An evening view of the lit up walkway at the Smithe and Richards park

A park of the future: New Yaletown hotspot opens tomorrow

This park will be a gathering place in the city like no other. It’s a symbol of connection to one another, to the land, and an opportunity to build further collaboration with the host Nations for education, programming, and artwork.

Stuart Mackinnon, Park Board Chair

April 28 2022 –

The wait is finally over. What started as a modest 0.8 acre plot of downtown real estate has been transformed into a multi-dimensional park of the future, for over 60,000 expected annual residents, workers, and visitors – and it opens to the public tomorrow afternoon.

Connecting with our community

It has been over 10 years since a new park was created in downtown Vancouver. Within that time, the city’s downtown has boomed with new residents and workers, with demand on greenspaces intensifying like never before. Rising to the challenge, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation has created not only a space that pushes the boundaries of park design, but one that creates a unique opportunity for people to connect to the unceded land they are on.

“This park will be a gathering place in the city like no other. It’s a symbol of connection to one another, to the land, and an opportunity to build further collaboration with the host Nations for education, programming, and artwork,” says Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “I'm beyond excited for the communities that make up this city to unite in the burst of colour and joy this park brings to the downtown core.”

“This park marks an important chapter in the transformation of downtown Vancouver. Setting a standard for innovative, high-capacity, three-dimension community spaces, this park demonstrates how to deliver access to nature, leisure, health, and community connection in a dense urban setting – and is like nothing Vancouver has seen before,” said Dave Hutch, Director of Planning and Park Development at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. “This is a place where people can live, work, socialize, and play in their neighbourhood. It’s about building community, creating complete neighbourhoods, and we cannot wait for people to enjoy a whole new take on what a downtown park can be.”

Extensive public engagement shaped the design of the park. Answering residents’ and workers’ needs for more areas to gather, play, enjoy public art, and connect, this 0.8 acre site has been transformed by innovative design to offer dynamic play areas, climbing frames, hammocks, cozy seating nooks, art installations, towering skyframes, and multi-dimensional walkways that go far beyond the traditional concept of a park.

The playground at the Smithe and Richards park

Designed with sustainability and climate resilience in mind

Projected as the hardest working park in the city, the site will serve over 10,000 residents and 17,000 employees who live and work within a five-minute walk of the area.

Designed with sustainability in mind, this park strengthens our climate resilience as a city. A third of the park is planted with over 6,000 shrubs, perennials, climbers, and mature trees, many of which are significant to and used in Indigenous culture, food, and medicine. Rain and water from the plaza’s water feature is collected, filtered, and channeled for irrigation and flushing toilets, or cleaned by aquatic plants before entering the city’s storm sewers. The on site café is designed with a 30% reduction in energy use and features a green roof.

More than just a park, this project is a significant step on the path of decolonizing the city through parks and greenspace and connecting thousands of park visitors to the unceded territory they are standing on. In collaboration with Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Park Board staff will help to tell the story of this unceded land and those who have stewarded it since time immemorial, through art installations, and cultural programming. An official naming ceremony will announce the name gifted by the host Nations for this park in June 2022.

Our partnership with an independent Vancouver coffee roaster

Finally, the Park Board has partnered with independent Vancouver coffee roaster, Kafka’s, to run the on-site café. Known for building neighbourhood hubs, Kafka’s will offer their renowned friendly service, locally-roasted coffee, fresh pastries and sandwiches, and house-baked sourdough bread, along with soft-serve ice cream, available only at the park. Clad with Douglas fir carpentry and shimmering artist-crafted mobiles that cast rainbow colours across the urban backdrop, the café seamlessly blends into the park through a dramatic folding window-wall that opens up to the plaza in warmer weather. Kafka’s in the Park is expected to open in May.

Watch a short documentary on the story of this new park

Get updates and learn more about the park