Best of Vancouver 2012 contributors' picks: Outdoors
For the Georgia Straight’s 17th annual Best of Vancouver issue, our editorial team has spent months on the lookout for good deeds, weird urban details, and various howlers to highlight. Here’s our contributors’ picks for Best of Vancouver 2012.
Best local deserted island
Deserted but not undiscovered, Habitat Island (above) is a pleasant and peaceful place to explore, bird watch, and get lost in your thoughts. Located in Southeast False Creek on the Seaside Bike Route, just past the north end of Cook Street, Habitat Island is an artificial atoll built to replace habitats destroyed during the construction of the Olympic Village. A steppingstone pathway leads out to the 0.6-hectare island, which is visited regularly by numerous species of birds (including the odd bald eagle and peregrine falcon), insects, crabs, and other local critters, as well as herring, which haven’t been seen in the waters adjoining the former industrial area for many years. It is planted with various native trees, grasses, and flowers—many of which grow so high and provide such dense coverage that it’s easy to forget you’re right in the middle of a bustling city.
Best way to understand that green stuff outside your window
Soaring Eagle Nature School for Nature Connection and Wilderness Living
This Vancouver-based school offers educational programs to people young and old throughout Metro Vancouver. Birding, plant identification, survival skills, wildlife-tracking, friction fire-starting, emergency-shelter building, and finding food in the forest are among the subjects participants explore. With more and more of us spending less and less time outside, this school offers something that everyone needs: a sense of simply being comfortable in the natural world. Courses take place rain or shine, naturally.
Best urban wildlife encounter
A young black bear made a surprise appearance in downtown Vancouver in December. The male bruin caused a stir when he was spotted perched on top of a garbage truck near the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. News footage of the incident showed the bear calmly standing on the parked truck as bystanders watched; a conservation official then moved in and darted the bear with a tranquillizer. The sedated bear slumped over and appeared about to fall off the back of the truck. However, a conservation officer who had climbed onto the vehicle caught it before it could fall to the pavement. Onlookers cheered, and the bear was taken away in a pickup truck. The next day, wildlife officials released it into the upper Squamish Valley.
Best suburban free outdoor pool
North Delta Outdoor Pool
In front of the North Delta Recreation Centre, near the intersection of 84th Avenue and 112th Street, is the North Delta Outdoor Pool—or N-DOP, as the locals like to call it. On weekends during the summer, it’s free to swim, and the pool provides plenty of floaty things for the kids to chuck around. The concession offers snacks, including orange, red, blue, and white freezies for the low, low price of 50 cents each. That’s two for a buck! Plus, if an altercation breaks out over one of the pool noodles, the cop shop is right next door.