La vapoteuse ; A day in the park: How our urban public spaces challenge and connect us

What we didn’t do, though, was give our park — our youth, our community — over to gun violence. Instead, a group of us came together to reclaim the park and celebrate it, particularly all those kids who use it every day. 

“Party in the Park,” including a basketball competition, was the result of many brainstorming sessions. But despite my enthusiasm for the Toronto Raptors and my high school days as a point guard, I knew we’d need help.

One day after playing in the park with my son, I saw a flyer in the community centre, “Free Basketball training for Overbrook Youth. Contact Manock”.

In the end, I just showed up to one of his basketball practices and we started chatting. Five minutes in, I knew Manock was our guy: his passion for the game and the kids, his love for Overbrook and the fact that he did not blink an eye while my son wreaked havoc on his class with his toddler-level enthusiasm. 

Fast-forward to September, 2019, and there were 40 players on the court while 60 others cheered them on. And the community links forged during this event have endured, even through COVID-19. Manock Lual, CEO of Prezdential Media, now leads the neighbourhood safety committee, which raised money to fill backpacks with school supplies, a T-shirt and a reusable mask for local youth.

Parks connect us to nature. But they also connect us to each other — making our communities stronger, no matter what.

Marie-Caroline Badjeck is an Overbrook resident, a rapidly developing neighbourhood close to downtown Ottawa, and a volunteer for the Overbrook Community Association, where she works on environmental and youth initiatives.

Marie-Caroline Badjeck.

‘Like so many immigrant families, parks were our backyards’

For Zahra Ebrahim, whose family immigrated from Nairobi to Vancouver, parks were an extension of their backyard, and a place to foster a sense of belonging in a new country.

I have few photos of our first years in Canada.

We moved from Nairobi to Vancouver when I was eight months old. It was a time of transition for my parents, both in their twenties, carrying dreams and two kids under 3, trying to figure out how their new life might support both.

Back in Kenya, my grandparents had owned a film and camera shop, which meant that every family moment, every family minute, really, was documented. In this new reality of ours, where time and resources were scarce, the taking and developing of photos didn’t happen at the same pace. But I did notice recently, that the precious few photos I do have are always in public parks.

Like so many immigrant families, parks were our backyards. Our weekends were filled with their barbecues, jungle gyms, gathering places. It’s where we met friends and the first place we took extended family members who had just landed in town. We were always in the park.

This photo, taken in Queen Elizabeth Park — a sprawling, lush, urban park in downtown Vancouver — is one of the first photos my parents took and developed, and every time I see it, I feel such deep joy. Mostly because the contentment seen on my face is the exact same as it is today when I’m in a park. I know that it was the consistency with which we made public spaces an extension of our home that shaped the sense of belonging I feel today, and instilled in me a sense of responsibility for public space. Growing up, parks were all possibility: spaces for play, togetherness, reflection, celebration, and creativity. If you see me in a park today, I don’t look much different than I do in this picture — barefoot in the grass and smiling.

Parks remain an essential service for so many individuals and families now. The risks to public health that have us encircling the jungle gyms in caution tape are understandable, there are so many unknowns about the pandemic we continue to face, and yet, at the same time it’s important that while we tell people what they cannot do, we must also encourage what they can.

The process of rebuilding from COVID-19 will need to include a strategy for leveraging the power of parks to do what they’re best at: bringing us together, and holding space for all of our stories.

Zahra Ebrahim is a public interest designer and the co-founder of Monumental, a new organization focused on equitable urban and institutional recovery from COVID-19. 

Zahra Ebrahim.

No adult supervision, all adventure

Adrian Crook grew up in the suburbs of Port Moody, B.C., by the edge of a park and ocean trail. It was where he learned risk, he writes, critical to fostering children’s independence.

Old Orchard Park taught me risk.

I was five years old when my family moved from East Vancouver to the suburbs of Port Moody, and a park at the northern terminus of a 2.5-kilometre trail tracing the water’s edge at Burrard Inlet.

The trail was my highway growing up, letting me walk or bike on my own to all the destinations a kid could want: Rocky Point pool, the rec centre or the ice rink.

But I had most of what I needed in Old Orchard Park, with its exciting but unforgiving concrete, rope and timber playground — nothing but hard ground underneath.

If I was ever supervised, it was back before I was old enough to remember. As much as I loved the park, my parents likely loved it more, for keeping me outside of the house all day.

The park’s beach provided a launching point for my ill-advised treks across the muddy flats left behind by the retreating tide. By the end of summer, my feet were a crosshatched mess of barnacle scars, inflicted whenever I stepped deep into tidal muck before my foot scraped to a halt on a rock.

As a teenager of no more than 13 or 14, I dragged our kayak or aluminum boat with outboard motor down to the same beach, exploring areas as far off as Deep Cove with no one but my friend Daniel. His parents were the caretakers of Old Orchard Park, and lived in a small, mid-1900s house that sat on park grounds.

I don’t recall doing that thing most people do at beaches: laying in the sun. Instead, I hunted for small fish and crabs I could catch by hand, chasing them while bent in half at the waist, squinting through the glare on the water’s surface.

Today, the park’s been upgraded. There’s a dedicated bike and stroller path around the entire inlet, and the portions of the old foreshore trail that used to be no more than muck have foot bridges. The old play structures were razed long ago and replaced with equipment that looks to have passed many levels of government approvals before installation.

But Old Orchard Park remains mostly the same. The small “island” just off the beach that I would often wade to. The covered BBQ area my high school friend Grant and I played soccer under when it rained. The picnic tables that gave me an ideal surface to write on or jump off.

Today, I live with my five kids in a 1,000 square-foot apartment in downtown Vancouver. Nearby parks are still central to my family’s life.

But while parks are as great as ever, the world’s changed around them. Today’s kids are rarely trusted to use parks alone, and that’s an incalculable loss to parents and children. For me and many of my generation and before, parks were how we found our independence. For every kid there should be an Old Orchard Park. Parks can be that again.

Adrian Crook is the co-founder of two non-profits focused on rental housing and public transit, as well as an advocate for raising independent children. 

No park? No problem

Paint-chipped metal bars marked the end of a cracked asphalt parking lot — and Lezlie Lowe’s chosen park-place in the Dartmouth, N.S., of the 1980s.

The black bars.

They were our second home — scrappy, paint-chipped metal tubes marking the end of a cracked asphalt parking lot for the adjacent low-rise apartment building. The black bars couldn’t have stopped a car from careening down the small hill of dust, weeds and cigarette butts.

And they never stopped us, either.

We neighbourhood kids could heft our hips up onto them and swing head-first in a 360, our feet slamming back onto the ground at completion.

We were gap-toothed; sticky from Freezies. But in our mind’s eye, we were grace incarnated on those bars. In the sometimes-wretched urbanity of deep north Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, this was our chosen exercise, our chosen leisure spot. Our chosen park.

Of course, there were park-like places — the yard of a nearby apartment building, and a wooded-by-way-of-neglect scrap of land between the school and the rink where we scanned the path for discarded Playboy magazines. There was a playground, too, with always-broken swings, a tennis court, and a giant metal caterpillar climbing structure with a painted-on smile.

The caterpillar was class-A terrifying — too high, too rusty. The tennis courts? This was low-income 1980s Nova Scotia. The only use for a tennis court was as a place for small children to master the transition from tricycle to two-wheeler.

At the black bars?

We swung. We sailed. We were Katarina Witt, sans figure skates. We were Mary Lou Retton, fat rolls escaping our terry-cloth tube tops.

No park. No problem. Needs must.

Recently, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I relied on that mantra when all municipal and provincial parks were off limits to encourage social distancing.

My daily morning jaunt through the Halifax park across from my house halted, I walked blocks and endless blocks with my dog.

There was no more off-leash time, no more running and chasing. No more scouting the treetops to see if the family of cardinals had returned. No more nipping into the park’s forest trails to walk together silently on the spongey path of fallen needles, both of us sniffing.

During COVID-19, we instead stalked the sidewalks.

Needs must.

Lezlie Lowe is the author of No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs.

Even the word ‘pavilion’ was magical

For Prairie girl Mary Wiens, accustomed to wide-open spaces plowed for work, the grand pavilion at Assiniboine Park was a revelation — a landscape designed entirely for play.

Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, wide-open spaces were as natural to me as breathing.

But the man-made landscapes of plowed and tended fields were designed for work. Assiniboine Park — in Winnipeg, an hour away by car — was another matter.

Its swathes of manicured grass and gently curving roads were designed for pleasure, lending dignity and grandeur to family outings, a crowd that included my grandfather, plenty of cousins, uncles and aunts.

The drive to the city after the Sunday morning church service must have been carefully planned by our mothers. They brought picnic baskets filled with egg salad sandwiches, rhubarb platz, thermoses of coffee and mason jars of lemonade, wrapped in towels to keep them cold.

I don’t remember the planning. What I do remember is the Pavilion. Its steeply pitched gables and formal pergolas, even the word pavilion, were magical. As was the park’s zoo, expanded by the time I visited as a child to 80 acres including ducks, porcupines, gazelles, buffalo and monkeys.

But all of these wonders were mere warm-up acts to the true stars — the polar bears.

Diving and splashing in a new enclosure, unveiled in 1967, that year of Centennial optimism, the bears looked as sleekly mid-century modern as their surroundings, their streamlined bodies merging smoothly into small heads and long, pointed snouts.

On those golden summer Sundays, we finished with one last gathering around the picnic baskets, the ice cubes in the mason jars long since melted, before we were corralled into our respective fathers’ cars. We were farm families and the evening milking and chores couldn’t wait, so we left gazing through rear windows at the park still glowing in the late afternoon sun.

At 17, I left the farm to take my first job in Winnipeg. I lived in a neighbourhood with plenty of cheap apartments on the second floors of houses with fading painted exteriors — and just a 20-minute bike ride from Assiniboine Park.

I began to stretch my cultural muscles. The first time I saw ballet was on a summer evening in the park, the Pavilion serving as a backdrop to the free performance.

Forty years later, I’ve seen many ballets, many pavilions. I am lucky enough to have lived in the long, green shadows of not one, but two great parks.

But it was Assiniboine Park that taught me first, and many more generations of children after me, to expect largesse, generosity and dignity in public spaces built with public funds — and to see summer pavilions as a wondrous architectural miracle.

Mary Wiens is a journalist and producer with CBC’s Toronto radio show Metro Morning. 

Mary Wiens.

What is a park?

Dr. Raquel Feroe writes that it is a place to learn and observe a new relationship to nature and to one another.

Now that I’m older, my days often start the same way — a walk in Edmonton’s Dawson Park with both my two-footed and four-footed housemates.

People ask if I get bored going to the same park every day. To which I answer: Does life get richer with time? Can relationships grow?

As is typical, by the end of our walk my husband has carefully selected spots for the dog to “do her business.” She tucks her offerings in the undergrowth, discrete, unlike the coyotes who leave their piles right in the middle of the shared path. Because of peer teachings and expectations, I pick up the dog poop but leave the coyote scat alone. Sometimes I feel conflicted putting these “gifts” in the trash can.

Recently, on a stop do my own business, I was surprised by two new additions to the park’s staff. “Can we help you?” they asked, as I entered the washroom.

It’s so nice to be greeted. (Note, my dog taught me that.)

I learned later that the washroom attendants had been hired by a social enterprise working with people who are hard to employ because of addiction recovery issues, legal issues, and the like.

I thanked them for being in the park, and we got into a long discussion. I explained that I am used to city staff being in the park with loud two-stroke engines polluting the air in an effort to win the “war on weeds.

“White man brings the weeds then tries to destroy the weed,” said the bathroom attendant. “Good luck.”

Parks are all about relationships and it’s not complicated. Here’s some of what I’ve learned on my walks with two- and four-footed companions:

  • Wag your tail when you greet a tree or a leaf roller.
  • Observe and learn.

People can be in good relationships with the land and learn how to be in better relationships with each other by just being in a park. I am left wondering if urban parks could become a model for how we could  shift to a new view of prosperity, too. One that:

  • Better respects nature and people.
  • Offers more blue and green “infrastructure” such as modeled by beaver.
  • Creates opportunities for more park attendants, park ambassadors and interpreters.
  • Gives priority to people power (labour) instead of carbon (two-stroke engines).
  • Stops the war on weeds and embraces coexisting in the right relationship with nature.

I am going to keep thinking about this possibility and what it might look like. I am going to think more about the question: “What is a park?”

Dr. Raquel “Rocky” Feroe is a specialist in internal medicine in Alberta and a member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. 

Raquel Feroe.

PromoMeilleure Vente n° 1
Nebula Edge CBD Vape Pen Vape Kit de Vape pour CBD E-Liquid & CBD Oil (Sans nicotine ni tabac).
  • CBD Stylo Vape Parfait pour CBD E-Liquid pas de nicotine
  • Fonctionnement sans boutons - Dessinez quand vous voulez. Le coffre-fort s'occupe de tout.
  • Connexion magnétique - Connectez facilement le réservoir au nebula Edge à l'aide d'un verrouillage magnétique.
  • Portable - Se glisse dans la paume de votre main et s'emporte facilement n'importe où.
  • Vente interdite aux personnes âgées de moins de 18 ans. En effectuant une commande de ce produit sur, vous certifiez avoir plus de 18 ans
PromoMeilleure Vente n° 2
Ciberate Cigarettes Electroniques Vape Pen Starter Kit cbd Vaping Cartouche de Cartouche Céramique Recharges pour Vape E Juice E-Liquide CBD Huile de Chanvre Céramique Bobine sans Nicotine ni Tabac
  • Complete Kits - 1x 1100 mAh battery, 2x cartridges (empty), 1x USB cord, 1x user manual, and everything packed in a soft zipper case for super portability. Put in your pocket, also fit in your bags, vape anytime, anywhere!
  • Innovative Creation - The ceramic coil technology takes vaping to higher level with unprecedented pure and intense vapor production for both normal e-liquid and CBD hemp oil.
  • Freshness maximization - Different from the plastic cartridges on the market that give you nasty taste, this cartridge is made of stainless steel, Pyrex glass and ceramic to maximize the freshness of the oil and e juice.
  • Long-Last Battery Power - Come with an 1100mAh high capacity battery which offers ample power for everyday use. It can be charged easily with micro USB power sources.
  • Quality Assured, Valuable - Strictly in lab tested, can be used with both CBD and normal e liquid. Size of the cartridge is 1.0ml, not exceeding 2ml. We provide 24/7 customers service and whole life money-back guarantee. (Sans nicotine Ni Tabac)
PromoMeilleure Vente n° 3
Mini Cigarette électronique Kit Complet,SELENE mini Kit de Vape avec Function Automatique Pour Débutant,Offert1 Atomiseurs de Rechange,Design,N‘inclus pas de liquide de nicotine ni tabac. (Noir)
  • Technologie de chauffage révolutionnaire: Les bobines en céramique innovantes chauffent de manière homogène pour un goût plus pur et une fumée plus épaisse en comparaison aux mèches en coton qui peuvent contaminer votre bouffée.
  • Utilisation facile:Appuyez sur le bouton 5 fois de suite pour allumer/éteindre.SELENE adopte une conception aérodynamique, donc seulement une vapote complet et longue peut vomir beaucoup de fumée.Et puis,le joint au haut du réservoir garantit une expérience sans-fuite à chaque bouffée. Et il n’est pas aussi facile à fuir quand vous la porter sur le corps.
  • Mode de préchauffage:On adopte une autre conception du mode préchauffage.Lorsque la batterie est en mode veille, appuyez deux fois de suite sur le bouton pour passer en état de préchauffage constant à 150°C. A ce moment-là,vous n’avez plus besoin de appuyer le boutotn,dès que vous vapotez,la machine fonctionne et le Led indicateur sera lumineux.Et elle va arrêter de fonctionner automatiquement dès que vous ne l’utilisez pas.Pour plus de details, vous pouvez lire attentivement le mode d'emploi
  • Remplissage sans difficulté:On vous offre une flacon à aiguille pour remplir la liquid plus facilement.Une recharge de la e-liquide vous permets de vapoter environ 400 bouffées(équivalent à 30 cigarette).Et on vous offert gratuitement 1 atomiseurs de rechange.Si vous avez besoin de le changer fréquemment, vous pouvez trouver les bobines en vente sur notre boutique. Remarque:On peut remplir tout les sels de nicotine e-liquide ou l'huile de CBD/THC.
  • Satisfaction de la garantie: Si vous rencontrez des problèmes concernant du produit,vous pouvez obtenir le remboursement complet dès que vous retournez le produit à Amazon pendant 3 mois. Et pour des conseilles concernant de l'utilisation,vous pouvez lire la description du produit. Enfin n'hésitez pas à nous contacter si vous avez des problèmes.
Meilleure Vente n° 4
vaporisateur WOLKENKRAFT FENiX Mini vaporisateur pour herbes, résines et huiles - CONVECTION RÉEL!! Dernière version 2019! * Bois design * * SANS NICOTINE !! *
  • Le Fenix Mini est actuellement le plus petit vaporisateur à convection de Weecke. Comme le grand frère, le Fenix Mini a une chambre en acier inoxydable et ne correspond pas au Fenix en termes de qualité et d’efficacité de la vapeur. Au contraire, la technologie a été légèrement affinée, ce qui rend le Fenix Mini encore plus rapide.
  • Le Fenix Mini est très compact et se glisse dans toutes les poches (format de paquet de cigarettes). En plus, il est très bon à la main.
  • De plus, une chambre en verre de quartz est incluse dans la livraison avec laquelle vous pouvez évaporer les huiles et les cires.
  • Un grand écran OLED indique la température exacte, le niveau de la batterie et la température définie. De plus, une LED verte indique que le Fenix Mini a atteint la température souhaitée, visible à travers une fenêtre dans l'embout buccal.
  • Pour sa petite taille, le Fenix Mini offre une durée d'utilisation maximale! La durée d'utilisation efficace est d'environ 30 minutes. C'est un véritable vaporisateur à convection. Ils sont beaucoup plus puissants que les vaporisateurs à conduction, mais consomment également plus d’énergie.
PromoMeilleure Vente n° 5
Cigarettes E Vaporesso Target Mini 2 Kit 50W intégré Batterie 2000mAh avec bobine CCELL pour nic-sels et CBD sans nicotine ni liquide (Noir)
  • 【Qui consiste】Le Vaporesso Target Mini 2 est un kit de nouvelle génération avec 2000 mAh Target Mini 2 MOD et VM Tank 2ml
  • 【Sortie】 La sortie réglable répond à vos différents besoins en vape de 5W à 50W
  • 【Bobine】 Le tout nouveau VM Tank est livré avec deux bobines, une bobine CCELL pour sels de Nic / CBD et une bobine maillée en fibres de thé pour le jus de base libre
  • 【Conception】Le système de recharge supérieur et l'AFC inférieur de VM Tank vous aident à acquérir une saveur pure et dense avec des nuages épais
  • Vente interdite aux personnes âgées de moins de 18 ans. En effectuant une commande de ce produit sur , vous certifiez avoir plus de 18 ans
Meilleure Vente n° 6
PromoMeilleure Vente n° 7
Cigarette Electronique, Vape avec Fonctions Manuelles et Automatiques, Cigarettes électroniques Kit Complet, ecig Produit sans Nicotine, sans Tabac, non E Liquide - [ZQ Vi Pod System]
  • ▶▶ LE KIT CONTIENT. ---- ▶▶▶1x e-Cigarette électronique avec une batterie de 650 mAh, 2x Réservoir de 2ml, 1x Bouteille de remplissage (sans liquide), 1x Câble de chargement USB, 1x Notice d'utilisation. Livré sans liquide, cet article ne contient pas de nicotine et est conforme aux normes TPD, CE et certifié RoHS.
  • ▶▶ FACILE A REMPLIR ET SAVEURS RICHES. ---- La cigarette électronique est une sorte d'atomiseur rechargeable, qui peut être remplie dans une variété de saveurs.
  • ▶▶ SIMPLE A UTILISER. ---- Le kit de vape à un bouton multifonction; 5 clics rapides sur le bouton d'alimentation pour l'allumer et ensuite vous pouvez directement inspirer sans à avoir maintenir le bouton.
  • ▶▶ MAGNÉTIQUE. ---- Le module contient deux connecteurs magnétiques qui permettent de maintenir fermement la cartouche à sa place.
  • ▶▶ SYSTÈME INTELLIGENT. ---- Le pod est équipé de la technologie CSA (Cellular Spiral Airflow). Une puce est installé dans le pod pour vous assurer une sécurité accrue comme : protection contre la surchauffe; protection contre le court-circuit; 10 secondes Protection contre l'inhalation; Protection contre les courts-circuits; 2 modes pour régler la tension. ---------- Vente interdite aux personnes âgées de moins de 18 ans. En effectuant une commande de ce produit sur, vous certifie
PromoMeilleure Vente n° 8
OUZIGRT Huile de Chanvre Bio 30 ml | 1000 MG, extrait de graines de chanvre naturel pur - Aide à réduire l'anxiété et le soulagement du stress, favorise un sommeil sain (2PACK)
  • 【Multi-usage】L'huile de chanvre aide à soulager le stress et l'anxiété, à améliorer le sommeil, à réduire l'inflammation, à soulager les douleurs articulaires et à stimuler le métabolisme.
  • 【Riche en nutriments naturels】L'huile de chanvre contient une vaste gamme de nutriments précieux, tels que les acides gras essentiels oméga-3,6,9 et la vitamine, qui peuvent contribuer au bien-être général.
  • 【Complément alimentaire】Chaque portion (15 gouttes) contient 16,66 mg d’extrait d’huile de graines de chanvre. Il vient dans une grande saveur de menthe poivrée, vous pouvez également l'ajouter à votre nourriture ou boisson quotidienne.
  • 【Extrait Premium】Fabriqué avec les meilleurs ingrédients, tous d'origine naturelle. Convient aux végétaliens et végétariens.
  • 【Garantie de satisfaction à 100%】Si vous avez des questions, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter par courrier électronique. Nous fournissons une protection garantie à 100%.
PromoMeilleure Vente n° 9
Cigarette électroniques Kit, Kriogor 80W Atomiseur Cigarette Electronique 2500mAh Rechargeable Battery with Huge Vapour,Simple Operation LED Display,No E Liquid,Nicotine Free
  • 【7 à 80 Watts】 Puissance réglable de 7w à 80w en fonction de vos habitudes de fumer. L'écran OLED vous montre clairement les données (y compris le niveau de puissance, l'état de la batterie, la résistance de l'atomiseur en temps réel). Il est adapté aux débutants.
  • 【Batterie 2500mAh】 Construit en pleine capacité haute qualité batterie rechargeable au lithium, batterie longue durée, chargeur micro USB est insérée dans le port USB externe.
  • 【Conception de poche】 Une plateforme courbée, compacte et tendance, un tout dernier réservoir de 2 ml de la bouche au poumon, réduit le débit de circulation de l'air. C'est un meilleur kit de vape de cabine qui offre une meilleure expérience de saveur.
  • 【Facile à utiliser】 Vous pouvez activer et désactiver la batterie en appuyant rapidement 5 fois sur le bouton d'alimentation en 2 secondes. Vous pouvez également remplir l’e-liquide et remplacer facilement la bobine (une tête de bobine de 0,5 ohm est incluse dans l’emballage. Si vous avez besoin de davantage de bobines, veuillez chercher ASIN: B07T6LQW48).
  • 【Garantie de sécurité et de qualité】 Nous promettons une garantie de qualité de 6 mois. Nous avons une équipe de service après-vente professionnelle pour faire les choses dans les 24 heures. * Il est interdit de vendre aux moins de 18 ans. En commandant ce produit sur, vous aurez 18 ans ou plus.*
Meilleure Vente n° 10
Joyetech eGO AIO Kit complet 1500 mah Noir - ( ne contient ni nicotine ni tabac )
  • Batterie de 1500 Mah Classique
  • Premier Appareil Avec Sécurité Enfant Protection anti fuite, peut se ranger dans une poche
  • E-liquid Illumination LED Avec 7 Changeable Couleurs
  • Débit D'air Réglable Contrôle et Astuce De Goutte À Goutte Avec Spiral Carburant Protection
  • Produit Original , authentification en ligne possible sur le site du fabriquant grace au numéro de série au dos de la boite.

You May Also Like

About the Author: James roth