Rating Every Park In Vancouver: #230-221

#230: Minipark @ Bute & Haro

#12 in West End


For Kids

F



For Adults

D-



Design

C-



Atmosphere

C-



Final Score

9.80


Shall we head back to the miniparks?

This one goes by The Beaconsfield, a 1909 structure that was “one of the first large apartment blocks to be built in the West End”, according to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, and still providing an imposing brick facade to this day. 

There’s also a quirky rock structure, which provides something to look at or climb if you’re a small child, and the requisite garbage cans and streetlights. 

In other words, it’s a minipark. But a slightly more interesting one.  

#229: Minipark @ Broughton & Nelson

#11 in West End


For Kids

F



For Adults

D



Design

D+



Atmosphere

D+



Final Score

10.75


We’ve covered most of the complaints that were brought against the miniparks in the 1970s and 80s, but there was a particular one reported by The Vancouver Sun in 1982. While most would identify the park as being next to the longtime home of Gordon Neighbourhood House, at the time it was the only minipark to be built facing single-family homes. 

There was originally a plan for swings and climbing bars at this park — but “the committee decided to abandon plans .. after area residents protested that it would create unnecessary noise and attract too many children to the site.” 

So, there’s that. 

#228: Thunderbird Park

“Nothing much to explore.”

#20 in Hastings-Sunrise

3485 East 2nd Avenue

For Kids

C-



For Adults

D+



Design

D+



Atmosphere

D-



Final Score

10.83


With so many parks in the city, it’s inevitable that some of them will need more TLC than others, but it’s particularly noticeable at Thunderbird Park, where exposed rust permeated through the 1980s play structure, and the noise from cars on Hastings heading to Highway 1 roars through the trees.

With a small field and a few trees, it’s certainly possible we have underrated (slightly) this park, but the lack of amenities outside the dying play structure left us with disappointment, so here it sits.

Next year though, it will get a higher ranking, as the playground was replaced in 2022.

Unfortunately for this project though, the park board thought so little of the upgrade that they didn’t bother to update their website where they list more than two dozen renovations across the system, perhaps symbolic of their care for this area over the years.

And so, for now, here it sits.

#227: Sun Hop Park

“This is not a park…”

#9 in Riley Park

192 East 18th Avenue

For Kids

F



For Adults

D+



Design

D+



Atmosphere

D+



Final Score

11.38


What does $590,000, modern urban design principles and copious references to a city’s diverse background get you? 

Sometimes, just a weirdly unsatisfying modernist park. 

Sun Hop Park, named for a company that operated a block away in the 1920s, and paying homage to the Chinese green grocers of the era, is less than a decade old. It was converted from a traffic triangle next to a parking lot in 2013, at the same time the same parking lot was being converted — in the best traditions of early 21st Century Vancouver — to a mixed-use market condo.

According to Park Board Minutes at the time, open houses revealed that people wanted a place that prioritized “social gathering, seating, respite from the traffic on Main Street, green space, public art, incorporating historical context (especially the Palm dairy), a gateway to mid-Main, interactive elements, memorable experience, and expression of the community.”

That’s a lot of stuff to jam into a small triangle of land beside a busy street. Which might explain why Sun Hop is such a jumbled mess. 

The dominant feature of the park is a curved red pergola, in theory looking like giant bendy straws you could have seen at the Ice Cream shop that operated on the site for 37 years. 

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t look like bendy straws! In theory, greenery was going to sprout on top of the pipes, but in reality there’s one sad vine on one sad curve, giving the impression of an unfinished art project.

The Main Street Poodle is in this park! It’s at an angle where you can’t really appreciate it though.

The “seating” is a few small and rickety tables, with small metallic chairs chained to the table in a completely uninviting manner. In the middle, there’s a mound of grass that’s too steep for people to actually picnic on. The rest of the park is a strip of concrete, with the somewhat infamous Main Street Poodle statue standing guard over everything. 

The shame is that architects Hapa Collaborative created the much loved Terra Nova Playground in Richmond, and the area surrounding 18th and Main is filled with plenty of small restaurants that could make a small parklet a great place for small-scale community engagement. 

That didn’t happen for Sun Hop. The area sits mostly empty, despite being new and in a high-traffic area. 

If it’s a disappointing reminder that pedigree, money and consultation doesn’t automatically mean a good park, the good news is a much better example lies just a few blocks away.

#226: Quadra West Park

“Currently, the park is a simple, open lawn.”

#8 in Dunbar-Southlands

3250 Quadra Street

For Kids

D-



For Adults

D



Design

F



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

11.50


Answering the question “what if you had a piece of land with a beautiful view and did nothing to improve it?”, Quadra West continues our theme of underutilized pieces of land on the city’s west side. 

The grass is sloped, so most games of sport are out of the question, but it provides a lovely view of Downtown and the north shore, perched as it is right on top of the ridge that serves as the unofficial demarcation of Dunbar. 

But the lack of even a single bench is perplexing, and no doubt a disappointment to people who might enjoy more complex inland parks in that quadrant of the city.  

#225: Minipark @ Jervis & Burnaby

#10 in West End


For Kids

F



For Adults

D



Design

C



Atmosphere

D+



Final Score

11.54


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.

Debates around the role of parks never stop in Vancouver, 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?

#224: Fraser River Trail

“Remaining sections of the riverfront trail will be completed as opportunities arise.”

#10 in Marpole

9149 Hudson Street

For Kids

F



For Adults

D



Design

D-



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

11.70


We’re still deep in the midst of Park Board territories that aren’t fully formed parks, and this is among the most interesting — a 350-metre strip of land of Vancouver, accessible only by walking past a giant bus depot.

When you arrive, it 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. 

#223: Willow Park

“Just a small patch of grass in the corner. Not really a park.”

#10 in Fairview

802 West 7th Avenue

For Kids

F



For Adults

D



Design

C



Atmosphere

D



Final Score

11.71


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.

#222: Wendy Poole Park

#22 in Downtown

199 Alexander Street

For Kids

F



For Adults

D



Design

C-



Atmosphere

C



Final Score

12.00


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. 

#221: Carolina Park

“There is a little bit of grass and a small playground.”

#14 in Mount Pleasant

2100 Carolina Street

For Kids

C-



For Adults

D-



Design

D



Atmosphere

D-



Final Score

12.01


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.  

Next: Parks #220-211

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