#210: Triangle Park
#13 in Mount Pleasant
151 Athletes Way
The waterfront path along Olympic Village between Science World and Hinge Park is one of those places you would take people to if you wanted to explain modern Vancouver — a collection of immaculately designed public spaces and waterfront views and separated pedestrian and cycling paths that seems utopian so long as you don’t ponder the economics of it all.
In the middle of that is a weird sliver of land that’s technically a park.
Called “Triangle” in the planning stages and in databases, but never publicly named as such, there are two long undulating benches (with overhanging structures that could be covered to protect from the rain, but aren’t, because Vancouver), surrounded by a bit of grass.
A fine space to enjoy a bite to eat, but another area where one wonders why it’s technically a park.
#209: Arbutus Park
“Blaaaaa plain jane dead grass.”
#9 in Kerrisdale
7601 Arbutus Street
Donated in 1958 by George Kidd, former president of BC Electric Company, this park provides a large expanse of trees (mostly of the willow and oak variety) on a mid-sized parcel of grass.
Like many west side parks, if you live nearby it’s okay for a picnic, but its location next to Southwest Marine Drive makes it fairly noisy.
If that doesn’t sound exciting, that’s because it isn’t.
But undeveloped triangle parks are a beacon of this city, and this is certainly one of them.
#208: Commissioner Park
“Not much of a park but a nice spot to sit on a bench.”
#19 in Hastings-Sunrise
2709 Wall Street
As the west side of Vancouver has the Point Grey miniparks, the east side has the Wall Street ones — little pockets of land that used to be homes, and are small waterfront green spaces for the enjoyment of the public, assuming your enjoyment is mostly derived from quietly enjoying the view.
This one, just off Slocan Street, is the least essential, owing mostly to the fact that hedges and trees block 80% of the view, only providing tiny slivers of the north shore mountains in the distance.
#207: Angus Park
“Usually completely empty, occasionally graced by a rich local from one of the nearby mansions, walking their untrained purebred bored and stressed out dog.”
#5 in Shaughnessy
3600 Angus Drive
Another west side neighbourhood with another unremarkable triangle park, Angus is named for a Canadian Pacific Railway Director who never lived in Vancouver — which was common for much of the surrounding Shaughnessy neighbourhood, created by the railway company in the early 20th century.
There are a number of interesting trees (including a Chinese Fir and Swamp Cypress), and enough space that the neighbourhood dogs can frolic freely even if it’s not technically an off-leash area.
But would one come here if they didn’t live in Shaugnessy? No, they would not.
#206: Minipark @ Cardero & Comox
#8 in West End
The best of the West End miniparks is objectively (if such a word can be used for this exercise) at Cardero and Comox, and this statement can be made for a number of reasons.
For one, it’s across the street from Lord Roberts Field and the adjoining elementary school, giving the space a less cramped feel, with things for the public to stare at other than just houses.
For another, there is easily more benches and tables than the other miniparks, making it more inviting to sit and let the time go by.
It used to be home to the Cardero Grocery corner store as well, but has been in development limbo for several years. Current plans involve new rental units and a new grocery store, which one hopes would make a decent minipark that much better.
#205: Hastings Community Park
“Not a good park at all.”
#18 in Hastings-Sunrise
3000 East Pender Street
There are a number of things you can do at the park surrounding Hastings Community Centre, from basketball to tennis to having a picnic in the flat area surrounded by trees. One of the baseball diamonds is of tournament-quality, and provides views of Playland across the street.
But the overall feel of the park is of a disjointed place (common to many parks with a community centre right in the middle, the outside amenities designed in a haphazard fashion), of a loud place (due to cars roaring on Hastings Street as they make their way to Highway 1), and of an annex to Hastings Park next door.
In other words, the problems that plague the park aren’t exactly fixable, but it still serves its purpose for people living nearby adequately enough.
#204: Shaughnessy Park
“I sometimes amuse myself by imagining that the bloated plutocrats would all simultaneously emerge from the surrounding mansion-cum-palaces ( dressed in top hat and morning suits, like that jolly little fellow from the Monopoly game) to engage in an impromptu game of ‘Gurkha Football’ – no field boundaries, goal posts or referees, their only notion of the game being to kick the ball as hard as ever they could and then run after it laughing like madmen and shouting ‘footba’ !'”
this eventuality is unlikely to occur, but I think that the world would be a little bit nicer if it did.”
#4 in Shaughnessy
1300 The Crescent
If you were an alien studying Vancouver from afar, you might think Shaughnessy Park would be amazing.
After all, it’s a park right in the middle of the wealthiest neighbourhood in Vancouver. It’a large circle, in a centrally-planned area built 110 years ago, with all roads in the community leading towards it. Surely, the park would evoke a grand experience teeming with people.
The circle has a small dirt path through it. It’s home to a variety of trees, common and rare, that are too plentiful to make games of sport possible, but too few to create a true forested experience. It has no washrooms, and no amenities of any kind.
Of course, all neighbourhoods in Vancouver have these sorts of minimalist green spaces. But Shaughnessy is the only one of the city’s 22 neighbourhoods where a majority of its parks have zero amenities.
Why? The obvious answer is that virtually every resident lives in a large single-family home with an expansive backyard. As a result, dynamic parks have rarely been needed or requested, especially compared to neighbourhoods like Mount Pleasant or Kitsilano.
At the same time, Shaughnessy’s population has slowly diminished and gotten older over the last 25 years, further reducing community demand for new amenities.
So if all you need is a bench to watch the trees, or a space to walk your dog, then Shaughnessy Park does just fine.
It’s a symbolic park. But the symbols may be different depending on who you are.
#203: Portside View Park
“There’s no Portside View so the title is pretty misleading.”
#17 in Hastings-Sunrise
2597 Wall Street
Technically this park doesn’t have a name — the city just calls it “Park Site on Kamloops” as part of the group of Wall Street Parks.
(Sidenote: at one point in the 1970s, the city had a fund to improve the Wall Street Parks, but at a certain point they diverted the funds to the Kerrisdale Lawn Bowling Club, which became a symbol of the city providing more to the west side than the east)
Anyways, this one has been named on Google as Portside View, owing to its location right across from part of Vancouver’s expansive port.
And yet, the view is often ironically blocked by thick hedges, making it less satisfactory. The park has enough space to picnic or play some bocce, making it not a total loss, portside view or not.
#202: Seaforth Peace Park
“very noisy. Not the best location for a park.”
#16 in Kitsilano
1620 Chesnut Street
A fairly small strip of land right in front of the Seaforth Armoury where it gets half its name, the “peace” part can refer both to the memorial fountain that commemorates the bombing of Hiroshima, a group of peace trees planted in the 1980s, or the number of large peace rallies that would often start here, a staging ground before crossing the Burrard Street Bridge.
All interesting history, and there’s a few interesting sculptures to look at, but as a park it’s incredibly noisy given its proximity to the bridge. And there’s no amenities for kids, or enough space to do much but have lunch.
But it’s definitely the only park in Vancouver that has an engraved recipe for soup.
#201: Portal Park
“It’s a place where business people working in the downtown core smoke and chill briefly.”
#20 in Downtown
1099 West Hastings Street
When it opened in 1987 — “primarily for downtown office people”, as the Vancouver Sun put it — you could still see the mountains and Lions Gate Bridge from this small park. But in the intervening decades, towers and convention centres have blocked the view.
What remains is a little piece of Expo-era architecture, curved canopies and inaccessible paths, a perfectly average place to have that lunch away from the desk but little else.
There’s a picture of a globe in the middle; a sign of the city’s worldly ambition in the 1980s, with the politics of the park being a product of a land swap with a developer long forgotten.