July 23, 2017 9:01 pm
Updated: February 16, 2018 10:09 pm

New Westminster spent $200K on a stairway that leads to nowhere

Sun, Jul 23: It’s been dubbed the staircase to nowhere. Because of demolition of the Front Street parkade, the City of New Westminster built the structure as an emergency exit for a local building. But it cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and it’s still not known if it will ever be attached to the building. Kristen Robinson explains.

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Take a walk along Front Street in New Westminster, and you might come across a staircase that leads precisely nowhere.

It’s not an art project; it’s a stairway that was built to replace a fire exit for a heritage building, but that currently connects to nothing.

And it cost $200,000 to build, according to Chuck Puchmayr, a member of New Westminster city council.

Coverage of New Westminster on Globalnews.ca:

The city tore down part of a parkade on Front Street last year.

That move left the heritage building located at 649 Front Street, which was adjacent to the parkade, without a fire exit, New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote told Global News.

A stairway to nowhere in New Westminster.

Global News

By law, the city had to replace the fire exit for the building’s second and third floors. Enter the staircase.

But the staircase isn’t finished; there are concerns about wires that hang overhead, and city residents have complained that it’s “visually intrusive.”

So for now, it doesn’t connect to that building.

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Cote said the city agreed to look at whether there were any options to address any visual concerns about the stairs before they were hooked up.

He has not received an update from city staff about the matter.

In the meantime, a temporary staircase has been installed for the building on Columbia Street.

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But that hasn’t stopped some passersby from confusing the stairway to nowhere for an art installation.

“I thought it was an artwork but I don’t think it makes that much sense,” said Lawrence Kong.

“I think this needs to be rethought,” said Carlo Mangibin.

Puchmayr said the city is working with the building’s owner to see how the staircase can be modified, and how to restore the exits that originally existed there before the parkade was partially torn down.

The city has also looked at finding another location for them.

But is there any chance that the city will have ended up wasting $200,000 on these stairs?

“Not on my watch,” Puchmayr said.

  • With files from Kristen Robinson

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