PARKing Day turns asphalt green

Event temporarily transforms spaces into tiny parks

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Vancouver gallery owner Leah Jackson was happy to participate in Friday’s city-sanctioned conversion of a few curbside parking spaces into parks-for-a-day.

But she really enjoyed it during past years.

“I did it guerrilla-style before, the way it was supposed to be,” she said.

International “PARKing Day” has evolved from the original unsanctioned happening of five years ago. Activists in a downtown San Francisco art studio plugged a parking meter on that day and rolled out enough sod to cover a single parking space for the duration of the meter’s two-hour limit. The event underscores the need for more urban green space.

Friday was the second time it has been officially organized in downtown Vancouver, with three mini-parks scattered around downtown.

Gary Bock, director of the Vancouver Watersheds Council, lounged on a bench amid potted plants in a pair of parking spaces along Columbia Street.

“We spend an enormous amount of time, energy and money creating space for cars and not nearly as much creating space for humans,” Bock said. “And I’d like to think we matter, too.”

Jackson, who owns the Angst Gallery and Niche Wine Bar on Main Street, said she has no qualms about sacrificing a parking space in front of her business.

“You need to park cars, but, on the other hand, look how much you can put into a parking space,” she said. “I have a locking bike rack, and there are many parking structures in our city. I don’t necessarily need a parking spot.”