#70: Clinton Park
“just your average Vancouver Park.”
#5 in Hastings-Sunrise
2690 Grant Street
There are 35 parks in the City of Vancouver with a washroom and a big field you can play soccer or baseball on.
If you close your eyes you can probably imagine an amalgam of them pretty easily: there’s a small slope from the street down to the park, with a playground that could probably use an upgrade, maybe a community garden or tennis court sprinkled in, and how much you like it depends on how close it is to your house.
Of those 35, Clinton is right in the middle, an archetype for the city’s favourite form of park. The major highlights are new accessible washrooms and a few trees and plants dotted around the playground. The lowlights are yet another underused wading pool and a lack of secondary amenities like a basketball court or modern playground.
It’s still a good park though, with a tremendous amount of space in the middle of the city, one of those things that we take for granted when there’s dozens of other examples to pick from.
#69: Riverview Park
“The kids love snaking in and out of the low hanging branches.”
#2 in Marpole
1751 West 66th Avenue
There’s not too much to Riverview: it’s a big sloping park, about two city blocks large, with a playground in one corner and a bunch of trees dotted around the green space.
What a lovely green space though! It provides excellent views of the sunset, lots of wide open space for frisbee or baseball, and enough trees for exploring, particularly for little ones. A couple of them also offer excellent climbing opportunities, the type that is rare to see in parks these days. And as its bordered by three quiet streets and the Arbutus Greenway, there’s a real tranquility to it.
The older wooden playground could (say it with me) use an upgrade, but otherwise this is an excellent space for kids to play, and roam, and imagine, even without a lot of gimmicks, and yay to those sorts of parks.
#68: Salsbury Park
“Nice little neighborhood park with great mountain view.”
#5 in Grandview-Woodland
1806 Adanac Street
“Small park on a steep hill” is not necessarily a recipe for success, and yet Salsbury delivers.
Taking up about the size of one mid-sized apartment complex, the park has a small playground, a large grassy slope, and some grass and benches in between the two of them.
The playground is quite good for kids 3-6, with a rubber surface, a disc swing and a sandy pit, while the benches give a nice view of the mountains and the slope invites people to lay out on a summer day.
With a number of excellent restaurants a block away at Commercial and Venables, it’s an ideal hangout spot for people living in the neighbourhood, or just visiting for some great spicy chicken or thai food.
It’s a wonderful (if rare) example of how small parks in Vancouver can be excellent multi-use places — all it takes is a decent playground and a modicum of cleverness with the design.
#67: Cedar Cottage Park
“As with all parks/public spaces in our fair city, I only wish that there was a bit of shelter for enjoying these outdoor spaces a little more on those rainy west coast days.”
#5 in Kensington-Cedar Cottage
2650 Clark Drive
Reopening in early October after extensive renovations and therefore coming in right under our line to be reviewed this year, Cedar Cottage is a redesigned park done right.
A brand-new playground includes two separate play structures for different ages, and a few different swings (traditional and disc-shaped) on a rubber surface. Gentle curves in the grass and big trees surrounding the path give it a lived-in feel. And pair of basketball/pickleball courts reflect the type of sports Vancouverites play today, not what was in vogue 50 years ago.
There’s a bit too much noise from Knight Street (there’s always a bit too much noise from Knight), and the lack of covered area reflects a continued stubbornness on the city to acknowledge that it rains five months straight in this neck of the woods, and a gazebo or dry patio area once in a while would be nice.
Still. It’s a good upgrade in an area with plenty of young families, and a template worth following for smaller parks going forward.
#66: Victoria Park
“Um, the locals call it Bocce Park. It’s where old dudes play Bocce mostly.”
#4 in Grandview-Woodland
1425 Victoria Drive
A big flat park in a medium-density east side neighbourhood, Victoria is essentially the Dude Chilling Park of Grandview-Woodland.
That means a few things: first, that there’s lots of dudes chilling, often with a beer in hand, many of them setting up shop near the long bocce court on the east end of the park. Second, there’s lots of dogs using the small patchy field, and your tolerance for both activities will vary depending on your age and predictictions.
The reasons why Dude Chilling is the 83rd best park while Victoria is the 66th, despite having far less notoriety, are pretty simple though.
First, Victoria has a newish playground playground, the type with a fun triangle-shaped climbing apparatus and multiple play structures for different ages.
Second, Victoria has real washrooms, not just a portapotty. We need not describe any further why this matters.
And third, the park as a whole feels a little more cohesive than Dude Chilling, given that it’s a tight square surrounded by trees and homes on all sides.
All told, it’s a fine example of a neighbourhood park — providing you don’t mind open dogs or open beer — even with a relative lack of publicity.
#65: Emery Barnes Park
“For a small City park it sure is well designed.”
#8 in Downtown
1170 Richards Street
Like many parts of Vancouver’s growth over the last 140 years, the people came to Yaletown before the amenities were fully there.
Per a 2008 article by Frances Bula in the Vancouver Sun, city planners had expected 11,000 people in the downtown south area by 2016 — but it happened in 2002. The city had promised to create 2.8 hectares of park space in the area, but for a number of years, there were pretty much no green areas for the thousands that had moved in during the 1990s and early 2000s.
But bit by bit over a decade, an inland park in the heart of Yaletown grew — first as nothing more than a fountain and some benches, then a playground and off-leash dog park, then more trees and chessboard tables.
The end result is…well, it’s a slightly above-average generic downtown park, the sort you would fully expect to see in any large metropolis: nicely integrated into the downtown core, full of hustle and bustle, nothing particularly exciting unto itself, with an off-leash dog park that is fairly tiny and fairly dusty, all things considered.
Still, the playground is full of fun curved shapes and quite excellent for kids under eight, the ample tables and benches are good for adults, and there’s just enough space for a wide range of activities.
There are plenty of small things to quibble with (and have been, in a summer where crime in Yaletown came to the forefront), but a well-balanced green space in the middle of downtown is always something to be grateful for.
#64: Robson Park
“Great park to grab a coffee and play with your kids at.”
#5 in Mount Pleasant
Few people are going to rave about Robson Park, but the 111-year-old park has pretty much everything one needs.
There are tennis and basketball courts, a community garden, and a wading pool. A playground, a field house with a washroom, and serviceable field space. Paths going through for cyclists and pedestrians, and trees to sit under.
There aren’t too many parks in the city with that combination (less than 10, by our count), and it’s that variety of activities — in addition to its close proximity to a lot of great restaurants right at Fraser and Kingsway — that makes Robson a solid place to visit.
The main reason it doesn’t score higher is a general sense of lack of modern touches — everything outside the community garden looks a little tired, and while the playground is pretty new it’s also small and limited for those over six.
Difficult to mess up a big park with plenty to do however, and Robson provides what it needs to.
#63: Coopers’ Park
“A surprisingly attractive piece of green space which allows for great views of this Vancouver skyline.”
#7 in Downtown
1020 Marinaside Crescent
You probably know it more as “that quirky park under Cambie Street Bridge”, but Coopers — named for the barrel-making industry that flourished in this area in early Vancouver — has more than just a fun backstory.
There’s the basketball court right under the bridge, which is objectively super cool. The multiple playground areas (one for toddlers, one for slightly older kids) that are both perfectly acceptable. And the large, sorely-needed area for dogs to roam freely, complete with a pair of adorable dog-shaped water fountains.
And did we mention the seawall? Because having a park right next to the iconic seawall is pretty neat too.
There’s also a few pieces of art (including something that looks like an alien pod coming out of the water), and a few nods to the history of the area, although the entire feel is somewhat cramped and more of a mismash of good things than a true park, the giant cluster of awkwardly cramped benches a sign the design could have been better.
Having said that, it’s quite satisfactory for a thin piece of grass between the seawall and condos.
#62: Templeton Park
“New playground is amazing.”
#3 in Grandview-Woodland
700 Templeton Drive
Let’s get the sophomoric humour out of the way: the sign here used to read “Templeton Park and Pool”, until one too many children (physically or spiritually) drew over the “l” in pool, leaving us with, well, you know.
Strip that away (stop laughing!) and you’re left with a couple of nice fields, surrounding a pool, with a playground and a running track on the north side.
The running track is quite nice though, and the outside of the pool has dozens of murals by children that bring ample charm.
And the very new playground is quite good: woodchips and rubber on the ground, a number of different slides and things for small children to worm their way through.
It all creates a nicely balanced park, one that doesn’t try to be too much, but is always well populated for a reason.
#61: Sunrise Park
“This park is a hidden gem, I almost don’t want to review it to keep it a local secret.”
#4 in Hastings-Sunrise
1950 Windermere Street
Some parks you look at and wonder where they got their name. Sunrise offers no such surprises.
Perched at the edge of a hill that sharply descends down to Burnaby, Sunrise offers stunning views of everything to the east, be it the sun, Brentwood, Burnaby Mountain and much more. The elevated nature of the park also means it’s quiet: even though busy Rupert Street is on the east edge, the hill and tree cover give it a removed feel.
Other than the wonderful atmosphere, Sunrise is a standard large field park: washrooms, a wading pool, and a pair of older playground structures are all here.
One drawback of the park is a decent amount is less usable due to being on a fairly steep slope; but that’s mitigated by it’s use as an off-leash dog area, making a good use of what would otherwise be inefficient space.
Little wonder then that the park is generally full of families — or young couples with dogs — with a large mix of activities at all times.
A good view goes a long way, but so does a well thought out design that’s great for the neighbourhood.