“It’s dark cemented waste of space.”
#24 in Downtown
901 Mainland Street
One has so many questions when visiting Yaletown Park. Most of them begin with “why?”
Why, for example, is a park so new lacking in so many basic amenities, with not a washroom, playground, proper table or covered area in sight?
Why is the entire surface covered with brittle cement, making it incredibly inaccessible while visually unappealing at the same time?
Why are the only things in the middle of the park tiny rock chairs that are too small to sit on?
Why, in a city starved for land and a Downtown growing incredibly quickly, was this considered an efficient use of space?
When we put our initial review of Yaletown Park on Twitter, the responses included “it’s like the gulag of parks”, “always been a head scratcher”, and “actually the worst.”
One person said it’s “a park that makes you ask why. That’s a good thing. A mystery.” And mysteries aren’t the worst thing in the world, but a 2008 study of the park commissioned by the city found “it shows very little activity despite being situated in a densely populated area” and observed “there is little to do … besides sitting along the edge.”
Which, for being a park barely a decade old, is not exactly a ringing assessment.
It may be why the city is dedicating $4 million to renovate Yaletown Park, a somewhat shocking amount of money to redo a park less than 20 years old, but the lack of pushback to the decision may speak to the infamous reputation it has developed.
When the city approved the park, at a cost of around a half million dollars (with a developer paying the rest), it said “it will be a precious little space that is attractive for a sunny lunch break, for a cup of coffee, or for meeting up with a group of friends. Yaletown activities will reach into this park with programmed events like farmers’ markets, sidewalk sales, outdoor art exhibits and installations, or intimate musical and theatrical performances.”
None of this turned out to be true.
In short, the second best thing about Yaletown Park is it stands as a cautionary tale of how a newly-designed urban park can go awry.
The best thing about Yaletown Park is the heritage train you can look at.
It’s not in the park.