British Columbia

Need more free things to do? Tiny parks catch on in Vancouver

The new parklet in front of the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House is the size of two parking stalls.

'We wanted to make a public space that's visible to a really diverse group of neighbours'

Children help decorate the space at the newly-created parklet on Prince Albert Street in East Vancouver. (Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House)

East Vancouver has a new park. And it's tiny.

Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, a registered charity neighbourhood hub that offers events, childcare and community programs, has converted two parking stalls in front of its building into a mini park, or parklet.

The new gathering space on the corner of East Broadway and Prince Albert Street includes an enclosed patio with seating and a garden. 

Jenny van Enckevort, communications coordinator for the neighbourhood house, told CBC's Margaret Gallagher she hopes the tiny park will serve as an invitation for people to visit and use the neighbourhood house. 

The parklet is meant to be viewed as an accessible front porch for the whole neighbourhood.

From left to right, Jenny Kwan, Jocelyne Hamel (Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House), Melanie Mark, and Ian Stewart (Viva Vancouver) cut the ribbon on the opening day of the new parklet. (Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House)

"We wanted to make a public space that's visible to a really diverse group of neighbours that live near us," van Enckevort told the CBC.

This is the first parklet sponsored by a non-profit organization, according to van Enckevort.

Parklets first started popping up in Vancouver a few years ago, but have always been sponsored by businesses and organizations, with the city's approval.

This new parklet was a collaboration between neighbourhood house, Viva Vancouver and the Projects and Places Society, among others. 

Jenny van Enkevort (left) and Abeer Yusuf from Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House share the new parklet community space together. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Volunteers built most of the parklet over the course of a weekend, van Enckevort said.

Other parklets can be seen in front of businesses on streets like Main or Commercial Drive. They often look like an extension of a business, but are actually open to anyone to use.

It's a good place for a quick rest, especially for seniors, said van Enckevort. 

Abeer Yusuf, a volunteer at the Mountain Pleasant Neighbourhood House, immigrated from Malaysia to Canada five years ago.

"Coming to the neighbourhood house and seeing a diversity of languages … people from different cultural and class backgrounds … it really warms my heart because this is the kind of place I want to say I belong to," Yusuf said.

The new parklet has accessible seating for seniors and people with mobility devices, and a community chalkboard for children to draw on. 

Vancouver's new parklet is located on East Broadway and Prince Albert Street. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

The parklet will also function as an art share space for queer and trans youth.

Listen to the full story: 

With files from The Early Edition.

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