In early April, as the number of positive cases continued to climb, there was a point when even going for a walk in the West End felt a little like a high-stakes game of Frogger. I’d walk alleyways or hop onto the street to get a little space, until it felt like the mental health I was gaining from the fresh air was no longer in balance with the creeping anxiety of being surrounded by too many people—and I’d head back home.
Then, in response to crowding in Stanley Park, the Park Board shut down vehicular traffic and diverted bikes to the roadway—giving pedestrians more space on the seawall and creating a safer way for cyclists to get some exercise. So, I hopped on my bike around 8 a.m. on a Thursday, did the climb up to Prospect Point and pulled in to the viewpoint over the Lions Gate. I gazed down on the Burrard Inlet, breathed deeply and, for the first time since the WHO declared a pandemic, felt my shoulders drop just a few inches.
As cities east of us were shutting down their green spaces in support of physical distancing, our 230 parks stayed open and available to us as a sweet, grassy coping mechanism. And someday, when this pandemic is finally far behind us, here’s hoping we can say, “Remember when we were crazy enough to allow cars in Stanley Park?”