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Residents adjust to life without local park

Victoria Park is the new “go to” place for Grandview-Woodland residents. Grandview Park closed for renovation in August, When the…

By malaguti , in City , on October 28, 2010 Tags: , , ,

More park users go to Victoria Park after Grandview closed for renovation in the summer

Victoria Park is the new “go to” place for Grandview-Woodland residents. Grandview Park closed for renovation in August,

When the Vancouver Parks board announced the temporary closure many residents worried. Grandview Park at Commerical and Charles was considered the key gathering place for events and people in the neighbourhood.

At public meetings residents made presentations about a decrease in social gatherings, the relocation of homeless people, and a rise in crime and littering in other neighbouring parks.

“We used to go a lot to Grandview Park because it was convenient to have it on Commercial Drive, and they had the swings, and a playing area that was smaller for her age,” said Lisa Wamaoka, a mother of a 2-year-old girl and resident of this neighbourhood.

“We have to walk a bit to come to this park [Victoria Park], but this is a nice one.”

Victoria Park, at Victoria and Grant, is a tiny, quiet park several blocks from the Grandview site. Residents of different ages now share the park space as they once did at Grandview Park.

“I have seen the population of people at the park probably tripled, or maybe even more since this park [Grandview Park] was closed,” said Sir Backs, a resident of this community for almost 7 years.

Now, mothers push giggling children on swings.  Dogs run around the spacious green grass area while their owners stroll around the park.

Changes in the community

The City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation overhauled Victoria Park in 2007. The Board upgraded the children’s play area, improved drainage, renovated washrooms and pathways in the park.
Vancouver is spending $1.5 million to renovate Grandview Park

Many Commercial Drive residents initially opposed the $1.5 million renovation plan at Grandview Park when it was announced in 2009.

“There are less opportunities for the community to interface, but there is generally a fall transition, a fall back in activities,” said Cynthia Low, executive director at the Britannia Community Centre.

“But certainly there isn’t as much to the street liveliness on Commercial Face of the park where there used to be sort of the people who could hang around.”

Nonetheless, activities once held at Grandview Park are now being planned for Victoria and Woodland Parks.

“Those kind of formal gatherings are going to be organized at different parks in the local facilities now,”  Low said.

Victoria Park has also become home to residents who are homeless.

“Everybody that used to go to Grandview has gone to Victoria Park,” said Carlos Muyur, a homeless man who lived at Grandview Park for about three years. “Two of us moved to the Victoria Park.” He finds the space colder and more exposed, but it will do until Grandview reopens.

Impact on Victoria Park

The higher influx of people visiting the park generated more litter and trash cans filled faster.

“With more park users, there is more garbage, and that is something that visibly affected people,” said Adrian Archambault, coordinator of the Grandview-Woodland Community Policing Centre.

Residents complained to the City and now garbage is collected more often.

“Since then we haven’t had actually too many complaints about Victoria Park, it seems whatever the concern was, it seems to have been settled down somewhat,“ Archambault said.

Washrooms were the other concern. “When Grandview Park was first closed, we did notice a pretty busy time in the washrooms at Victoria Park, but that is not the case now. They are cleaned daily by our staff,” said Joyce Courtney, communications manager of the City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

Residents also worried about a possible increase in crime.

“There was an initial concern what it was going to be like for them [neighbors of Victoria Park], but it does not seem to have led to an increase of reporting.  I wouldn’t say the reports have increased,” Archambault said.

Yellow steel fences surround Grandview Park. Renovations are on schedule. The park will reopen next spring.

“This is a period of change for Grandview-Woodland,” said Low. “I have no doubt that the community that existed before in Grandview Park will return when the park is reopened.”