Park Improvements Update

For years, the SRA has lobbied the Park Board to make Strathcona Park more resident-friendly. In 2021, we did a resident survey that yielded ten recommendations. We were told that any improvements depended on the

2023-2026 Capital Plan, which was passed last year, allocating $107 the various park amenities, noting a need to renew and enhance local parks, naming Strathcona Park as a “potential location.”We recently reached out to Doug Shearer, Park Board’s Manager of Planning, Policy & Environment, for an update on where things stand. Though he reassured that “staff are reviewing available resources for any potential quick-wins for Strathcona,” he cautioned that “While the allocation of $107 million in the 2023-2026 Capital Plan sounds like a lot, many of the line items in that category are specific to certain parks, with the balance spread across the many deserving parks in the city.”  Which means don’t hold your breath.

What about the off-leash dog area that was in the works two years ago? “Resources are currently allocated to several in-progress dog off-leash areas in high-priority neighbourhoods and/or deficit areas as identified by the Park Board’s People, Parks and Dogs Strategy. Renewal of the off-leash area at Strathcona Park is identified as a priority OLA project after these in-progress projects are completed.”

What about the gravel field, which rarely seems to be used by anyone, particularly at night, especially when there are much nicer soccer fields at Trillium and David Livingstone. The lights were recently removed due to an electrical problem. “Replacement of the lights around the sports field is already in the works – I understand the field is regularly booked but not heavily used.” Not sure what that means.

Repair of the sinkhole/tennis courts is also still on hold.

Reality check: Despite Park Board policy declarations for equity and a UBC study showing Strathcona Park to be the least equitable in the city, no improvements are coming anytime soon.
Will eliminating the Park Board change any of this? Unlikely. The root of the problem is, not surprisingly, money. Park Board capital budgets have been declining for years. According to the recently released Mayor’s Budget Task Force Report, property tax increases cannot cover growing infrastructure costs (this year running a $500 million deficit). The recommended solutions: cut costs further and better manage or sell city assets. Neither bodes well for Strathcona Park.