#220: 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, more to the point, back up the hill later), 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, is a reminder of when a physical structure to display messages was key for community communication.
#219: 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 is rarely used — perhaps emblematic of our continued ability to raise up symbols, and then move on without further work done.
#218: 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 in grade school will find the structure small 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 passably.
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.
#217: 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.
#216: Kinross Ravine Park
“Its more like a walkway.”
#13 in Killarney
3350 Southeast Marine Drive
A tremendously weird and 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. Accessibility is a big problem: 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.
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.
#215: 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, it 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 the previous headquarters of the neighbourhood geese 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.
#214: 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.
#213: Park Site on Jervis
#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 also 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.
#212: Jean Beaty Park
“Nice view of the city.”
#17 in Kitsilano
3993 Point Grey Road
Along Point Grey Road, Vancouver has a number of small waterfront parks, all of which have wonderful views, all of which used to have homes on them.
The westernmost one was also the last to be created — Jean Beaty Park, named for the homeowner who sold the land to the Park Board for far below market value.
Today the homes on either side are valued at more than $10 million, but the park itself is a little smaller than the other waterfront pocket parks, with two paths limiting the amount of green space.
But if you live within a couple blocks and want a serene view, you’ll have no complaints.
#211: 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 is 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 agrees, which is why they approved a $2 million upgrade to improve the fields, upgrade the seating and make the field layouts more flexible.
When that construction is finished (it has been delayed through the pandemic), it will be a park worth visiting — especially considering the playground next to the elementary school has three structures perfectly acceptable for 5-12 years olds.
At present, it’s the most disappointing large park in the city.