#190: Lower River District Park
“Very tiny, built not for the neighborhood but for the condo residents.”
#10 in Killarney
3180 Riverwalk Avenue
The new “River District” is Vancouver’s biggest neighbourhood development since the Olympic Village a decade ago, but because it’s in the furthest southeast corner of the city, it’s likely out of mind for most folks.
But it’s filling in, development by development, and with it are slowly coming amenities like parks.
This is one of two that has been completed, a small simple green space with lots of plants and benches around a basic walking path. It’s well done for what it is, and is an example of how smartly designed places don’t need to be large or extravagant to be welcoming, even if this one is particularly basic.
It’s worth noting that every park here on out is considered “acceptable” by our ranking team — we’re still not at anything really good, but these parks are fine enough for what they’re offering.
#189: Park Site on Shaughnessy
“Getting to the park can be a bit confusing.”
#8 in Marpole
9250 Shaughnessy Street
One of the stranger bits of parkland in the city is tucked in an industrial area south of Marine Drive, south of Kent Street — which serves as the main corridor for the businesses all the way down Shaughnessy Street to the Fraser River.
Walk, bike or drive past all that and you’ll reach the end of the road, and then see on your left what amounts to a secret park: less a cohesive green space and more a collection of things you can use.
There’s a covered picnic table, rare in a city that doesn’t prioritize them, a few benches, and the only beach volleyball courts in the south side of the city. Navigate the rocks, and you’ll be able to get right next to the river, with a very rocky beach there for sitting.
It’s quite amusing, if fairly confusing, especially since the city barely acknowledges the existence of the park, and has shown no real interest in improving it, despite a request in the 2014 Marpole Plan for improved signage and lighting.
But if you work in the area — or just live south of 41st and crave some quick beach volleyball — it will probably do the trick.
#188: Montgomery Park
“Grass soaks up rain and does not drain well.”
#5 in Oakridge
1040 West 43rd Avenue
In a city with so many large sports fields, Montgomery Park was for some time the worst.
The never-ending expanse of unmarked green space is interrupted only by small old baseball diamonds, with a sad small collection of trees on the far east side. The grass is choppy. The drainage is poor. Benches are minimal. In short, the space feels underused outside of large sports tournaments.
Thankfully, the park board agreed, which is why they approved a $2 million upgrade to improve the fields, upgrade the seating and make the field layouts more flexible.
That construction is finished after several delays during the pandemic. But it means our 2022 score reflects the park virtually shut down with the exception of the playground, and thus with this very limited ranking.
We look forward in 2023 to revisiting — especially considering the playground next to the elementary school has three structures perfectly acceptable for 5-12 years olds.
#187: Prince of Wales Park
“the playground was kinda lame.”
#6 in Arbutus Ridge
4780 Haggart Street
Another mediocre park next to a secondary school, Prince of Wales has a small playground that is barely passable for kids under five, and a large long field to play sports in. Between the two lie some trees — they provide some definition to the park, but aren’t dense enough for any particular exploring.
Finally, there’s an unmaintained incline on the park’s west side. It gives some texture, but little else.
Still, ample green space is provided for all sorts of activities. One could do worse.
#186: Bates Park
“Almost no one goes there, there is nothing worth seeing, and the nearby Highway 1 is noisy!”
#14 in Hastings-Sunrise
669 Fellowes Park
Jammed between the Second Narrows Bridge and Boundary Road, the most northeastern bit of land in Vancouver used to belong to the Bates Family, who bequeathed their property to the city for use as a park.
To call it a “park” is a stretch though. It’s mostly a small collection of short, somewhat patchy trails that connect with the Trans-Canada Trail and Burnaby’s Montrose Park.
The highlight is a collection of homemade treehouses that are charming if you feel safe enough to climb up to them, providing a unique view of the Burrard Inlet.
Unless you’re a fan of the show Supernatural. Then, the highlight is getting to see the entrance to the Men of Letters bunker in the flesh.
#185: Deering Island Park
“Very small park that is pretty, generally quite empty as well.”
#6 in Dunbar-Southlands
3530 Deering Island Place
A tiny island on the southwest corner of Vancouver that served as both farmland and residential area for BC Packers cannery workers, Deering Island was transformed into a small suburban-style single-family development with waterfront views in the 1980s.
While the push by some Vancouver residents to turn the entire island into a park failed, in 1999 a park was officially proclaimed on its far west side. A small green space next to the road transitions to a walking path next to the water for 70 metres or so.
Perfectly pleasant for island-dwellers, in other words. Plenty of more interesting waterfront options for the rest of us, however.
#184: Rosemary Brown Park
“Did I already mention small?”
#15 in Kitsilano
2299 Redbud Lane
Named for the pioneering politician who was the first Black Canadian woman to be elected to provincial office, Rosemary Brown Park is a newer park built in conjunction with the mixed-use development that sits on top of the old Carling brewery.
The park itself, weirdly separate from the connecting Arbutus Greenway Park, has a nice design for such a small space, with one area for sitting and a tiny playground for kids.
But the playground is only intended for the smallest of toddlers, the apartments next door are a little too close to make the park feel fully comfortable if you don’t live there, and there are much larger and more interesting parks directly north (Arbutus Greenway) and west (Connaught).
#183: McCleery Golf Course
“You will have 4 to 5 mosquitoes circling you at all times.”
#8 in Kerrisdale
7188 Macdonald Street
There has always been debate over Vancouver’s golf courses.
The immense amount of land they take up, the development pressures that came with population growth, the ebb and flow and golf’s standing in society have meant the location of Vancouver’s golf courses in the first half of the 20th century regularly shifted: courses at Jericho Beach and Quilchena were shuttered, while courses hugging the west coast of the city flourished. Today, the future of the city’s three public courses are periodically debated, while one private club has been transferred back to the Musqueam, with another set to do so in 2033.
But back to those public courses: there are three of them, all in different areas in the south side of Vancouver, all in good condition and all with interesting birds and plants for people to enjoy if they prefer a walk around the boundaries of the course instead of swinging a seven iron.
McCleery is the least interesting of them though: formerly a family farm, the course is mostly flat and plain from a topographic standpoint. The course has a few too many water hazards for a novice to particularly enjoy, but the routing isn’t particularly exciting for those who have played some of the region’s other tracks.
Of course, it’s still a good walk spoiled, with a couple of views of the Fraser River added in, and if you’re smart enough not to pick up the game, it becomes a good walk, period.
#182: Oxford Park
“The smell of rubber coming off the ground at the playground is so strong it’s sickening.”
#14 in Grandview-Woodland
2050 Wall Street
A small park across the street from Cambridge, Oxford is as equally mediocre, ironic considering the esteemed universities for whom both streets and parks are named for.
There’s a small but adequate playground for toddlers on this side hill, although there are plenty of reports of the rubber bottom turning hot and putrid during a heat wave. There’s also some interesting art to look at on the adjacent building, and a few trees to provide a bit of texture.
Nothing awful about it, in other words. But with so many waterfront parks nearby, and the superior Pandora Park fairly close if you have kids, there are few reasons to visit.
#181: Harbour View Park
“a couple benches overlooking the port.”
#13 in Hastings-Sunrise
2600 Wall Street
Another park that technically has no name, but which Google has given an accurate moniker, Harbour View has an excellent view of the harbour and the activities of the port from the end of Penticton Street.
It’s hard to give a high score, owing to its very small footprint. But if you enjoy looking at giant shipping containers with mountains as a backdrop, this is probably the superior choice among the Wall Street pocket parks.
A number of trees and a bit of a slope also give the plot of land some character.