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.

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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.

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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?” 

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