Canada’s First Parkour Park Open Now in Vancouver

Photo Credit: THOR/Flickr

Photo Credit: THOR/Flickr

Vancouver is scoring a Canada-wide first with a public outdoor parkour space in Hastings Park as part of the 20 year multi-million dollar master plan for Hastings Park and the PNE. We spoke to Dave Hutch, park-board manager of research and planning to find out more.

How did the idea for Plateau Sports Park come about?

The idea was to transform the whole park into a series of connected open spaces and recreational amenities. In 2011 we began implementing the plan by going through a process of working with the community and identifying where people’s needs and desires were for activities. Empire Fields was already a sports field and we upgraded it to synthetic turf and a rubberised track. Plateau Park was envisioned as a place of active sport and recreation that would be complimentary to field sports. We were approached by a group of parkour practitioners who said, ‘Hey, they have parkour parks in Europe, could we do that here?’. How did you feel about the idea of a parkour space? When we sat down with them, first we had to understand what it was! There’s a sort of a view of parkour of that James Bond Casino Royale scene that everyone thinks of, but it’s much more than that, lots of people can do parkour: young kids, adults, men, women –many moves are done just a few feet off the ground, so we just needed to know what they required.

Photo Credit: Occasionallyxxx/Flickr

Photo Credit: Occasionallyxxx/Flickr

So what is parkour?

Parkour is all about figuring out how to go from A to B in the most efficient way possible, using only the human body and your surroundings for propulsion focussing on maintaining as much momentum as possible. So, that can include working through an obstacle course by running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping and rolling. It’s a lot of things!

What makes parkour a good fit for Vancouver?

One of the reasons we were interested was that team sports were well represented with the sports field, but it can be hard to address youths and children who dont want to –or are unable to– participate in team sports. We wanted to find what would appeal to them. The great thing about parkour is that you can do it alone or as a group too. We want to encourage a broad diversity of recreation in our parks which appeal to individuals and groups.

Photo Credit: THOR/Flickr

Photo Credit: THOR/Flickr

Will there be help for beginners?

Right now, the park has just opened and it’s early days, but we will look at exploring this through community centre programming. The best place to get the basics right now is at Origins, a parkour gym in the city that teaches parkour.

And how will parkour fans work within the mixed use space?

We hope that with all our facilities people take their turn and share – just like taking turns on the swings on the playground! There is lots of room to manoeuver and lots of space, that’s the great thing– parkour is very adaptable and people can make their own routes.

What are the opening times?

The park is open daylight hours but because the sports field is lit, we’ll likely be able to have lights on into the evenings too, and, of course, it’s free for all to enjoy.

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