“It’s got everything for a recreational park.”
#5 in Downtown
89 Expo Boulevard
Complex and complicated is probably the best way to describe Andy Livingstone Park.
Built for $7 million in the 1990s, partly funded by Concord Pacific as part of the city’s post-Expo north False Creek development, the park broadly consists of two parts: the giant artificial turf complex on the eastern half, and the hilly green space and playground on the western half, with an overhead bridge linking the two.
It’s a technically impressive park. The fields are always very busy, the new playground (part of Crosstown Elementary) has excellent steep slides and climbing structures for all ages and difficulty levels. There’s also a passable dog park, washrooms, a tennis court and basketball court (again adjacent to the school), checking off a lot of boxes for a great park.
And yet, it isn’t.
Part of that is due to the cramped nature of the space and the constant noise from the viaducts and SkyTrain, making it less a place to relax and more a place to go for a specific purpose. Part of it is the turf fields are starting to show their age, becoming easily waterlogged after a normal day of rain in Vancouver, which is to say 80% of the time from November to April.
But part of it is also the uneasy tension of a park that caters both to families with school children, but also some of the most marginalized folks in society. The western half of Andy Livingstone is fairly small, and within two years of opening the Vancouver Sun reported on nearby residents concerned about needles in the park; a trend that has continued since.
This reporter sometimes shows amazing views of the park — but he doesn’t show the occasional screaming matches or fights, though they do happen with some regularity, particularly on the bridge or the sitting area at the base of the park.
Of course, there’s a few places with an uneasy tension in Vancouver. That’s the case with a lot of big cities in 2022, and we muddle through, show empathy, and try and improve things best we can.
It means there’s a limit to how universally beloved Andy Livingstone can be, but one can still appreciate the park for what it is.