I recently spent just over a week in Vancouver, enjoying eating cheap sushi, swimming in warm lakes whilst staring at snowy mountains and searching forests for black bears (didn’t get to see one). However one of the most exciting pieces of Vancouver for me was the crazy number of spots to train parkour and freerunning in the city. Regardless of where you were, incredible architecture had been placed on every block that looked as if it were made to be played on. Terraced water features perfect for strides and precisions, a huge collection of bars and rails next to a park, a library shaped like a coliseum that just happened to have a roof balcony with mad death-drop gaps. The people who built Vancouver knew what they were doing; this architecture is interesting to look at, available to the public and mostly made of grippy materials. Vancouver is a city for parkour.
Unfortunately time was sparse and there were only a few occasions that I was able to train, so you can imagine my excitement and anticipation when I finally jumped on a bus one afternoon to visit the freshly built parkour park in Hastings Park. Having seen what the council of Vancouver City had done with the rest of the city, I had high hopes for this area designed specifically for parkour.
Jesus, do I regret ever wasting my time visiting this place.
I am not usually the type of person to judge a book by its cover, or to think that my opinion is worthy enough for others to read in a blog, however the park changed this. As soon as I saw this cold, dark area with some lime green bars and grey walls shaped very randomly, my enthusiasm to train immediately evaporated. I could tell that the collaboration between the local council and the parkour community to build this park had been very one sided. Costs would have been cut, designs altered and goals missed until the council had what they thought they wanted and Vancouver had something useful only to street-workout artists or fanatics of modern art.
To give the park a chance, I attempted to ignore my first impression and jumped onto the equipment. After 20 minutes of trying to be creative and move around the park, my bewilderment at the stupidity of the design increased until I knew that a person would have to be at least a level 15 Russian in order to find any enjoyment in the place. Where was the ingenuity used to create the architecture within the city? How had the combined effort of the council and freerunners missed the mark so terribly? Had anyone actually considered freerunners or traceurs when building this park?
The quality of this place (or lack of) finally drove me to pick up my camera and take some snapshots, hoping that I would help prevent others from wasting their time visiting the place.
Flick through the slideshow below to see some of my "favourite" features of the park:
Essentially, this place sucked. It sucked enough to get me to write a blog about it. So heed my advice and do not travel to visit Hastings Park. If you are unfortunate enough to be a local, just visit the small playground next door; even that looks infinitely more enjoyable.