As a former parks commissioner, I have always enjoyed visiting Vancouver’s neighbourhood parks. We have been fortunate in these early days of the municipal election campaign (and the final days of the federal election!) to have lovely sunny weather in Vancouver.
The Youth Vital Signs meeting was at the Rhizome Cafe, which is two blocks from Guelph Park in Mount Pleasant. As I walked past the park late on Friday afternoon, I saw several people sitting on benches in the park talking to each other, while cyclists wheeled by on Brunswick St. It seemed to be a place to both meet friends and soak up the last of the late afternoon sun.
Three blocks from the COPE office at East Broadway and Carolina St is Sahalli Park at 7th and Fraser. This park has an interesting history. At one time Fraser Street extended further north, but a spill of toxic chemicals from a dry-cleaning operation forced its closure. The residents of the area decided that this was an opportune time to claim the land for a park. The City of Vancouver and Park Board eventually acceded to the residents’ wishes, and over time purchased some of the adjacent residential lots to add to the park area. Today the park has some striking landscaping, a play area, and a community garden. The name "Sahalli" was chosen with input from the community during my term on Park Board. It is a Chinook word that means "high place".
Finally, late on Saturday afternoon I wandered past General Brock Park (near Kingsway and Nanaimo) after helping out with federal NDP Candidate Don Davie’s campaign in Vancouver-Kingsway. On previous occasions I have seen sports teams using the field, but now the park (which has a lovely view to the north) was providing a place for some neighbourhood youth to enjoy a long weekend away from schoolwork.
We are fortunate to have many neighbourhood parks in Vancouver, but some areas of the city are still lacking in park space (the Park Board rule-of-thumb is 1.2 hectares per 1000 people), and as Vancouver’s population grows, we will face growing demand for parks. Parks and community centres add to our quality of life and help keep our communities healthy – so we need to provide access throughout the city.