#220: Minipark @ Jervis & Burnaby
#10 in West End
There were lots of small sagas during the great 1980s West End minipark debate: some property owners complained it would cost them an extra $5 a month, people in favour of the parks accused council of constantly dragging their heels, at one point different churches got into a skirmish when a large one complained the miniparks could prevent proper fire access.
But the debates never stop, their locations just move — today the Jervis and Burnaby minipark is innocuous, but it has a number of nice benches, some pleasant overhanging trees, and on a sunny day, a view of English Bay, and really, isn’t that enough?
#219: Fraser River Trail
“Remaining sections of the riverfront trail will be completed as opportunities arise.”
#10 in Marpole
9149 Hudson Street
We’re still deep in the midst of Park Board territory that aren’t fully formed parks, and is among the most interesting — a 350-metre strip of land of Vancouver, accessible only by walking past a giant bus depot, which amounts to a pleasant but somewhat-too-industrial walk to a picnic table next to the Fraser River, after which you walk back the way you came.
In the future, the idea is that it will seamlessly connect to an integrated greenway along the Fraser, instead of being part of a patchwork of corridors.
But if you’re interested in a picnic date next to a bridge, a river and about 200 buses, it’s for you.
#218: Willow Park
“Just a small patch of grass in the corner. Not really a park.”
#10 in Fairview
802 West 7th Avenue
A small parklet with no real interesting features, Willow Park serves the purposes of being green space in an area between Oak, Cambie, Broadway and 6th Avenue that has precious little of it. And while that’s helpful for people who need to get out of their house and don’t want to head down the hill to South False Creek (or back up the hill later, more to the point), there’s not much to recommend for non-locals.
A few benches allow quiet contemplation, and a large bulletin board structure, mostly empty during COVID, reminds one of when a physical structure to display messages was key for community communication.
#217: Wendy Poole Park
#22 in Downtown
199 Alexander Street
Named in 2000 for a 20-year-old pregnant Indigenous woman murdered in a nearby co-op, Wendy Poole is a small plot of land wedged between a popular brewpub and the bridge heading to the port and CRAB park.
An inscribed rock marks the location, there’s a bench to sit on and the view of the ocean is calming, but that’s the extent of it. The lack of amenities and small size means it’s rarely used — perhaps emblematic of our continued ability to raise up symbols and then move on.
#216: Carolina Park
“There is a little bit of grass and a small playground.”
#14 in Mount Pleasant
2100 Carolina Street
A small playground ideal for 2-5 year olds makes up the majority of this tiny park at the north end of Mount Pleasant. Any child into grade school will find the structure difficult to navigate though, and the area around the park is small, with just two benches, and only moderately maintained.
If you live in an apartment nearby, with a small kid, and have minimal expectations? It does its job passibly.
For anyone else in the neighbourhood, you’d do well to walk two blocks east to Prince Albert and West 6th, where a small garden and informal park is on top of a dramatic concrete stairwell, providing unique views of the industrial lands to the north.
#215: Roundhouse Turntable Plaza
“Mean,Sarcastic,judgemental Guy in frontdesk that plays volleyball.”
#21 in Downtown
181 Roundhouse Mews
Community centres are operated by the Park Board, which means generally the land surrounding community centres is a park, but what happens when the community centre is in the middle of downtown and there’s no space for fields?
You get something like the Roundhouse Turntable Plaza, a space next to the community centre of the same name, featuring an old-timey train turntable and a few benches and tables, paying homage to Yaletown’s industrial rail past.
Which doesn’t make it a good “park” per se, but it’s an interesting place to wait while you pick someone up from the community centre.
#214: Kinross Ravine Park
“Its more like a walkway.”
#13 in Killarney
3350 Southeast Marine Drive
A tremendously weird underutilized space, Kinross Ravine is a mid-sized plot of land on a steep slope between Marine Way and Southeast Marine Drive in the far southeast corner of the city, at the very end of the looping cul de sacs and co-ops that make up Champlain Heights.
You take a path through a wooded area with a dramatic descent, making it look very impressive on first blush, but at the bottom it’s mostly marshy weeds. Accessing the path on the high north side is only possible with stairs, and leaving on the low south side requires inching along a narrow, dangerous path right next to a busy road for 20 metres or so.
The city said a long-term strategy was to establish a functional ecological corridor to connect this with the much larger and much better Everett Crowley Park. That would be nice.
#213: Thornton Park
“grass and ducks.”
#5 in Strathcona
1166 Main Street
One of the older parks in Vancouver, Thornton sits across from the historic Pacific Central Station, and sitting next to the Main Street-Science World SkyTrain station, could conceivably be a vibrant park.
Yes, there’s the periodic farmers market. But the many small trees inhibit play, benches and chairs are minimal, and there are no other amenities. The biggest problem however is the geese, and their poop, which have made the park their domain since their previous home was displaced by construction.
The result is a underutilized park — a shame, since the Marker of Change monument in the middle, honouring the 14 women murdered in École Polytechnique massacre, is understated and worth seeing.
#212: Langara Park
#6 in Oakridge
200 West 49th Avenue
A small strip of grass between Langara College and the parking lot for Langara Golf Course, Langara Park is a pleasant enough space to throw a frisbee or have a picnic in between classes, but little else. There have been plenty of attempts to create more park land in or around the golf course over the years, but for now this is the extent of it.
Premier John Horgan held an event at this park during the 2020 election campaign, partly because it was home to a riding the NDP hoped to take, but likely because it was a place where they could be confident setting up large amounts of cameras and people, given how empty it usually is.
#211: Park Site on Jervis
“Not a good park in any way at all.”
#9 in West End
1300 Beach Avenue
At the intersection of Pacific Street and Beach Avenue in the West End sits an elongated traffic median that facilitates the effective merging of the streets, but amusingly is its own park.
While there’s not much to do, the view of English Bay is tremendous, and tucked between a collection of somewhat tropical trees is a 10-foot-high fountain, donated to the city to honour its centennial, surrounded by a couple benches.