#170: Ravine Park
“This ravine was once a garbage dump.”
#5 in Arbutus Ridge
2159 West 36th Avenue
A simple 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, 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.
#169: 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 next door.
As such, the reasons to stay in the park are minimal.
#168: 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, it has a lot of good elements (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).
#167: 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 being 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.
#166: 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.
#165: Mont Royal Square
#9 in Killarney
7128 Mount Royal Square
In the middle of a large townhome development just to the east of the Champlain 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.
#164 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 the small neighbourhood park 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 of the park, 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 enjoyable.
#163: Hillcrest Park
“The fields are always swampy.”
#6 in Riley Park
4501 Clancy Loranger Way
The Hillcrest Community Centre is probably the best community centre in the city — the legacy of being a host venue for the 2010 Olympics means it has great curling and hockey rinks, along with an indoor and outdoor swimming area.
But the public-access park surrounding it suffers — the baseball fields are good, but the soccer fields have some drainage issues, the playground is very minuscule, the shade is non-existence and there’s a surprising lack of a walking/biking path through the immense and endless fields.
We’ll admit that the Hillcrest Geyser water feature, which has been dormant during the pandemic, could give Hillcrest a boost up in the future…though only so high for a park that lacks a lot of secondary features.
#162: Price Park
#13 in Renfrew-Collingwood
3650 Price Street
A new playground was recently installed at this simple but small park right off Boundary Road, and it’s inventive enough for the 4-8 year-old set, with a couple slides and climbing apparatuses.
Otherwise, it’s an open grassy field that slopes up towards the road, large enough for small games but relaxed enough that a family or friend gathering is easy enough if nobody’s using it.
Our score of exactly 20/40 reflects a general “it’s fine” attitude for Price and what it tries to be — but parks like these are still at the point where they’re not worth going out of your way to visit.
#161: Point Grey Road Park
“You can’t give that view anything less than 5 stars/”
#12 in Kitsilano
3215 Point Grey Road
If there was ever a unnamed park in the city that screamed for a formal name, it’s the awkwardly named “Point Grey Park Site at Trutch Street”, recognizing the park is on “Trutch Street”, named for Joseph Trutch, B.C.’s first lieutenant-governor who is now widely acknowledged as B.C.’s most notoriously influential politician when it came to displacing and disenfranchising Indigenous people.
Now that we’ve got that rant out of the way, this park is a lot like the other Point Grey pocket parks, but with one key element — a little wooden cantilever deck that juts out into the ocean, which has been there since the park’s earliest days in the 1970s.
Not only does it give a beautiful view, if you’re prepared enough you could probably set up a unique picnic.
Though you might have some competition for the spot.