New Westminster gets a little drier

The old brewery

What you see in this photo is the old Labatt’s Brewery at Columbia and Brunette in New Westminster, which is currently under destruction.

The Royal City Record has a great article detailing the history of the brewery: beer has been made on this site since 1890, which is a pretty good run.

This photo was taken April 21st; as of today the brick building on the left is gone, and the shell of the building on the right is all that remains. Workers were torching some big wedge-shaped cuts into the supports on that one, so I suspect it will go down within the next few days.

What I remember from five years of commuting past this site on my bike is the distinctive brewing-beer smell: it was a heady, bready aroma which I loved, and which probably drove new residents in the area crazy for two weeks before they stopped noticing it. The other thing is that there’s a beautiful wrought-iron gate on the North side of the property. It’s close to ten feet tall, a double gate wide enough to pass a car, and ornately detailed. From its ceremonial position there, I suspect it dates back pretty far. No word on what its fate is, but I think it is still there right now.

The Record article says there are no plans for the site yet, but in this part of Sapperton the guess has to be condos or high-rises. It’s close to the Sapperton Skytrain station (I took the shot from the train, as you may have guessed), so in this market maybe you should get down your deposit now.

9 Comments so far

  1. miss604 (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    i wrote about this a while ago too – it’s strange to see this thing gone …and no longer drive by looking up to catch the time on the side of the building (usually 12 minutes off anyway :p)

    According to my sources who take up shop in Sapperton – there are condos going in there on the south side but the part closest to the Royal Columbian will be used/developed by the hospital.

  2. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

    I assure you the copycat post was pure coincidence, but I guess that leads me to the shabby admission that I don’t regularly read your blog :(.

    I guess it’s a dumb thing to be surprised by, but the size of the production/storage/whatever tanks is amazing. They’ve been coming out of the building one at a time, and you can see them (big silver barrels) off to the right in this photo. In the large size of the photo, you can see the tiny blue porta-potty beside them, which gives you a sense of the scale.

    These were not the only tanks that were there, either.

  3. miss604 (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 1:21 pm

    no worries about the not-reading of my blog *sigh*, as long as we learn from our mistakes… :p

    that area totally needs some development though. sapperton was becoming the whalley of new west – but with 3-4 condo developments currently underway in that area alone, there’s hope.

    (and i can say that about whalley cause i used to live in surrey… so…ya)

  4. Carla (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

    went past it today…looked like they had just knocked the top floor off and it was lying on its side next to the building

  5. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on May 19th, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

    Carla: thanks for the update. I’ll see it again Monday.

    Miss 604: my impression is that the whole area is undergoing a revitalization, probably driven by a potent combo of the BC Pen development, the arrival of Skytrain, and generally just being the next marginally underdeveloped region within commuting distance of Vancouver.

    The Labatt’s closure is emblematic of this transformation, as another industrial property turns into a residential, commercial, or retail property, because that’s where the money is.

  6. miss604 (unregistered) on May 20th, 2006 @ 11:23 am

    we’ve carved up the mountains, PoMo/Annmore, sprawled out to Langley, turned farms into residential communities in Cloverdale…etc etc. just wondering when the Fraser River shores (New West and Surrey side) are going to be developed, since there’s huge potential there – so yes, exactly, this is just the beginning.

  7. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

    Miss 604: when’s the last time you checked out downtown New West? Not only has the development on the Fraser Shore begun (as you can see in this google map of the shoreline west of Westminster Quay), but there’s an apartment tower going up right beside Westminster Station, to go along with the half-dozen other apartment towers being built in that neighbourhood, to go along with the dozen other apartment towers that are already there.

    The joint is jumping!

  8. miss604 (unregistered) on May 22nd, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

    i ‘check it out’ every weekend. so yes, i know, and it’s a good thing. i’m also talking about the surrey side, whose fraser-shores are purely industrial as far as the eye can see. from san marino (on e columbia) to anvil (on brunette) i’m well aware of the development. there’s definately a boom about to happen… these are just the first steps (which is my point).

  9. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:56 am

    Miss604: I apologize for doubting your New West street cred :). Now if we could just gentrify the place another notch, so people stop fighting on the Skytrain platform and trying to shoot up near my workplace.

    I think the Surrey boom will take a little longer, if only because of a somewhat justifiable bridge-phobia on the part of prospective condo owners. For now, the south-of-Fraser municipalities are mainly the territory of those looking for an affordable single-family dwelling.

    The good news is that Vancouver’s City of Glass and Condos Everywhere developments may help us avoid the insane fate of San Francisco for just a bit longer: because we have density and small dwellings downtown like crazy, the entry fee for in-Vancouver living isn’t half a million bucks, like it is in Fog City. It is at this point that one realizes that not having miles and miles of adorable Victorian manses may be the best thing to ever happen to our town.

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