Inside Vancouver’s Tiniest Parks: A guide to the city’s “parklets”

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Chances are you’ve walked by some of Vancouver’s tiniest parks without even noticing.

Over the past years, the city’s Viva Vancouver organization has helped quietly transform spare parking spaces on busy city streets into petite “parklets.”  These miniature oases, which often measure no more than 30 square metres, functions as mini public plazas, with benches, tables and landscaping.

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

On the corner of Main Street and 14th Avenue, for instance, a couple of parking spots in front of the JJ Bean have been transformed into “Parallel Park,” a wooden deck with ample benches for people watching.  On busy Robson Street, just outside Cafe Crepe, benches have been set amid lush grasses as part of an “Urban Pasture” parklet. Meanwhile, on Fraser Street and 44th Avenue, the “Hot Tubs” parklet offers seating in what look like old-fashioned wooden hot tubs.

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

This summer, the program is set to expand significantly with several new parklets being added across the city. Sponsored by local businesses, the parklets are meant to transform otherwise unremarkable parking spots into dynamic public spaces that foster a sense of community. They also tend to be great for nearby businesses, drawing a steady stream of foot traffic.

One of the new parklets in the works is in Vancouver’s so-called French Quarter, on the corner of Main Street and 21st Avenue in the Riley Park neighbourhood.  It consists of a patio with wooden walls, benches and lush planters.  In the middle is a unique “bicycle bar,” which cyclists can cruise up to without having to dismount. The park cost $25,000 to build and was funded with a KickStarter crowdfunding campaign.  Another parklet is also being planned for Commercial Drive.

global_reef (1)Of course, Vancouver’s most famous mini park (though not officially a parklet) is the 800-block of Robson Street (between Howe and Hornby Streets) which is closed to traffic each summer and transformed into a unique themed gathering spot.  This year’s “Urban Reef” – consisting of gracefully curving wooden benches that evoke a marine reef – officially launched on June 26 and will remain open through Labour Day.

A special thanks to Paul Krueger for sharing such great parklet photos on Flickr.

What do you think of Vancouver’s parklets? Let us know below. 

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