Is Metro Vancouver really kid-friendly?

Post by Daniel Fontaine in ,


West Edmonton Mall is a haven for families wanting to have year-round fun

Last weekend I read a story about how Kamloops, BC is about to get a $200 million dollar investment for a new theme destination water park. I read that column just after my son and I were viewing a Youtube video of West Edmonton Mall’s indoor theme park. This got me thinking, is Metro Vancouver really that kid friendly?

Unless you want to take your kids to one of the local community pools, (most of which are falling apart and lack any good waterslides or kids play areas), I’m hard pressed to think of a year-round attraction in Metro Vancouver that has huge appeal to kids under the age of 8 years old.

In his toddler years, I did take my son to both Science World and the Aquarium. Both are fantastic kid-friendly venues, however they are limited in their “repeat” effect. What I mean is kids only want to go back to these venues so many times before the novelty begins to wear out.

Where in Metro Vancouver can you find a really good indoor theme park that kids can go to year-round? Even the outdoor waterparks are nowhere near where the majority of the population lives. Cultus Lake water park is fun, but it’s a good two hour drive out of downtown Vancouver.

During spring break, BC Place does come alive with something called PlayDome. This indoor theme park is great, but it’s only lasts for a couple of weeks.

Metro Vancouver simply needs a better variety of indoor, year-round attractions for families. And before all you outdoor snobs tell me I should bundle up and head to the local ski hills, kayak on Burrard Inlet or go hiking up Grouse Mountain...forget it. I make no apologies for the fact I don’t consider getting sopping wet or strapping on a set of snow shoes as my idea of fun.

The natural place to look at putting some sort of permanent, year round attraction would be Hastings Park, which is already home to Playland (open during the summer) and the Pacific National Exhibition. Perhaps the time has come to encourage the management at Playland to thing big, and look at constructing some sort of year-round facility that would appeal to families with young children.

Surely if a private investor can be found to construct a new $200 million water theme park in Kamloops, someone would be interested in building something in as prestigious a location as Hastings Park.

Of course this would be controversial in Vancouver where a debate can break out on something as simple as what colour the sky is. However, if the Mayor and Council want to demonstrate leadership, generate new economic activity and appeal to family voters, perhaps the time has come for this discussion.

I know from personal experience that there are a lot of families in Metro Vancouver that would love nothing more than for Hastings Park to become home to a new year-round all-weather attraction for kids. It would help to solve the age old question posed to parents “What are we going to do today”. What do you think?


There are so many great Vancouver kid friendly venues! Granville Island's Kids Market and Arts Umbrella, the International Children's festival, a variety of museums and public places, lots of seasonal events have a kids component, like the Cloverdale Rodeo, Dragon Boats, and the great outdoors. One can always improve - I do agree that waterparks are fun places - but they are quite expensive to build so taxpayer funded mega-pool-plexes might not be a good way to go.

Ever been to West Edmonton Mall lately? It is turing into a huge beige elephant - its a dump! The water park pool is stained on the bottom, algae grows in the slides that are seldome opened, Capital Health repeatedly has written them up for health violations. And the rest of the mall needs a facelift badly.

You don't have faith in the "Hastings Park Updated Implementation Plan"?

A year round attraction is the IMAX theatre where there's always a nice variety of movies. And believe me when I say it, but ask anyone from Edmonton if they would rather spend their time at West Edmonton Mall or Stanley Park, and I guarantee you that everyone would say Stanley Park !

There may not yet be a large, indoor, multi-purpose family-friendly recreational facility in Metro YVR, but there is no shortage of child and family-friendly things to do that don't need to involve something as ambitious as the Grouse Grind (as great as that is).
It's true that many of these options are outdoors, but that's because Metro YVR is so blessed with such a fantastic outdoor environment.
A quick addition to your list of recreation possibilities is Riverport in Richmond. There's Watermania (waterslides and wave pool), bowling, movie theatres and skate rink all within walking distance of each other. Add a visit & walk to the dyke near the residential area to see the tug boats on the Fraser, and you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the amenities of this one part of Metro.

Check out!

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