Boardwalk rises and shines again after devastating 10-day fire

April 17, 2024
A new playground and pedestrian bridge, well-lit by high performance LED fixtures, restores Westminster Pier Park to a community gathering, play and connection space.

In September 2020, the picturesque city of New Westminster, near Vancouver in British Columbia, suffered a devastating setback. An intentionally set fire destroyed much of the city's waterfront park, including its urban beach, sand volleyball courts and iconic art installation known as Wow Westminster.

The fire, which burned for 10 days before firefighters could fully extinguish it, forever changed the look of Westminster Pier Park. Before the fire, the park had been a well-appreciated community asset. In December 2012, the park was recognized by an industrial design publication, Innovation, for its outstanding engineering, innovation and complexity. The park was uniquely constructed with equal parts built on land and water and supported by 3,600 pilings. It connected visitors to the Fraser River and, when combined with the Waterfront Esplanade Boardwalk, created a magnificent 1.5-mile waterfront park that included a 325-meter-long boardwalk, festival lawn, concessions, elevated viewpoints, trees, gardens, benches, accessible picnic tables, a basketball court, public art and play area.

Despite resident concerns that the park was permanently lost, the city’s mayor vowed that the park would reopen and continue to serve as a primary community gathering space. In April 2021, only seven months after the historic fire swept along the waterfront, Westminster Pier Park was resurrected with a new extensive pedestrian walkway and play area.

Creating a safe, warm environment at night

The city wanted to create a warm and safe nighttime environment to ensure maximum use of the pedestrian walkway and playground. The city worked with a team of companies to accomplish their goals. The team included Mac’s II Agencies, a lighting and electrical agency based in Coquitlam, BC, which was responsible for project design; Allwest Electric, an electrical contractor based in Port Coquitlam, BC; Nemetz (S/A) & Associates, Ltd., an electrical engineer from Vancouver; and Amerisis Lighting Corp, a lighting manufacturer/distributor in Pitt Meadows, BC. The team investigated many lighting options before developing a plan it felt provided the type of warmth and security that the city desired.

“Nemetz wanted precision-engineered fixtures that were designed for high visibility and could deliver very long all-weather runs to illuminate pathways at night and provide a safe environment,” said Chris Brams, sales manager for Mac’s II Agencies, a designer and provider of lighting and electrical products.

The team specified 100 custom 3000 K Pixel Bars manufactured by Acclaim Lighting. The fixtures are outdoor-rated, pixel-controllable, direct-view LED fixtures with a rounded or flat diffused lens. With an IP66 rating for wet locations, the fixtures have an internal 90 to 277 VAC auto-switching power supply. They are available in spectrum RGBW (W is 3000K), RGBA and dynamic white (2700 to 6000 K) with a 168° beam angle. Delivering 100 lumens per foot with a 70% lumen rating at 100,000 hours, the custom Pixel Bars will operate in temperatures from -40 to 122°F (-40 to 50°C) in high humidity environments.

“We found that the Pixel Bars were ideal for the exterior pathway application because of the seamless strips of light that allowed pedestrians to safely enjoy their walks or runs in almost any weather conditions on the waterfront,” Brams said.

Complementing the custom Pixel Bars on the pedestrian walkway were 4' diffused flat, RGBW 3000 K Pixel Bars were installed vertically in the wall underneath the handrails on the pedestrian bridge and ramp areas. These fixtures offered the same aesthetic and performance benefits as the custom fixtures.

To provide high-output lighting underneath the bridge near the playground, the lighting team specified 34 Dyna Drum SO DW, also from Acclaim Lighting. Each fixture provides more than 7700 lumens. The outdoor-rated LED flood fixtures have an adjustable yoke, an onboard digital display and an internal power supply. A built-in Aria wireless DMX system receiver provides for precise light direction and distribution, minimizing shadows and maximizing safety.

In addition, 12 Dyna Accent Minis were installed on the bridge’s underside and ramp aimed toward the park and play areas. The compact, high-power LED floodlights are designed to fit in the tightest spaces. They also have an internal power supply and onboard DMX+RDM driver, and each unit carries Acclaim’s Aria wireless DMX technology inside. The accent mini fixtures have a narrow 7° or 12° beam, with optional quick-change spread lenses for wider applications. Their low profile and high output were attractive features that made them suitable for the Westminster Pier Park playground.

“The combination of the lighting fixtures helped us achieve our goal of providing a conducive, safe environment so that all our residents and guests can again enjoy the award-winning Westminster Pier Park,” said Brams.

While the fire at Westminster Park destroyed the iconic art installation, Wow Westminster, along with some amenities like the sand volleyball courts and an urban beach, the rebuilt park again serves the community with a warm and welcoming connection of land, water, scenic overlooks, and play.

For more architectural lighting projects, products and news from LightSPEC, subscribe to our newsletters and follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, X and Facebook.

About the Author

Michael Giardina

Michael Giardina has spent nearly two decades at Acclaim Lighting, as a general manager, product manager and product specialist. His work, deeply rooted in a passion for technology, arts and design, involves leading product development, managing quality control and support teams, and ensuring innovative lighting solutions reach the market effectively.