Category Archives: Parks

Metro column: Sad end for Japantown’s field of memories

15 June 2009 05:27

Later this week, the Vancouver Canadians baseball team will play its much-anticipated season opener at Nat Bailey Stadium.

Expect the scene to be an upbeat one — from the singing of Take Me Out To The Ball Game to Little Leaguers cheerfully chasing foul balls in the bleachers.

But not far away, in the Downtown Eastside, a far less happy baseball story is being played out.

At Oppenheimer Park, in Vancouver’s old Japantown neighbourhood, the historic playing field of the Asahi baseball team is being demolished. The City of Vancouver is removing the ball diamond as part of its renovation of the park. Continue reading


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Filed under Culture, Environment, Green Space, Heritage, Immigration, Japan, Neighbourhoods, Parks, Politics, Protest, Sports, Vancouver

Metro column: Community gardens: Utopian and utilitarian

Nearly five years and counting.

That’s how long I’ve been waiting for my patch of communal garden in Metro Vancouver.

A half-decade ago, before the popularity of high-minded movements like organic eating, food security or the 100 Mile Diet, I had registered for a shot at green-thumb glory at the North Shore’s Lower Lonsdale Community Garden.

Apparently, I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm for urban agriculture. To my chagrin, it turned out there were no plots available.

So I was told by an organizer that I would be put on a waiting list. And from that queue, annually, a few lucky folks would be selected for garden membership by lottery.

Year after year, I’ve been waiting for some good news about my new patch of green. But it has yet to arrive. Two weeks ago, I found out that, once again, I was a loser in the annual garden plot sweepstakes. I wouldn’t be growing carrots or cucumbers this summer.

It’s not just this one patch, mind you. There are waiting lists for community gardens across Vancouver. The supply of plots just can’t meet the growing demand. Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Food and Dining, Green Space, Neighbourhoods, Parks, Urban Planning

Trailer parks for the homeless?

Gregory Henriquez, the Vancouver-based architect, isn’t afraid of challenging local defenders of the status quo.

Last year, the principal of Henriquez Partners Architects felt the wrath of some vocal North Vancouver residents, who railed against his proposal for an iconic 40-storey highrise on the sleepy Lower Lonsdale waterfront.

The boobirds eventually got their way, and Henriquez’ design was chased away. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Culture, Environment, Events, Gentrification, Green Space, Heritage, Immigration, Japan, Neighbourhoods, Nimbies, Parks, Urban Planning

Coastal Link’s nautical nightmare voyage

In better times, the story of Coastal Link Ferries was not unlike the old television program The Beachcombers. The passenger ferry service featured colourful characters, a plucky boat and a picturesque B.C. coastline backdrop.

But times have changed.

Nowadays, Coastal Link’s story reads like a Joseph Conrad novel — a turmoil-fuelled nautical nightmare.

The company’s winter of discontent actually started during the fall on a blustery November day when the Coastal Runner vessel hit rough waters. Continue reading

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Filed under Marine transport, Nimbies, Parks, Transportation

Province column: Designer dogs take place of kids as schools shut for lack of pupils

The Province
Monday, March 17, 2008

These are gloomy days for dodgeball, hopscotch and other staples of the traditional school recess in British Columbia.
Over the past decade, playgrounds and sports fields across the province have gone quiet as a result of school closings; the sounds of children at play during their breaks from math and grammar giving way to a vacuum of silence.

And that’s a shame for all of us. Continue reading

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Filed under British Columbia, Education, Gentrification, Immigration, Parks, Real Estate, Vancouver Province Columns

Trek Park?

It seems the college sit-ins and protests of 2007 just don’t resonate like they did in the 1960s — at least on Canada’s West Coast. Case in point: Trek Park at the University of British Columbia, designed as a gathering place for students taking aim at construction developments on the campus.

Trek Park UBC

The UBC student newspaper, The Ubyssey, tells it best:

Erected on the first day of school, September saw Trek Park as a place where University Square and underground bus loop protesters could congregate to challenge UBC’s development. But once the rainy season hit campus, the fun filled protests turned into washed-out sod sitting in a parking lot.

Trek Park hasn’t kept up the well-maintained face it needs to be taken seriously. If the goal of the park was to change the course of campus construction, then it should have kept up its message. If the intent was to create a meaningful public space, more activities could have been planned. But it appeared to fizzle out, giving UBC developers the ability to say that Trek Park activism and student opposition to certain types of development had withered.

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Filed under Academia, Parks, Protest, Vancouver

Tower in the park

Gordon Price, who heads up Simon Fraser University’s Cities Program, has some feedback on the observation tower proposed by architect Richard Henriquez for Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park.

I like the idea of a tower. There’s just something about getting to a high place with long views that’s embedded in our genes. And they’re great places to take visitors to explain the lay of the land. They give us another perspective on our own place.

Henriquez Tower

We also get another ‘Henriquez.” The architect is one of the best in this part of the world, and he’s already added admired landmarks to the city: the highrise with the tree on top at English Bay for one. You can see more of his work in Price Tags 74 and Price Tags 76.

Yes, the tower will change a view as it seeks to capture others. But in a complementary way, I think, adding a vertical note to a horizontal landscape. Contrast can be good.

I’ll second the call for another “Henriquez”. It’s nice to see that some architects on Canada’s West Coast — Henriquez for one — aren’t averse to a bit of risk. 

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Filed under Green Space, Parks, Vancouver