Is Metro Vancouver Really Kid Friendly?

Last weekend I read a story about how Kamloops, BC is about to get a $200 million dollar investment for a new theme destination water park. I read that column just after my son and I were viewing a Youtube video of West Edmonton Mall’s indoor theme park. This got me thinking, is Metro Vancouver really that kid friendly?

Unless you want to take your kids to one of the local community pools, (most of which are falling apart and lack any good waterslides or kids play areas), I’m hard pressed to think of a year-round attraction in Metro Vancouver that has huge appeal to kids under the age of 8 years old.

In his toddler years, I did take my son to both Science World and the Aquarium. Both are fantastic kid-friendly venues, however they are limited in their “repeat” effect. What I mean is kids only want to go back to these venues so many times before the novelty begins to wear out.

Where in Metro Vancouver can you find a really good indoor theme park that kids can go to year-round? Even the outdoor waterparks are nowhere near where the majority of the population lives. Cultus Lake water park is fun, but it’s a good two hour drive out of downtown Vancouver.

During spring break, BC Place does come alive with something called PlayDome. This indoor theme park is great, but it’s only lasts for a couple of weeks.

Metro Vancouver simply needs a better variety of indoor, year-round attractions for families. And before all you outdoor snobs tell me I should bundle up and head to the local ski hills, kayak on Burrard Inlet or go hiking up Grouse Mountain…forget it. I make no apologies for the fact I don’t consider getting sopping wet or strapping on a set of snow shoes as my idea of fun.

The natural place to look at putting some sort of permanent, year round attraction would be Hastings Park, which is already home to Playland (open during the summer) and the Pacific National Exhibition. Perhaps the time has come to encourage the management at Playland to thing big, and look at constructing some sort of year-round facility that would appeal to families with young children.

Surely if a private investor can be found to construct a new $200 million water theme park in Kamloops, someone would be interested in building something in as prestigious a location as Hastings Park.

Of course this would be controversial in Vancouver where a debate can break out on something as simple as what colour the sky is. However, if the Mayor and Council want to demonstrate leadership, generate new economic activity and appeal to family voters, perhaps the time has come for this discussion.

I know from personal experience that there are a lot of families in Metro Vancouver that would love nothing more than for Hastings Park to become home to a new year-round all-weather attraction for kids. It would help to solve the age old question posed to parents “What are we going to do today”. What do you think?