Been there lately?
Used to be you could stop anywhere in Stanley Park and walk trails, sit at the beach and read among the logs, watch the ships and sailboats in English Bay, have a swim, have a picnic. Of course you still can, but as Vancouver becomes a tourist town, and ejects the locals and born-here people, it has become extremely expensive to visit.
You now must pay for everything. The cost is $3.50 per hour to park anywhere in the park! Some say that is reasonable, but really? What family can afford say $14.00 to take the kids to the zoo, or the Aquarium (more money) or just for a picnic at Second Beach. You can get a daily pass for $17.00 except if you're near some concessions selling lousy food or plastic ice cream. Then you pay more.
You can get a seasons pass for $225.00 but that is good only from April 1 to September 30. After that you must buy another for $120. from Oct 1 to March 30. They don't say if you have to pay extra for Feb 29th.
And parking is controlled by a contracted company outside of the Vancouver Parks
Board, Easy Park. Maybe what is easy about that is their profits for
doing nothing but endlessly circling parking areas. And they simply read
the electronic meters to see if you paid yet, and if you are too damned
slow about it you're nailed for a $40.00 ticket! Including in the
darkness of night. So watching the once famous Nine O'clock gun is out unless you time your drive-by!
Several years ago now, they started charging a fee for the Second Beach pool! They might as well have hung a sign on the new chain link fence saying, 'Rich Kids only please', and Lumberman's Arch pool is gone. I was born and raised in Vancouver and took the Sun Free Swimming
lessons many years ago at Lumberman's Arch pool. They had little
changing tents and taught you the Deadman's Float first. Cost you
So gone are the greenhouses, and the famous rose gardens and a lot of the areas you could sit and dream in are covered with blackberry thorn bushes. The money is certainly not going into maintenance, they had a lawn mower once. Then you could roam the park trails for hours and find quiet reflections at Lost Lagoon or Beaver Lake. (I wonder if that little drinking fountain is still there at a cross-trail south of Prospect Point in the forest?) You could sit on a bench for hours and watch the freighters coming under Lions Gate Bridge. Free. Or wander a trail and come face to face with a lovely quiet doe, or even watch a little skunk herd her brood while ignoring you. Throughout my childhood I spent many hours exploring the seashore and forest. I met Jimmy Cunningham, the builder of the Seawall when he was working on it by Third Beach. And Birder John Rodgers who told me about a third eagle aerie along the west side. I suppose the once largest tennis tournament in the world, the Stanley Park Open is finished too.
I parked at Brockton for years and ran the 10 K Seawall, then had a shower like thousands of other runners and went back to work. No cost.
But as Vancouver redesigns itself as a Resort Town, open mainly to tourists and wealthy visitors, the good things about Vancouver just disappear into the treasure chests of corporations. Lord Stanley's dedication says 'For the use and enjoyment of people of all colours creeds and customs for all time.' Perhaps they should recut a line in that marble - 'Bring money'.
Sadly Vancouver people are being excluded from Vancouver very quickly, The powers that be want you to go in on the train or bus, service the rich foreigners who live there, and then get out back to wherever you actually live. The Vancouver Aquarium keeps trying to take more of the park for what they keep saying is helping marine life, then why do they need a convention center in there? Did you realize the entry to the Aquarium for adults is now $38. and a child is $21. So you park, bring wife and 2 kids to see fish and it costs you $135.00! OMFG!
Further decline of the park. Do any teams still play at Brockton fields. I suppose the Vancouver Rowing club still rows, maybe only in the lounge chairs by the bar? And the Vancouver Yacht Club patrons can still afford to visit their barnacled boats once in a while, but they arrive in Limos with drivers told when to come back. No need to park the Bentley with the unwashed masses.
I am talking about folks forced to live in congested neighborhoods or tiny apartments who want to sit on grass and breath a little fresh air at Burrard Inlet or Prospect Point or walk the Seawall for health. Sorry folks, but you are being excluded. Be careful, that Nine O'clock gun may be shooting at you.
I moved out of Vancouver some time ago because of the costs. As an oldster with limited resources, I just cannot go there now, a $1.00 coin only gets you 10 minutes on the metered streets. And I recently tried a private parking lot, the old Bay Parkade, paid for two hours, got back 7 minutes late and they had a ticket on my car for $127.00! (NEVER going to pay that one)
Stanley Park roads used to be filled on a Sunday as many families went there for nature or picnics. Finding a spot was sometimes hard, but the upside was that thousands of people were there, IN the park, of all colours creeds and customs, enjoying it all. For years the Park Board has been no more than a political organization and should be eliminated entirely and the control of parks returned to Vancouver City.
And although some may see this as a bitch, I think of it as a lament for the thousands of Vancouver born or unrich people being driven out of their own town. Taking away the chance of a little recreation or quiet contemplation only makes the evicted a little more angry.
Those parking fees in Stanley Park should be like $1. per hour. Or eliminated entirely. Filling the park with people enjoying it should be the goal, not the anathema. Seeking solitude shouldn't have you seething with irritation over parking fees. And we can only wonder how long we'll be able to drive through it without having to pay a road toll.
Welcome to Resort Vancouver, the Gucci store is over there.