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Yaletown's 'park of the future' finally opens at Smithe and Richards

It's been in the works for over seven years and had a $13.8 million budget.
New Yaletown park
The new 0.8 acre park opens on Smithe and Richards in Yaletown.

Downtown Vancouver hasn't seen the opening of a new park in over 10 years and this Yaletown green space has been in development for almost that long.

Seven years ago the Vancouver Park Board announced their intention to turn a 0.8 acre piece of real estate at Smithe and Richards into a park and in 2020 with an almost $14 million budget they finally broke ground.

Tomorrow afternoon (April 29) the yet-unnamed 'multi-dimensional park of the future' as the board is calling it, is set to officially open to the public, a year later than anticipated. It is approximated by the board that this space will become the hardest working park in the city with a reported 10,000 residents and 17,000 employees living and working within a five-minute walk of the area.

The space features a playground with climbing frames, hammocks, seating areas, art installations, and multi-dimensional walkways. Plus architectural curiosities in the form of skyframes.

The demand on green spaces in Vancouver has intensified and as climate anxiety mounts, this park was designed with sustainability as a priority. 6,000 shrubs, perennials, climbers and mature trees, span a third of the park with many paying homage to those used in Indigenous culture as food and medicine.

Rain and water from the plaza’s water feature will be collected, filtered and channelled for irrigation of the garden and flushing the public toilets on site. Or it will be cleaned by aquatic plants before entering the city’s storm sewers.

The crowning jewel of the park will be the latest location of local-roaster Kafka’s, that is expected to open in May and with a green roof and serving fresh pastries, sandwiches, house-baked sourdough bread, and soft-serve ice cream.

During the groundbreaking residents expressed concerns about the upkeep of the park, with people fearing it will suffer the same way some of the other downtown greenspaces have. Director of Planning and Park Development Dave Hutch told the Courier at the time that he hopes the cafe will act as an anchor and bring in a large enough population of visitors (the board is anticipating over 60,000 annually) that it will discourage people from engaging certain behaviours.

"This park marks an important chapter in the transformation of downtown Vancouver. Setting a standard for innovative, high-capacity, three-dimension community spaces, this park demonstrates how to deliver access to nature, leisure, health and community connection in a dense urban setting – and is like nothing Vancouver has seen before,” he says in a recent press release.

A naming ceremony is scheduled for later in June to formally announce the park's name gifted by the host Nations.

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