Rating Every Park In Vancouver: #120-111

#120: William Mackie Park

“Kids need better slides and swings.”

#4 in Marpole

1592 West 71st Avenue

For Kids

C



For Adults

C



Design

C+



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

23.30


Continuing our tour of some of the city’s smaller parks, William Mackie is a small space in a sedate area in the far southwest of the city, between the 70th/Granville intersection and the industrial area next to the Fraser River.

Walk down steps to the quasi-sunken area, and you’ll see a couple of tables, a playground, a small field and a small basketball court. The ample tall trees provide lots of shade, and it integrates into the Arbutus Greenway fairly decently. 

At the same time, the playground is both small and in need of serious upgrades, while the green area in the middle is a little too cramped for anything but a small family or friend gathering, or perhaps light play with children. 

Still, there are good bones here, and with the park board committing to an upgrade, (including new playgrounds and a washroom) there’s potential it could become a top-tier tiny park.

#119: Balaclava Park

“A simple green space, two and a half city blocks in size.”

#5 in Dunbar-Southlands

4594 Balaclava Street

For Kids

C+



For Adults

B-



Design

C+



Atmosphere

C-



Final Score

23.33


A big beefy park in the heart of Dunbar, Balaclava’s unique feature is its dark black running track, part of the training grounds for the 1954 British Empire Games (which youngsters will just have to trust was the biggest international sports thing after the Olympics once upon a time).

Aside from the running track, there’s a regular baseball field, a simple play area for toddlers, washroom facilities and an off-leash dog area in the middle. 

Plenty of amenities for plenty of purposes — but the park is so vast and so flat, with so little trees, it’s not particularly a place to explore. And the dog park being right in the middle of the park with minimal separation can create some tension. 

Your mileage will vary, mostly based on how many miles you like running.

#118: Fraserview Golf Course

“Great suburban course.”

#5 in Killarney

7800 Vivian Drive

For Kids

D-



For Adults

C+



Design

A



Atmosphere

B+



Final Score

23.40


Ask people what the best public golf course in the city is, and few will say something other than Fraserview.

Originally built in the 1930s and receiving a substantial upgrade in the 1990s, the course in the southeast corner of the city is defined by the large trees that line virtually every fairway, making each hole self-contained on the property.

There are a few views of Richmond farmland, but otherwise it’s the sort of course with doglegs and ravine crossings and changes in elevation that define the Pacific Northwest style. And the 18th hole, with a dramatic crossing across a gorge to a green in front of the clubhouse, is the stuff of postcards (or nightmares).  

Add in a solid walking trail and holes that are short enough to be playable for just about all skill levels —so long as you drive it straight — and it’s little wonder that it’s next to impossible to find a weekend tee time. 

#117: Volunteer Park

“It is a park made from a property along the waterfront. All of these palaces should have been expropriated 50 years ago.”

#8 in Kitsilano

2855 Point Grey Road


For Kids

D



For Adults

C+



Design

B+



Atmosphere

B



Final Score

23.50


Volunteer Park is easily the best of the Point Grey Road pocket parks, mostly for the fact that it’s simply the biggest, taking up what would be three or four housing lots instead of one or two. 

It also gently slopes down to the water, with a wide area for spectacular views at the bottom. The grass is well maintained in a sort of “gentle meadow” way, and the trees are varied and tall. And car traffic is completely blocked in front of the park, making it a little quieter than the rest of the miniparks. 

All of this means it’s usually quite packed, and it’s honestly ridiculous that Vancouver has so many of these tiny pocket parks in one neighbourhood. And planned upgrades for the future include the restoration of the creek that once went through here and adjacent Tatlow Park, which will make a good thing even better.

#116: Devonshire Park

“Low key park if you wanna chill and not have tons of people around.”

#2 in Shaughnessy

1250 Devonshire Crescent

For Kids

D



For Adults

B



Design

B-



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

23.67


A quiet meadow in the southern part of Shaughnessy, Devonshire is a large field with not much else happening. 

But! That meadow is so peaceful, with so many trees and so much green space, that it’s hard to be too upset. The trees and benches provide plenty of options for meetups, but there’s also enough space in the middle for an informal game of soccer or croquet.

And the demographics of Shaughnessy mean it’s considerably less crowded and more quiet than a number of other parks, should you be explicitly seeking such a thing. 

If you believe such a simple park should be given a lesser score, similar to other parks with minimal amenities, that’s your right. It’s still one of the best in its genre, however.

Built after decades of squabbling between the park board, city and residents in the first half of the 20th century, China Creek is dominated by a huge and ultimately generic field, with little tree cover or areas for people to do anything except sports or tanning. 

There’s been renovations on the far west side of the park, which is dominated by a huge hill that provides an excellent view of Great Northern Way Campus and the surrounding industrial area.

It means there’s a winding path through some plants, which is excellent if you enjoy a bit of nature, but disappointing if you want a giant toboggan slope. There’s also a new playground with a steep slide, which we concede we might have underrated. At the same time, the playground is fairly small and jammed awkwardly between the hill and field. 

There’s also lots of fitness equipment, and judging by the number of people working out when we’ve been here, it is to flexing what nearby Dude Chilling Park is to chilling — no doubt the ample amount of sun the park gets helping with that. 

#115: Killarney Park

“A green space but devoid of anything interesting currently. Needs some TLC.”

#4 in Killarney

6205 Kerr Street

For Kids

C+



For Adults

B-



Design

C



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

23.71


Killarney has virtually everything a park *needs* — large fields, a playground, an area for dogs — but like a lot of parks that surround community centres, it seems very much to be a situation where amenities were checked off a list one by one to surround the building, rather than creating an interesting exterior that feels connected and cohesive. 

The baseball fields are fairly solid though, and the playground (minimal if fairly modern) has some mosaic art with fun messages for the youths. And the dog area is the largest field in the southeast quarter of the city, which is no doubt appreciated. 

Another example, however, of a community centre with underutilized outdoor potential. 

#114: Carleton Park

“The only downfall is that there are no bathrooms currently!”

#9 in Renfrew-Collingwood

3450 Price Street

For Kids

B



For Adults

C-



Design

B-



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

23.81


We prefer small parks that fulfill their potential over large ones that don’t, which is how the sprawling Killarney can be #111 and this quiet unobtrusive park just a few blocks north of Joyce-Collingwood station can be here.

Carleton is a simple park with a slight hill on one side and trees on the other, with a rudimentary field making up the bulk of the area.

There are a couple extra flourishes that make this a fairly good neighbourhood park — a well-paved path gives an easy thoroughfare and some simple definition to the property, and the alley on one side helps to provide a more secluded feel.

And the playground, which is fairly new, is quite good for 5-10 year olds. There’s a climbing apparatus and a couple of slides, a large swing that can fit multiple kids, a sand pit, and plenty of nearby benches for parents to safely watch from. 

None of this is particularly exciting, but all of this is good, given the park’s limited ambitions.

#113: Adanac Park

“A lines flagman at a soccer tournament 3/25/2017 struck a wild crow knocking it unconscious. Is violence permitted on your property? Apparently so!”

#9 in Hastings-Sunrise

1025 Boundary Road

For Kids

B-



For Adults

C+



Design

C



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

23.96


Adanac Park is another one of our neverending “fields+playground+washroom” parks in this fair city, with a couple things that make it somewhat noteworthy. 

One is the very large community garden; the other is the large line of trees on the top of an incline separating the fields, providing more definition while creating a pseudo-secret field on the north end of the park. 

The playground though is fairly straightforward and several decades old, though it does have two separate areas for younger and older kids. The lack of a tennis or basketball court is a little strange as well — and for a park of this size, more than a little disappointing.

The amount of field space is quite helpful though, for what amounts to a slightly better-than-average basic sports park. 

#112: Cambie Park

“If you like a park that has a grassy field you’re in luck.”

#3 in Oakridge

500 West 54th Avenue

For Kids

C



For Adults

C



Design

B



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

24.00


About one quarter of Vancouver’s parks (62, if we’re being specific), are what we called “medium mixed-use parks”: places between .4 and 3 hectares in size, and with at least a playground or an extra amenity beyond a basic field. 

In other words, the backbone of the city’s system: neighbourhood parks that provide a few things, but aren’t giant tourist attractions or big destinations for soccer or baseball games. 

We’ve got seven of them in a row coming up, which sort of makes sense: few of these types of parks are amazing (only three of them crack our top 20), and plenty of them are probably interchangeable, serving the needs of the community without being an attraction unto themselves. 

Cambie (at 54th and, er, Cambie) is certainly one of them — there’s a perfectly acceptable community playground, a spartan playground, and gentle slopes along the edges. The impressive thing about the park is you barely hear all the noise from the street with the same name, owing to the very tall redwood trees blocking out the noise, making it the sort of park that you need to know about in order to seek out. 

Could it use some upgrades? Absolutely. A lot of the parks in this area could stand for a washroom, or a more expansive playground, or a few more tables or covered areas to help provide a more community feel.

Don’t discount what they currently give though. A park like Cambie is well-used, and well-liked, if not necessarily loved. 

#111: Gaston Park

“Well used park with lots of greenspace in area with large condos.”

#8 in Renfrew-Collingwood

3470 Crowley Drive

For Kids

C



For Adults

B-



Design

C+



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

24.09


Built as part of the Collingwood Village complex of apartments and townhomes at the turn of the century, Gaston is not especially good at expectorating, but is dominated by a single baseball field, with a small ridge surrounding the park making the area seem more expansive than it actually is. The field is quite excellent and usable for folks — at least when baseball isn’t being played — and a basketball court is wedged in one corner.

The perplexing thing is the playground: a few tiny springy swings and a sad slide, all on top of somewhat lumpy rubber.

It’s not nearly good or unique enough when you consider the proximity of Aberdeen and Collingwood parks, but if you consider it as a complement to those parks, Gaston acquits itself nicely.

Next: Parks #120-111

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