“Where else can you view the north shore mountains, watch the cranes of the dock operate, or see a helicopter take off?”
#4 in Downtown
101 East Waterfront Road
The most confusing thing about CRAB park are the pictures of crabs in the spay park.
That’s because the park’s name is an acronym: Create a Real Available Beach, the name of the committee led by Downtown Eastside residents that pushed for public water access in the area in the 1980s.
After a few protests and tent cities, the powers that be transferred some land from the port authority to the city on a long term lease, and CRAB Park was born. Today, there’s a small playground and spray park with a vague nautical theme, a bit of area in the east for dogs to roam, a small pier to fully take in the view, and a number of pieces of art, including monuments to DTES Missing Women and a Komagata Maru mosaic.
It’s all interesting to look at, and the gentle hills in the park help make what is very much an artificial green space feel a little more natural.
In recent years there have been protests about the port expanding its water encroachment (partly blocking the view) and a couple of tent cities. Given the park was created out of controversy, and even named out of controversy — the city originally named it Portside Park over local objections, only changing it to “CRAB Park at Portside” in 2004 — one can expect future controversy as well, such is its DNA.
It truly is an oasis from the bustle of downtown, but that’s partly due to it being a bit cumbersome to get to if you’re not driving — you’ve got to walk on a long overpass across the rail lines to get there. And when you do arrive, you’ll find that the “beach” itself is only about 60 metres of substandard sand in length, which also lessens demand.
All these caveats ignore the fact that it’s still a quiet waterfront area in Vancouver, one of the rarest things you can find, with plenty of room to walk, to sit, to run or to contemplate.
The playground could be bigger and beach longer, sure, but then it might become more popular, and who would want that?