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Central Park: The picnic papers

Bouncy castles will be allowed at some park board operated picnic sites across the city this spring and summer, but dunk tanks remain a no-no.

Bouncy castles will be allowed at some park board operated picnic sites across the city this spring and summer, but dunk tanks remain a no-no.

And should you choose to erect a bouncy castle, please ensure you carry at least $3 million in third party liability insurance coverage. Ah, the joys of summer.

The park board is taking reservations for 2012 for its picnic areas through an online reservation system available on its website. Park board spokesperson Joyce Courtney told me the reservation system has been in place for years. She notes its an efficient way for groups, families and companies that want to book corporate functions to reserve a picnic space well in advance.

Groups with fewer than 50 participants may still be spontaneous and picnic on a first-come basis at green spaces across the cityso long as their area of choice is not a designated picnic site and they bring their own tables, chairs and barbecues. Barbecues arent allowed on city beaches, but can be set up on nearby grassy areas.

If a group is larger than 50 people, a permit is required. Should an event include more than 150 guests, the organizers must apply for a special events permit at least two months in advance. Designated picnic sites at Riverfront, Maple Grove and Memorial South Park limit picnics to 75 guests.

The cost to reserve a site with no shelter varies from $60.71 at Fraser River and Memorial South parks to $86.61 at Locarno, Jericho, Maple Grove, New Brighton and Riverfront. Picnic areas with shelters will run you $100 for spots at Second Beach, Trout Lake and at the Miniature Railway site in Stanley Park. The sheltered picnic area at Prospect Point costs $159.82, but that also includes the use of the baseball diamond.

The permits are good from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for picnic lunches or from 4 to 9:30 p.m. for dinner events. Should you reserve a site for a daytime event that runs later than 4 p.m., youll have to pay double. Of course, thats only if the spot is available. Should a group with a reservation for that location show up, picnic basket in hand, youll have to move on.

Any disputes over spaces can be resolved by calling a park ranger for help at 604-861-0450.

For a complete list of which parks offer what amenities and how to book, go to vancouver.ca/parks.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10