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Emery Barnes Park

barnespkI discovered this downtown park last week with a couple of my university colleagues. Our department research day will take place at the beautiful Scotiabank Dance Centre and we are preparing our presentation that will take the form of a tour. We explored the neighbourhood to scope out a “pedagogical pathway.” This little park on the corner of Davie and Richards is named after Emery Barnes, a longtime provincial politician and a champion of social justice, human rights and the poor. The park has some green space, a water feature, a playground, seating areas, and colourful mosaics scattered here and there. The park was being enjoyed by a group of moms with babies in strollers, a man rolled by in a wheelchair, another person was doing arm presses on one of the benches, kids were swinging and climbing in the play area, dogs and their owners frolicked in the off leash area, which looks like a giant kitty litter box. It looked like it was living up to its purpose of becoming a “social gathering place for all downtown residents.”

It’s quite a lovely little space, an oasis in the midst of tall towers. I tried to find out more about the park on the Vancouver Park Board website, but since the City website has been “modernized,” it has lost all its nutrient-dense content and information-rich downloadable documents. The one link that is operational on the site leads to another “former” park board site that has no active links. I was trying to find out if there are any green features at the park, for example is the “fast moving stream and tiered waterfall” also a storm water management system? And are those unique chessboard tables (pictured above) constructed from recycled sidewalks? We did note that the other benches have armrests, strategically placed at intervals, so there is room to sit, but not to stretch out and catch a few rays or some zees. We surmised that the armrests were there to deter the homeless downtown residents from spending the night. The park may be intended for all downtown residents, it’s just not for those who need a place to sleep I guess. Not sure how Emery Barnes would feel about that subtext.

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