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Water’s Edge: Fun facts on oceanfront park life in Metro Vancouver

Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, May 10, 2016

You can skimboard at Jericho Beach, ride your bike along the Richmond dikes and hunt for crabs at Ambleside park in West Vancouver.

How has Metro Vancouver done at keeping access to the ocean open to the public? How much of our waterfront is blocked off by condo walls or industrial gates?

According to real estate data provided by Landcor Data Corp and analyzed by The Sun, 45 per cent of the shoreline from White Rock to South Surrey is some type of green space that is mostly accessible to the public. This adds up to more than 12,000 acres lining the ocean, used for playing fields, beaches, wildlife reserves, green belts, recreational facilities and more.

There are, no doubt, a myriad of opinions on whether this is adequate or not.

The U.S. non-profit organization Trust for Public Land produced a report in 2015 indicating the percentage of high-density American cities dedicated to parkland. The top was Honolulu with 33 per cent (12,000 acres), followed by Washington, D.C. at 22 per cent (8,500 acres) and New York at 21 per cent (39,000 acres).

The Landcor data just measures the proportion of our parks along the oceanfront, not for Metro’s entire cities, and includes other areas besides beaches and playing fields, such as dikes and tidal lands.

Our 10 largest parks on the water is a diverse list that represents the different types of green spaces that can be found along the Pacific Ocean; they include tidal land near Deltaport, Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver’s leafy west side, a wildlife research centre in Delta, Iona Island in Richmond and Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver.

Vancouver’s most famous green space, Stanley Park, is 996 acres and has an assessed value of $2.4 billion — the third largest oceanfront park and the most valuable. Landcor, though, defined waterfront properties as those that were not separated from the ocean by a road, so large swaths of Stanley Park should technically not be included in this data.

This map shows the location of oceanfront green spaces, the most being found in Vancouver, West Vancouver and Delta. Hover over the dots for more information about location, type of park and B.C. Assessment value. (To move the map around, under the arrow menu choose the cross with the pointy ends then click on the map and slide your mouse left or right, up or down.)

B.C. Assessment provided a value for all the parks along the water, and some of the price tags are shocking. The 10 most expensive parks are all in Vancouver.

Pacific Spirit Park, at 1,805 acres, is valued at an eye-popping $1.9 billion. Three portions of Jericho Beach, adding up to almost 100 acres, is worth a combined $765 million. English Bay Beach, at 40 acres, is valued at $303 million.

This map shows the largest green spaces along Metro’s waterfront; the larger the circle, the bigger the park.

On Thursday, we will analyze commercial properties along the waterfront.

In an effort to define our oceanfront, The Sun asked for help from Landcor, a New Westminster-based firm that specializes in analyzing real estate data. Landcor matched B.C. Assessment data with other shoreline data sets to create a spreadsheet of 9,518 oceanfront properties between Lions Bay and South Surrey. Landcor excluded all addresses that were separated from the coast by another property, a road or railway (with the exception of the BNSF Railway in White Rock.) The Sun then analyzed that data to produce the maps and graphics for this series.