Waterfront site is really known as Crab Park

Jack Christie's tribute to Crab Park [" Crab Park well off the city's beaten path", March 3-10] was well-done and, for the average Vancouverite, perhaps an introduction to a welcome antidote to traffic congestion and the usual crash and clamour of city living. That same Vancouverite might well wonder why this park seems to have two names.

The name Portside Park was foisted on the local community on opening day in 1987 without consultation and was taken as a deliberate slight against those Downtown Eastside residents who lobbied, camped out, and otherwise made themselves obnoxious in pursuit of a waterfront park on Port land that the Port Authority clearly would have preferred to hold onto for future development.

The park was always known in the Downtown Eastside as Crab Park and symbolizes even today a high-water mark of community-shaping and capacity-building.

The petty divisions over the name issue are still evidently thriving through whomever issued the background information to your reporter, who was told that "it's formally named Portside Park."

On February 17, 1994, city council approved the Central Waterfront Proposed Policy Statement. Section M of the report states: "That the Central Waterfront Port Lands Policy Statement be amended to include Section 6, a policy to formally change the name of Portside Park to Crab Park".

Many in the Downtown Eastside still believe that the 40-year lease for Crab Park won't be renewed upon expiry and that the land will be redeveloped for high-end residential and commercial uses. As it is not bound by any City of Vancouver bylaws or regulations, Ports Canada could easily do so were it so inclined. They might even dedicate a small green space while they're at it and call it Portside Park.

Ian McRae / Vancouver