Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast


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Vancouver Pillow Shots: Summer Sunset at Kitsilano Pool

Kitsilano Pool Pillow Shot

Kitsilano Pool at closing is a world-class panorama. What has always inspired me most about the place is not the unrivaled view, but the tremendous ambition of constructing a public pool along one of the most scenic plots of shoreline in the city.

Sometimes I wonder: is real estate freakishly expensive in Vancouver in part because the world has realized how rare and spectacular a place this is?

See previous Vancouver Pillow Shots here.

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Vancouver Pillow Shots: Kitsilano Pool in Autumn

Birds in Kitsilano Pool
The birds have returned to Kitsilano Pool, taking station until next spring. In autumn, more than any other season, low clouds cling to the North Shore mountains like veils. The mush of decaying leaves, the increasingly sodden earth, and the dim light of afternoon seem far removed from the seaside frolic of summer.

Some leaves have not yet turned, yet I am already dreaming of cherry blossoms. On an especially wet ride down 7th Avenue, between Cypress and Maple, I found solace in the clear memory of pedaled hanami. This alone is enough to lighten my spirits in January, but the buds seem impossibly far away in November.


Previous Vancouver Pillow Shots here


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The Kitsilano Ideal

Kitsilano Pool Opens
Kitsilano’s tranquil, green streets hide the third highest population density in Vancouver, distantly trailing the West End but not far behind Fairview. Mount Pleasant is likely to climb as a dozen high-density developments populate the eastern end of South False Creek, but has not yet overtaken the many rambling wood-frame apartments and secondary suites west of Burrard.

Kitsilano Pool is, for many in the area, the apotheosis of high-amenity, medium-density living, an ideal that could never be properly realized among the towers of the downtown peninsula. Even Second Beach Pool, a great outdoor experience in its own right, is set amid the towering cedars of Stanley Park, not the towering glass or concrete seen a kilometre east. Could either pool work in David Lam or George Wainborn Park? Would Kitsilano Pool be the same without its seaside village charm, and would Second Beach Pool be so transporting were it removed from the forest?

A looming question for Kitsilano is whether and how the neighbourhood will densify. The gentle stroll or bike ride to Kitsilano Pool on a sunny weekend is a rare thing in our increasingly populated world, the sublime expression of a holiday at home without ribbons of cement or shadows of concrete. But the geographic and demographic fate of Kitsilano is to house many more people than it currently does. Can Elysium grow to accommodate more, or is lotusland a limited fragment in history, to be forever transformed by higher human density in decades ahead?

Kitsilano Pool Opens


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Rite of Spring

Kitsilano Pool May 2014

Kitsilano Pool opens tomorrow. Those of us in Kitsilano simply call it “The Pool“. Because if you live here, how can there be any other pool?

While Vancouver’s ducks and seagulls have the fine pleasure of floating over its scenic expanse for two-thirds of the year, we humans enjoy the pool’s heated saltwater from Victoria Day to a melancholy Sunday in late September. Occasionally the pool will extend its closing date in observance of unusually warm weather. Perhaps it was once attempted to close it early, but I’ve not heard of such a thing.

This Saturday will be the first of 121 scheduled days, a sign that summer’s lure to Cornwall has formally begun.