Vancouver Park Board commissioners embraced public displays of affection on Monday but are still deciding which park will be the best place for “sweethearts” to lock up their love and throw away the key.
Commissioners approved commissioning a “love lock” sculpture, but had reservations about installing it in one of the three high-traffic parks proposed by staff. In addition to English Bay, Kitsilano Beach Park and the plaza at Queen Elizabeth Park, commissioners are seeking suggestions for more intimate, less-visited parks in order to spread the love — and tourist traffic — around the city.
Commissioners were concerned about tarnishing views and worried about the environmental impact of a rise in visitors and if keys, which are thrown away after a padlock is snapped shut, would be tossed in the water at shoreline parks.
Staff will suggest additional locations, and the public can weigh in later this summer to help decide which park will become a city love-in. Artists can submit proposals.
Initially, staff recommended five locations. Prospect Point and the wooden wharf at Jericho were also on the list.
By installing a designated place for “love locks” at one a high-traffic, high-tourist location in the city, the park board will join cities such as Toronto, Seoul and Moscow in directing lovers to a made-to-order sculpture. The city doesn’t allow locking padlocks to random pieces of civic infrastructure, regardless of the site’s personal meaning, and has cut locks from the Burrard Bridge and from fencing near the Plaza of Nations. Many locks are painted with names, hearts, significant dates and promises of lasting love or hope for a lower divorce rate.
In some cities, the padlocks are attached to sanctioned fixtures, such as the row of identical iron sculptures on Moscow’s Luzhkov Bridge. In Toronto, locks have been cut off the Humber Bridge about once a year since 2011, but the Ontario capital now has a designated place to lock down love in the Distillery District.
In Amsterdam, padlocks have spontaneously appeared on the many foot bridges that cross the Dutch city’s canals, and thousands of locks have damaged the Pont des Arts in Paris. In the Serbian town of Vrnjacka Banja, where the tradition may have begun a century ago, an intimate, war-time expression celebrated in poetry has become a source of civic pride.
The Vancouver Park Board is taking the sanctioned route, which it calls a “custom approach.” Public consultation will begin later this summer.
The five locations initially recommended by staff included:
- Prospect Point, Stanley Park: This lookout over the Lion’s Gate Bridge has scenic views of North and West Vancouver and is a heavily visited scenic spot, especially for those travelling by car or chartered tour buses.
- English Bay Beach: This accessible waterfront offers panoramic views of the busy harbour and sunsets. It is a popular place for tourist and locals alike, and is accessible by foot, bicycle or public transit.
- Queen Elizabeth Park Lookout Plaza: the lookout plaza offers panoramic views of the City of Vancouver, the North Shore, Burnaby, and points further east. It is accessible by vehicle, foot, and bicycle or tour bus.
- Jericho Beach: This wooden pier is a popular destination for viewing the ocean, mountains and downtown Vancouver, and fishing and crabbing. The pier is aging and under review for replacement due to its condition and rising sea levels.
- Kitsilano Beach Park Plaza: The plaza west of the pool offers a scenic lookout over the Burrard Inlet and the North Shore. It is also located on pedestrian, cycling and transit routes.