Vancouver Park Board wants to lock up your heart

Commissioners to consider designated place for “love locks”

What is Vancouver’s most romantic location? Is it the cityscape viewpoint at Queen Elizabeth Park? A chain-link fence between a parking lot and False Creek? Or perhaps Prospect Point at the northwestern tip of Stanley Park?

By installing a designated place for “love locks” at one of five high-traffic, high-tourist locations in the city, the Vancouver Park Board is joining Toronto, Seoul and Moscow in directing lovers to a made-to-order location to lock up their hearts. The city doesn’t allow throwing away the key for a padlock attached to a random piece of civic infrastructure, regardless of the site’s private romance.

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The park board is asking local artists to submit proposals for a “custom and structurally safe love lock sculpture for Vancouver” that will be installed in a city park.

The other locations under consideration are Kitsilano Beach Park and English Bay Beach, both of them equal parts scenic and crowded in the summer, as well as the slightly more secluded wood pier at Jericho Park.

Popular in Paris, Moscow, Seoul, Amsterdam and Brooklyn, the romantic sites are targeted by “sweethearts,” in the Park Board’s lingo, as a place to lock padlocks, many of them painted with names, hearts, significant dates and promises of lasting love or hope for a lower divorce rate etched in the metal.

In some cities, the padlocks are attached to sanctioned fixtures, like 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 provincial 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 Pairs. 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.

Love locks have already appeared in Vancouver on the Burrard Bridge and on fences around a parking lot outside Rogers Arena beside the seawall. They are removed by city staff, much to the chagrin of one NPA city councillor who worried in 2014 that Vancouver would add no-love zone to its no-fun reputation.

The park board is taking the sanctioned route, which it calls a “custom approach.”

Commissioners will debate the issue and possible locations on July 6.

Recommended by staff, these are the five locations and their merits:

  • 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 overs 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.

mstewart@vancourier.com

@MHStewart

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