#57: Vanier Park

“Beautiful view of the ocean and downtown Vancouver. Not many clean places to sit.”

#4 in Kitsilano

1000 Chestnut Street

For Kids

C+



For Adults

B+



Design

B



Atmosphere

B-



Final Score

27.75


It’s set up to be a great park. It should be a great park. 

And yet, Vanier is a big case of squandered potential. 

It doesn’t *seem* that way on first blush: after all, it’s a giant green space right on the water, to the west of Burrard Street Bridge, with multiple pieces of iconic city art, including the Gate to the Northwest Passage and the giant fountain outside the Space Centre and Vancouver Museum. A former air force base transferred to the City of Vancouver in the 1960s, there was a clear desire to make it a great public space from the beginning.   

There’s a lazy walking and bike trail lacing the water, a giant pond, even a hidden dirt bike track in the small forest in the south of the park. Bard on the Beach is here every year, tourists flock to it, and it’s easily accessible by car, bike or feet. What’s not to like?

Well, the goose, for one.

Specifically, their poop.

And look, one can debate whether the government’s moratorium on killing geese has run its course or not, but objectively there is no park in Vancouver with a greater density of geese, and excrement on the grass, creating a spongy layer that renders the large grassy area unusable for most activities for most of the year. 

Vanier Park was designed in the 1960s, previously being Air Force base, contributing to its minimal design for many years (Courtesy Vancouver Archives).

Still, let’s be charitable, and presume the goose poop suddenly disappeared for completely ethical reasons (what a weird sentence to write!). We would still have a park without any real amenities and no playground, a park with strange design choices — consider an undeveloped marsh area with a bridge that goes nowhere, for example — and a park with no beach area.

It means Vanier Park is a wonderful place to pass through, given its expansive and spectacular views. And it’s an excellent place to attend an event, or enjoy a quick walk before or after a trip to the Space Centre. 

But as a park? A place to hang out and frolic and enjoy on its own merits? 

It’s above average. And given everything it has going in its favour, that’s frankly a bit disappointing. 

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