“i got a profound sadness as to why it has to be this way.”
#3 in Strathcona
857 Malkin Avenue
Scoring a park which was turned into a homeless encampment and one of the city’s biggest hot-button issues is hard.
We know this because each week when we ranked parks in a different neighbourhood, there were some who angrily told us we should focus on drug use in Strathcona instead.
We know this because when we said the only negative interaction we had visiting any park in the city happened on the city’s west side, a former city councillor who opines often about Strathcona implied this reporter was a creep.
We know this because when we visited the park for our review, everyone’s scores were wildly different, with different explanations as to why.
What we *can* say about Strathcona Park is it was the site of the city’s main dump for a number of decades, before community outcry forced the city to move the dump and make it a park.
We can say that the park was originally built on top of the old landfill in the 1940s and called “False Creek Park”, back when there were people alive who remembered how False Creek originally continued well past Main Street, before it was filled to create industrial and railroad space.
We can say that the park was renamed to Strathcona in the 1970s, had its two community gardens developed in the 80s and 90s, and had extensive upgrades in the 2000s. It’s regularly been a place in flux, it’s always been a centre of the community, it’s been home to controversies over homeless people in the past and will probably be again.
As for the park? It’s big enough to do just about anything, with basketball and tennis courts, ample field space, washrooms and an older-but-adequate playground.
The real highlight is the two community gardens on the south side: the Strathcona Community Garden to the west is fairly standard but has some lovely sitting areas, but the Cottonwood Community Garden to the east winds around trees, has a variety of different themed areas, and feels completely removed from the city.
Those community gardens are still quite tranquil; the middle of the park was mostly unusable for much of 2020 and 2021 unless you camp there, and our scores reflect that as best we can. In 2022 the park will likely be fully refurbished, and we look forward to a more fulsome review then.
So here it sits, somewhere in the middle, waiting for another revitalization in a story already full of them.