Letter to Park Board
October 26, 2021
Dear Park Board Commissioners and Staff;
The Strathcona Residents Association urges the Park Board to prioritize Strathcona Park for a master plan and renewal in the upcoming 2023-26 Capital Plan.
Strathcona is a socially and economically diverse neighbourhood. According to CoV stats, 52% of Strathcona residents have incomes below the poverty line, 50% live in subsidized housing, 80% live in apartments, and 22% of residents are seniors. We are home to both Vancouver’s largest Indigenous and largest Chinese-speaking populations. Many recent refugee families from the Middle East and Africa were re-settled here. Many of these residents have limited access to parks to take their kids to play, celebrate a birthday, walk their dog, get some exercise, or simply enjoy nature. We need a neighbourhood park large and diverse enough to serve the needs of all our residents.
Of the four parks within a five-minute walk, three (Andy Livingston, Trillium and Strathcona) are classified as sports hubs and predominantly serve soccer and baseball leagues from outside the neighbourhood. Our only truly neighbourhood park is the 1.2-hectare MacLean Park, which is frequently overwhelmed and over-capacity. Though it has a splash park and playground, there are only enough shaded areas to accommodate 2-3 picnic groups at a time. There are few, if any, amenities for teens, seniors, community groups or anyone wanting to exercise, socialize or simply enjoy some peace and quiet. Officially, it is not an off-leash dog park, though many dog owners use it because there are no other easily accessible options, especially on the weekend when other parks are rented out to visiting sports teams.
The much larger 10-hectare Strathcona Park ought to be our primary greenspace. It currently includes three baseball diamonds, two poorly maintained tennis courts, a rarely used gravel soccer pitch, a basketball court, a small skate park, an ageing playground and climbing wall, three picnic tables, and four benches. The fieldhouse washroom has not been updated since the park first opened and is in dire need of an upgrade.
The eastern half of the park was only recently re-opened after months of remediation due to the damage caused by the country’s largest homeless encampment. This stressful experience for our community closed the entire park for over a year. A major redesign and renewal will demonstrate that the Park Board acknowledges and cares about the people who live and work here.
Renewal of Strathcona Park will put into action VanPlay’s mission statement that “All people and communities in Vancouver… deserve the right to access quality parks, recreation and nature…”
It would also honour many of VanPlay’s goals:
- Grow and renew parks, community centres and other assets.
- Keep pace with population growth and evolving needs.
- Prioritize delivery of resources where they are needed most.
- Foster a system of parks and recreation spaces that are safe and welcoming to all.
- Adapt to climate change and restore wild spaces by planting more shade trees and native plants.
- Address reconciliation by incorporating local First Nation input into the design.
- Bring much-needed equity to this city’s most underserved Initiative Zone.
We urge you to set aside funding for both re-design and construction in the 2023-26 Capital Plan. Our recent survey of residents yielded ten specific recommendations for improvement.
Strathcona Residents Association