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Central Park: Paved parking lot transformed into urban oasis

Rather than “pave paradise” to put up a parking lot, the park board recently converted a paved parking lot into a new urban oasis. On Sept.
Creekway Park
Creekway Park on Bridgeway Street, which used to be a parking lot, officially opened on Monday. It includes a reclaimed section of Hastings Creek, plants, bird habitat and paths.

Rather than “pave paradise” to put up a parking lot, the park board recently converted a paved parking lot into a new urban oasis.

On Sept. 30, the park board officially opened Creekway Park on Bridgeway Street near New Brighton Park with a ribbon cutting, the installation of bird nesting boxes, speeches and of course, cake.

The ecologically rich park was created to include native plants, bird habitat, pedestrian/bike paths and a daylighted stream. That reclaimed section of Hastings Creek had been buried for almost 100 years.

Speakers attending the event included Vision Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper, Vision Vancouver acting mayor Heather Deal and Rivers Day chair and chair emeritus of BCIT Rivers Institute Mark Angelo. On Monday, students from Sir John Franklin elementary school helped raise the nesting boxes for birds and planted perennials in the 3.2-acre park.

The completion of the $1.2 million Creekway Park is the first physical outcome of the Hastings Park/Pacific National Exhibition Master Plan, adopted by city council in 2010.

New park deux
“If you build it they will come,” refers of course to the new Beaucoup Bakery & Café on Fir Street, which is packed every day. So it stands to reason a new park right across from the café on Fir Street at West Sixth Avenue should also draw crowds, According to the latest concept design presented to the park board, the skateboard ramp is out and garden plots, sun lounger chairs and an orchard are in, which pretty much guarantees Courier staffers will be found there around noon on most sunny days once it’s completed. Once completed, the .13-hectare park will enjoy a green theme with 33 new trees, 12 community garden plots, including an educational area, and multiple landscaped areas with grass, wildflowers and shrub beds.

You’ve been warned
The Courier was criticized by the Georgia Straight newspaper some years back for running a story about an aggressive raccoon that attacked and injured a Jack Russell terrier in the West End.

But don’t say we didn’t warn you. What’s thought to be a family of vicious raccoons is terrorizing not only dogs but also humans in an area close to Stanley Park. The Stanley Park Ecology Society has long recognized a major part of our raccoon woes stem from humans continuing to feed them.

The society is so concerned about interaction between humans and the cute but not so cuddly creatures that this past summer it introduced a new program called Raccoon Rangers made up volunteers from Canada and abroad, including Kenya, Switzerland, Taiwan Australia, Italy and Belgium, who combined speak more than 15 different languages.

The rangers patrol the park during summer months to answer visitor questions about raccoons and other urban wildlife as a way of limiting human and animal conflicts in the park. According to the society, raccoons are curious and intelligent wild animals, highly adaptable to living in developed areas near humans. They take advantage of any available food, including easy meals handed out by park visitors. Such treats are not a healthy staple of their diet and decrease their fear of humans. That combination increases their chance of being injured or posing a danger to humans — and Jack Russells.