For many Vancouverites, thoughts of Hastings Park usually conjure up images of thundering thoroughbreds, mini doughnuts, catapulting roller coasters and memories of epic battles on the lush, green gridiron of Empire Stadium. However, today, nestled under the magnificent wooden and perhaps rickety track of Vancouver’s famous and most historic roller coaster lies a family-friendly outdoor park. One of our city’s largest urban recreation areas, Hastings Park is the go-to destination for play!
I stumbled upon Hastings Park while cycling the Cassier Bikeway. Immediately, I found myself captivated. From vibrant, beautiful and serene green spaces to adrenaline-pumping skateboard parks the area has something for everyone. Not wanting to miss any of the action, I decided to hop off my bicycle and take a slow leisurely stroll through the active zone. Fittingly, I began my tour at the Landy Bannister sculpture, honouring the Miracle Mile. As I observed the weekend warriors jogging around the newly installed rubberized track, I wondered if they were inspired by the famous race between Roger Bannister of England and Australia’s John Landy. It was at this site, in 1954, when these two incredible athletes ran a mile in less than four minutes in the same race.
Fueled by thoughts of athletic supremacy, I continued my walk through the park and discovered a myriad of sports courts and activity areas including:
- Beach Volleyball
- Outdoor Fitness Equipment
- Ping Pong
- Bike Skill Park
- Soccer Pitches
Not just for elite athletes, the children’s area boasts a brilliant playground featuring climbing walls, a massive rope tower, bridge, and swings. Originally, named Plateau Park Playground, during a recent renaming initiative, the city engaged in a public consultation process with our youngest citizens. Children from the adjacent Kiwassa Neighbourhood House daycare were asked for suggestions. Voila, based on feedback from the under six crowd, the area has officially been renamed Slidey Slides! Leave it to say, I can personally attest to the fact that the slides are indeed slidey!
After my turn on the slidey slides, I made my way to the Leeside Skate Park, which is, in fact, a repurposed transit tunnel under the Cassiar Connector. I stopped to observe a boarder in action. As he ollied, kickflipped and carved, it struck me that Hastings Park exemplified the best of our city. Young and old, active and sedentary folk, from all walks of life, have made this park their own. Perhaps, the Urban Reef modular bench installation, a social catalyst, says it best: sit, relax, engage and enjoy.
With views of the North Shore Mountains, Hastings Park is located at 2901 East Hastings Street and easily accessible by transit and bike. Look for Playland and the giant coaster!