Rating Every Park In Vancouver: #140-131

#140: Sutcliffe Park

“Well maintained flower beds.”

#6 in Fairview

1318 Cartwright Street

For Kids

D



For Adults

C



Design

B-



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

21.51


A co-worker from Alberta once said that “Vancouver is a city entirely designed to maximize its views” and Sutcliffe Park is a good example of that — there’s not here other than the views of Granville Island, Downtown, and South False Creek, but man, they’re good views.

Otherwise, this is a weirdly disjointed area directly south of Granville Island, with some nice plants and few pieces of art (including a modern totem pole and an old dragline bucket), but not much to do before it transitions to the more narrow bike and pedestrian path on the east and the island to the north

When you’re surrounded by pleasant grass and oceans views near the heart of the city though, it’s difficult to find too much fault.

#139: Ross Park

“I love my little neighborhood park.”

#5 in Sunset

7402 Ross Street

For Kids

C+



For Adults

C+



Design

C+



Atmosphere

C-



Final Score

21.53


Ross is essentially a “starter pack” of Vancouver parks: there’s a multi-purpose field to play soccer or baseball, a field house with a washroom, a wading pool that gets turned on less and less every year (and was completely shuttered in 2020 due to the pandemic, like a lot of them), and a playground that for most is perfectly acceptable but not particularly accessible, with a nice wooden theme and two different slides. 

The one thing that lifts Ross up, and is common in Sunset parks but rare in other neighbourhoods, is a decently large covered picnic area. 

There were even a few informal chairs when we visited, a nice example of how a community can add things to parks, and the importance of covered public spaces in the current environment. 

#138: Kerrisdale Centennial Park

“Nice little park. Flowers and green space.”

#5 in Kerrisdale

5898 Yew Street

For Kids

C+



For Adults

C-



Design

C



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

21.67


While most parks surrounding community centres are large and a mishmash of different amenities, the ambitions for Kerrisdale are decidedly modest: a little garden with a sitting area, and a fun playground with two different structures (one for the 4-7 set, one for slightly older kids) that both have slides and climbing structures.

The sitting area in particular is unique — a small cement triangle with hedges on two sides to block the noise, and a small row of hedges along the hypotenuse, allowing the trees and garden to be easily viewed. 

#137: Marpole Park

“The grass is more like sharp moss.”

#6 in Marpole

1410 West 72nd Avenue

For Kids

C+



For Adults

C



Design

C+



Atmosphere

C-



Final Score

21.70


Marpole is underwhelming, and so are its parks. 

That’s the account, at least, of the City of Vancouver when it did a community plan in 2012, attempting to address 30 years of inattention and traffic from the Oak and Arthur Laing bridges balkanizing much of the neighbourhood. 

“I don’t think it’s as thriving as people would like it to be,” said city planner Matt Shillito to The Vancouver Sun, adding that Marpole’s parks “are in quite poor condition.”

And Marpole Park itself is one of those parks that seemingly hasn’t gotten an upgrade in decades. Surrounded on all sides by low-rise apartments, it has a nice neighbourhood vibe, and there’s a monument on one side to the large midden that’s central to the Indgenous history of the area. 

At the same time, the playground is old (though charming!), with a rusty slide that has seen better days. The field, as one Google reviewer said, “is more like sharp moss” than actual grass. And it’s the type of central neighbourhood park that screams for a washroom facility. 

Still, like most of Marpole, there’s good bones here. One can hope the same revitalization the city hopes for the neighbourhood will also happen for the park that shares its name. 

#136: Nanaimo Park

#5 in Victoria-Fraserview

2390 East 46th Avenue

For Kids

B



For Adults

C



Design

C



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

21.81


Any discussion of Nanaimo Park has to begin with its playground: one of the newer ones in the city, it is excellent for kids around 5-9 or so — lots of variety, lots of different structures (including a climbing apparatus and a modern teeter-totter), even a little beach pit as well. It’s very good!

The city is in the midst of a decade-long spree of building 20 or so new playgrounds, and while one can lament how long the upgrades took, many of them are top notch and give play opportunities for different ages and abilities much better than previous generations. 

The rest of the park is a giant collection of baseball fields, with a small incline with trees in the middle, along with a washroom. Your mileage may vary.

#135: Langara Golf Course

“Build Condos.”

#4 in Oakridge

6706 Alberta Street

For Kids

D



For Adults

C+



Design

B



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

21.95


Over the years the boundaries of this course have changed and shrunk to accommodate the building of Langara College and a townhouse development, and today Langara still faces the most proposals by members of the public to be repurposed, owing to its central location in the city and proximity to the the Cambie & 49th Avenue SkyTrain station. 

The course itself is a nice parkland route, its wide fairways and short yardages making it very playable for the average golfer, but multi-level greens giving enough of a challenge for experts. There’s an ample variety of plants and birds, and the jogging path that surrounds the course is nice and gentle.  

Whether that’s enough to keep it Vancouver’s oldest public golf course in the decades ahead will be up to the whims of politicians. For now, it’s a course the proprietor of this website enjoys, mostly because he can sometimes break 80 here.

#134: Laurel Landbridge

#5 in Fairview

2200 Laurel Street

For Kids

D



For Adults

C-



Design

B+



Atmosphere

B+



Final Score

22.00


Secret park! 

Okay, not really a park so much as a short unique walking trail, Laurel Landbridge is still plenty interesting. 

Connecting South False Creek with the Fairview neighbourhood to the south by way of an overpass across busy 6th Avenue, it was described as “the world’s most expensive flower pot” in The Vancouver Sun when it was built in the 1970s. 

And really, it’s little more than a green walkway for 100 metres or so, but it’s a unique design, with rocks jutting out in the middle and enough of a winding path that makes it seem juuuust natural enough, a sort of mini NYC High Line. The plants on either side help block out some of the noise, but are open enough to provide unique views of the corridor. 

Obviously there’s not much to do except walk from one side to the other, but the novelty of it is super enjoyable.

#133: Granville Park

“Actually got married in this park. 5 stars! Ask me in a couple years though lmao.”

#4 in Fairview

3001 Fir Street

For Kids

C+



For Adults

C



Design

C+



Atmosphere

C-



Final Score

22.17


What separates a good park from an average one?

Obviously it depends a lot on who’s doing the considering, what they value, when they came to the park, and all sorts of additional caveats that render moot the entire point of this exercise. 

But you’re right in the middle of a never ending ramble about one city’s park system, so here’s my answer: anything that got more than 22 points. 

It became clear after a few neighbourhoods that any park folks enjoyed independently of our group hangouts — the type of park that could be recommended to folks living more than a couple blocks away — got at least this score. A park with a score of at least 22 means it has at least one or two very good aspects, or was solid across the board with no giant drawbacks. 

Granville Park is certainly the latter: it’s a park with a fair number of amenities, but no real magical elements to it, with apologies to those fans of the expansive lawn bowling club on site. Divided by Fir Street in the middle, there are good tennis courts, a good playground for smaller kids, a good unofficial off-leash dog park, and a good long field for games of sport. 

None of these elements are in the top 10 in the city, but they’re good enough that it’s a well-used park for the many people living in mid-rise apartments nearby, and really, that’s all a park needs to be. 

#132: Shannon Mews Park

“It looks like someone’s big yard with a mansion at the end.”

#4 in Kerrisdale

43 West 57th Avenue

For Kids

D+



For Adults

C



Design

B-



Atmosphere

B



Final Score

22.25


First: yes, that’s the real sign for the park.

Second: the history of the land at 57th and Granville is a small snapshot of Vancouver itself. 

Farmland in South Vancouver at the beginning of the 20th century, the land was purchased by Benjamin Rogers, founder of British Columbia Sugar, one of the province’s first iconic businesses. Like many of Vancouver’s first local titans, he built a mansion reflecting his interests, in this case a Beaux-Arts house with a grand European garden. 

A half-century later, the land was in the hands of Peter Wall early in his career as one of the city’s foremost developers. Council approved rezoning the land, allowing 171 apartment units on 10 acres surrounding the mansion — which the Vancouver Sun said was the “latest capitulation to developers”, with “density as high as the heart of the West End apartment jungle”.

Those apartments, designed by legendary Arthur Erickson, had become faded by the 21st century, when Wall’s company (now overseen by his son) seeked to redevelop the land again for more density. Local residents complained, saying they wanted “something that’s appropriate”, but it passed with less controversy than before. 

As part of the agreement for more density, there’s now a park, one of the city’s newest, in front of the grand 25,000 square foot mansion. It has a small but quirky playground for young kids, a faux Italian garden theme that’s delightfully over the top, and all the weirdness of modern apartments jammed right next to an old historic mansion.

Yet in recent months, there’s been more allegations of signs telling people to stay off the public lawn in places where it blends with private property, and of conflicts between landowners and passerby’s.

Yours to enjoy, in other words. Under the right circumstances.

It’s a new park. But an old story. 

#131: Champlain Heights Park

“Older community center.”

#7 in Killarney

3351 Maquinna Drive

For Kids

B-



For Adults

C-



Design

C-



Atmosphere

C+



Final Score

22.36


From one of the most unique parks in the city to one of the most generic, Champlain Heights is another park surrounding a community centre with a playground and some all-purpose fields. 

The playground is average for 2020; two small slides and a tunnel bridge, on a raised sandbox that makes it less than accessible for all.   

However, a better playground with a fun dragon theme is at the bottom of the field, next to the school annex. The sharp incline down to the field provides a dramatic view of Everett Crowley Park to the south. 

The city has been promising an upgrade to the playground for a while now; that it’s been delayed for more than five years while more than a dozen parks in other parts of the city have gotten an upgrade might speak to the geographical inequities of Vancouver.

Next: Parks #130-121

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