I moved my clients from Vancouver's West End to New Westminster! Here's what they have to say.......

I moved my client Mat Abney from Vancouver's West End to penthouse in downtown New Westminister, BC overlooking the mountains, river and city. Now they have saturated themselves into the history and culture of this ever changing city that is making a come back! Read on for more information on how Mat Abney has tackled New Westminster and is happy he calls it home.

New West man attracts quite a crowd on Instagram

Meet Mathew Abney (aka The_Royal_City)

FEBRUARY 10, 2016 01:22 PM

He may be new to New West, but Mathew Abney appreciates the city's heritage - and its plans for the future.   Photograph By Jennifer Gauthier

Since moving to downtown New Westminster six months ago, Mathew Abney has become a booster for the Royal City. As the guy behind The_Royal_City feed on Instagram, he’s garnered a following of more than 13,000 followers who view – and contribute – photos of life in New West. Record reporter Theresa McManus recently had a chance to chat with Abney about his uber popular Instagram account.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m mid-20s, just moved to New West about six months ago. My dad owns a construction firm, so I do sales and reports for that.

How did The Royal City come about?

I had an idea, a concept, when I came to New West. I just saw that there was a gap on social media and saw an opportunity to get people excited about what was going on, things that were happening. That’s part of the reason I moved to New West myself was I saw there (were) a lot of things changing. I wanted to be part of an up-and-coming area.

Do you have a focus on Instagram that you’re aiming for?

Yeah, I’m trying to connect with local businesses. I want to try and promote events, get people talking about development, community gathering stuff. I try to get people talking and increasing engagement.

The tagline is ‘the city you thought you knew’ – what’s that all about?

I think there are some misconceptions about New West based on how it was many years ago. That’s one of the biggest things I talk about with my friends in New West, and how much it’s changed. I think a lot of people outside the city doesn’t really know that, at least with my friends. I lived in Vancouver before – they’d come out and say, “it looks totally different.” That’s kind of what I’m trying to focus on – to get people talking and get people out to see New West.

Your account is called The Royal City. For some folks, the Royal City is a stodgy old name. Why did you choose that?

I kind of wanted to draw the roots, too. That’s why in the description I have “the city you thought you knew” – I just wanted to tap into the heritage of it and modernize it, if you will.

Do you have favourite things you like to photograph and post on your Instagram feed?

I like historic buildings, the waterfront, Pier Park, River Market – typical spots where a lot of people like to spend time.

You also post a lot of other people’s shots. Why are you doing that?

It’s part of the sharing of information and photos. A lot of content gets sent to me. There’s just so many beautiful photos. I try to choose the best ones I get. Any given week I’m probably getting 50 to 100 tags of different photos. It’s really gotten bigger since I started to share and communicate with other people in New West.  That’s really what’s been driving the growth of it too. Every time you do that you are connecting with new people and sharing their content. It’s the snowball effect.

It really has snowballed hasn’t it – you’ve got more than 12,000 followers. Did you ever think that would happen? That’s huge.

I honestly never thought it would get that big. I connected with the Business Improvement Association in downtown New West. I was invited to a few of their events. They were asking for tips. It’s crazy how quickly it snowballed like that.

Do you have any goals with the IG account?

I’m not really sure where I want to take it yet. I just want to continue connecting with businesses and getting people talking.

Why are you doing this? Is it just a pastime?

My background is in marketing, that’s what my degree is in. It was sort of like a pet project and then when I saw there was an appetite for this I just sorted of wondered where this could go. It’s almost like a challenge for me.

You’re highlighting some beautiful images of New West on Instagram, but as someone new to New West are there things you’d like to see change or offered in the city that aren’t here now?

It’s not just about being pro development either and increasing densification. I’d like to see a better business community in New West, more retail storefronts, more stuff so you can stay and not have to go outside of New West. I think there’s a gap or a void in what’s available right now.

Have you always been into photography?

It’s a hobby. A lot of the good shots do come from local photographers in New West, who I am sure are much more experienced and do that for a living. That’s why I like to share those ones.

Living in New West, what’s a perfect day for you in the Royal City?

In the summertime I like to spend a lot of time at the waterfront, grabbing a coffee in the morning and lounging, just enjoying it.

© 2016 New West Record
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