback online. To go to the new website, click here:

Riverfest at the Fraser River Discovery Centre

The Fraser River Discovery Centre is pleased to announce the return of its annual RiverFest, Metro Vancouver’s biggest celebration of the environmental, economic and socio-cultural importance of the Fraser River. Riverfest will run from September 22 – 24th at the New Westminster Quay.

Presented this year by Port of Vancouver, RiverFest 2016 will open with the Canadian premiere of YAKONA, BC Director Paul Collins’ multi-award winning film about Texas’s San Marcos River and its relationship with the world around it.

“We are really looking forward to this year’s festival, which attracts over 10,000 visitors to the Westminster Quay,” said Fraser River Discovery Centre (FRDC) Interim-Executive Director Stephen Bruyneel. “Adding to the excitement is our opening night event – the Canadian premier of BC Director Paul Collins’ stunning film YAKONA.”

YAKONA follows the San Marcos River from source to sea, through the changing seasons, interpreting the river’s time and memory and documenting this relationship between the natural world and man. The film has won five major international awards since its release, including the coveted SXSW Visions Audience Award at its World Premiere in Austin TX.   

“While YAKONA focuses on the San Marcos River, it can be seen as a metaphor for rivers all around the world,” added Bruyneel. “It serves as a reminder that rivers must be shared and cared for by all users as a tribute to those who came before, and those who have yet to experience their glory.

RiverFest 2016 will continue on Friday night with the annual *click* photos of the fraser exhibit, which brings together an assortment of perspectives of the Fraser River from the Rocky Mountains to the Salish Sea. Each year a new selection of photographs is unveiled on a different theme, which this year is “Time”.

RiverFest is always one of the region’s premier events, both because of its family-focus and due to the fact it is held in conjunction with BC and World Rivers Day,” concluded Bruyneel. “The Fraser River is an economic, environmental and social icon for the Lower Mainland, British Columbia and all of Canada and we invite everyone to join us in celebrating our mighty river!” 

RiverFest 2016 concludes on Saturday with its signature outdoor festival, which includes music, food, activities and the famous Lucille Johnstone Work Boat Parade.

Burnaby Art Gallery; Public Library Offsite Exhibitions

The Burnaby Art Gallery (BAG) presents two summer exhibitions at public libraries featuring works on paper by local artists who have strong connections to the Malaspina Printmakers Society.

Salme Kaljur Marina
Salme Kaljur Marina

These Burnaby Art Gallery Offsite Exhibitions present a selection of prints from the Malaspina Printshop Archives, a compendium of all works created at the print shop between 1977 and 1982.

Matrix: Perspectives from the Malaspina Archive (1979-1982) is a retrospective of works by women artists from the society. The exhibition runs from July 11 – September 18, 2016 at the Bob Prittie Library (located at 6100 Willingdon Avenue, Burnaby).

In printmaking, the matrix is the surface upon which the artist creates a print design. The matrix – be it a metal plate, a wood or linoleum block or a lithographic stone—is inked to make an impression on a sheet of paper by pressing it by hand or through a printing press.

As the foundation for the art form itself, the matrix is thus the basis for the experimental printmaking taking place at Malaspina in the 1970s and ’80s. The term “matrix” comes from the Latin m?tr?x, meaning “uterus” or “womb,” and is derived from m?ter, meaning “mother,” making the matrilineage of the word clear.

This exhibition brings together the art of female printmakers working at the Malaspina Printmakers Society between what were the turbulent years of 1979 and 1982. Further looking, analysis and questioning of these works of art in relation to the larger art historical, social and political concepts of the time ultimately make the gender of the artists irrelevant.

Across town in the McGill Library (located at 4595 Albert Street, Burnaby) is a solo show of new and past work by Bowen Island printmaker Marty Levenson. The Levenson exhibition is on from July 12 – September 19, 2016.

Marty Levenson’s exhibit, Now and Then, features four coloured etchings and a mixed media composition printed at Malaspina in the early 1980s together with recently created monoprints. Most of these newer prints reference the garden maintained by Levenson’s wife, Jacquie. The three works from the series entitled History into Nature were inspired by the writings of Roland Barthes. Levenson’s more recent monoprints appear courtesy of the artist.

Still a member of Malaspina, Levenson now does his printing at his home studio on Bowen Island and maintains a studio in Vancouver for his registered art therapy practice.

Both exhibitions use the City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection’s Malaspina Printshop Archive as a base for investigating printmaking activities in the early days of the organization. The archive was gifted by Milton and Fei Wong in 1988.