#12: sθәqәlxenәm ts’exwts’áxwi7/Rainbow Park

“This park is exemplar of landscape architecture done well!.”

#2 in Downtown

872 Richards Street

For Kids


For Adults






Final Score


It is Vancouver’s newest park, Vancouver’s most expensive park — and it absolutely lives up to the hype

sθәqәlxenәm ts’exwts’áxwi7 (originally known as “Smithe and Richards Park”, for the intersection where it lies, and likely known to most for its anglicized name of Rainbow) had plenty of scrutiny and speculation when it opened.

Part of that was due its price tag (over $15 million, with a few extra million tacked on due to delays in construction), but a lot of it was due to its general concept: could a fancy, artificial, grassless, futuristic park actually work? In the middle of Downtown Vancouver? Or would it, after the novelty wore out, become a monument to architectural folly?

Well, the park worked when it opened. It kept working in the summer, when the coffee shop opened and art started hanging from the the giant arches the elevated walkway passes through. And it kept working through the rest of the year, long after the novelty passed from visiting it, with families regularly visiting at all hours of the day.

The biggest reason for this, of course, is the playground: there is so much for kids of so many ages to do, from the trampoline pads to spray pads to the slides, including the biggest of any in the City of Vancouver. It receives our top mark for kids in the city as a result.

But the design of the park also comes together as intended, with the walkways and multiple layers providing not only an interesting visual experience, but the ability to experience what is a fairly small parcel of land in different ways each time.

Yes, some people have lamented the relative lack of natural features, but Vancouver has 100+ parks that consist of a grassy field and some trees, and there’s a reason many of them sit empty for large portions of the day.

If we were to express a concern — beyond the fact there’s not much for adults to do beyond getting a coffee and watching their kids — is that it’s a park that will require constant maintenance, from the intricate playground equipment to the heavy usage it will get due to its Downtown location.

If the Park Board can ensure it gets cared for better than a lot of its inland parks, sθәqәlxenәm ts’exwts’áxwi7 will get a lot of mileage from a lot of families for a lot of years.

In summary and conclusion:

it’s a great park.

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