#170: Meditation Park
“Nice spot but too loud for the average meditator.”
#12 in Hastings-Sunrise
2366 Wall Street
Another Perfectly Acceptable Waterfront Pocket Park, this one at Nanaimo and Wall Street has a number of subtle features that make it particularly charming, and arguably one of the best Wall Street pocket parks.
A few flowers and bushes separate the road from the rest of the park, giving it a more secluded feel. Trees dot the tiny park in a way that gives it a more magical quality than some of the sparser park sites. The benches all face the ocean and provide a wonderful view of Lions Gate Bridge and the north shore.
In short, a park worthy of its name.
#169: Heather Park
“you’re better off walking 2 minutes down the street to douglas park.”
#3 in South Cambie
702 West 18th Avenue
You know how some schools have “annexes”, that are sort of its own thing, but also clearly connected to something bigger?
Heather Park feels a little bit like that. Just one block north of the incredibly large and popular Douglas Park, Heather has four tennis courts (presumably because Douglas has zero) and a small field used as an unofficial dog area (presumably because Douglas’ fields are very sports-oriented).
Too tiny springy swings in the shape of a duck sit under a tree; no need for anything more given the magnificent playground at Douglas.
It’s often fairly busy though, a solid example of how a park can become quite popular if it fills two or three core needs very well.
#168: Winona Park
“Just a regular park with grass and a few trees. Nothing special here.”
#7 in Marpole
7575 Columbia Street
This sprawling park just off Cambie and 59th is another example of how large parks in south Vancouver seem to be only half thought out.
There are three massive fields, each separated by a steep hill that provides clear separating and interesting visuals, along with a field house and washroom on the far east side of the middle field.
And then…that’s it. Aside from a small sprinkling of trees, there’s no further amenities, save for one of the saddest playgrounds in the city, consisting of a couple swings and a solitary slide.
Luckily a new playground is coming in soon, with a trampoline, climbing ropes and seating, sadly it’s already been 18 months since the park board originally said construction would begin.
But if you need a lot of space to play a lot of outdoor sports, Winona will suffice.
#167: Ravine Park
“This ravine was once a garbage dump.”
#5 in Arbutus Ridge
2159 West 36th Avenue
Asimple yet somewhat secret park in the middle of the city, Ravine Park sneaks along three blocks between Yew and Arbutus from 36th to 33rd Avenue, and delivers a walk through a simple ravine. Tall cedars and large ferns are everywhere, blocking noise from civilization, and the walking path is paved well enough that people of all abilities can enjoy the sights of nature.
Perhaps just as importantly, a young Seth Rogen would visit Ravine Park when he was done school for the day, workshopping concepts for characters and movies with his friends, and eventually taking one small step into becoming the international movie star he is today.
Sadly, we ended up lying to Seth, and didn’t bump up the ranking. But if there isn’t a plaque in Ravine Park at some point for this bit of history, then we’re missing out.
#166: Morton Park
“It’s fun to be here!”
#7 in West End
1800 Morton Avenue
The small triangle across the street from English Bay Beach, right at the intersection of Davie and Beach, lies this small park best known today as the site of the A-maze-in Laughter sculptures.
They came to Vancouver in 2009 as part of the city’s Biennale festivities, and quickly became a place for tourists and locals to take pictures imitating the grinning visages. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson paid $1.5 million to keep them in the city, and judging by the traffic that still greets them on a summer day it was a good philanthropic investment.
Once you’ve taken a picture though, the value of the park quickly diminishes — it’s a small space with some flags and a couple grassy pitches, but English Bay is right there, and reasons to stay in the park are minimal.
#165: Cariboo Park
“small and not crowded.”
#14 in Renfrew-Collingwood
3450 East 29th Avenue
The Refnrew-Collingwood area of Vancouver has more than a dozen parks across its neighbourhood, none of which are destination parks, but only one of which (Foster) could truly be considered mediocre.
That means we’re going to see a bunch of them in the middle part of our survey, stout parks that serve the community without being particularly special unto themselves.
Cariboo is one of them — a small park along 29th Avenue, there are a lot of good elements here (including a pond, playground and shaded field) that don’t fully come together.
Part of that is due to the design that doesn’t really give definition to any area, everything sort of blending into one another. Part of it is due to the noise from 29th making it less than fully peaceful.
And part of it is none of the elements are really exciting by themselves (the pond is non-existent in the summer, while the playground is fairly good for its size, but just two structures).
#164: Downtown Skate Park
“It’s a skate park for people into skateboarding. If you like that then this place is for you.”
#16 in Downtown
Quebec & Union Street
It was with much fanfare that a fully dedicated skate park was approved by the city back in 2003, building on the city’s heritage of welcoming the sport from the days of China Creek South having one of the continent’s first sanctioned skate parks in the 1970s.
Today, the skate park under the viaducts at Union and Quebec is well-regarded, partly because its plaza style is fairly rare in a world of more traditional skate bowls, and partly due to its convenient location and unique viaduct roof.
Its future is something of a mystery though — when the viaducts come down the skatepark will have to be removed as well. For the moment, it serves its limited purpose quite well.
Even if the name is a little on the nose.
#163: McCleery Park
“It’s more of a bus stop on a thin triangle.”
#6 in Kerrisdale
6501 Marine Crescent
Another small undeveloped triangle park in the city’s west side, we admit to enjoying McCleery a little more than perhaps we objectively should.
Maybe it’s the old-school wooden sign that greets people at 49th and Marine Crescent, or the vibrant collection of trees that blossom in the spring, or the decent collection of benches that allow for quiet contemplation in a quiet neighbourhood. The grass in the middle is large enough for a picnic or a small soccer game as well.
Whether this makes McCleery a truly nice park, or simply a nice place we were generous in scoring, is open to interpretation.
#162: Mount Royal Square
#9 in Killarney
7128 Mount Royal Square
In the middle of a large townhome development just to the east of theChamplain Square Shopping Centre is a small street called Mont Royal Square. It makes a loop and in the middle there’s a long thin lawn, with some benches and rock art at one end.
The highlight is unquestionably the large fountain at the north end, where water sprays 15 feet into the air from a massive rock.
Some nearby residents say the jurisdiction of the park is not clearly known, with some believing it to be a private park even though it isn’t.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood though, it’s certainly a nice place to relax.
#161 W.C. Shelley Park
“Great place to have a toke, listen to some tunes n just chill.”
#12 in Grandview-Woodland
1500 East 8th Avenue
A block north and a block west from Commercial and Broadway is a small neighbourhood park in W.C. Shelly, named for one of the city’s earlier park commissioners.
A small but adequate playground for kids around 3 to 6 is in the middle, with garden planters and benches surrounding it. There’s a decent amount of green space on either side and a path meandering through, but there’s a bit too much noise coming from the SkyTrain and the park overall is a little too exposed to feel particularly peaceful.