Return of Ferris wheel and zipline at Queen Elizabeth Park could be considered

Jan 18 2023, 12:12 am

Ferris wheel and zipline attractions are synonymous with fun and they were previously found at Queen Elizabeth Park on a seasonal basis.

The return of such attractions to the highest geographical point of Vancouver is some of the early ideas being pondered by Vancouver Park Board commissioners, while also generating new additional revenue for the Park Board.

On Monday evening, Park Board commissioners unanimously approved ABC commissioner Marie-Claire Howard’s member motion of directing Park Board staff to think “big” and “outside the box” in generating new commercial revenues to help support the growing cost of operating parks and recreation programs, and replacing and expanding facilities that are aging and no longer meet the demand.

“We can only go to our taxpayers for so much revenue, so the next thing is to actually look at ways where we can partner with businesses in the city in order to create a new fun environment,” said Howard during the public meeting.

“Anything that can bring revenue to the Park Board is going to be a plus for all of us here,” she continued, adding that the motion directs Park Board to explore both previous and new services that would be enjoyable for a large proportion of the population.

This potentially includes allowing more private restaurants to operate within Park Board property, but not necessarily building a new standalone restaurant building, such as Cactus Club Cafe at English Bay Beach or The Boathouse at Kitsilano Beach. She suggested this could be an upgraded concession stand operated by a business that leases the space and turns it into a destination cafe or a summer pop-up beach cafe.

During the meeting, several commissioners also expressed their interest in the prospect of potentially bringing back both the Ferris wheel and zipline at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Following the approval of the motion, Park Board staff’s forthcoming findings by the second quarter of 2023 would provide a framework for exploring such opportunities. It also directs Park Board staff to integrate new commercial revenue opportunities within the forthcoming master plans for revitalizing Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park, and the West End Waterfront, including potential permanent attractions.

“Personally, I really want to see a really vibrant Bloedel Conservatory area atop Queen Elizabeth Park area this summer, which I think can happen with a Ferris wheel and zipline. It’ll drive more people to this at-times forgotten park, and it’ll make this city a lot more fun. That Ferris wheel is something that’s really key for me,” Scott Jensen, the chair of the Park Board with the ABC Vancouver party, told Daily Hive Urbanized.

In the summer of 2015, the Park Board permitted a pilot project to partner with a private company to operate a temporary zipline attraction above the quarry garden at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Over its 87 days of actual operation (weather permitting days), the zipline saw about 23,600 riders, with 75% coming to Queen Elizabeth Park just for the zipline. The private operator generated a total of $335,000 in revenue, with $45,000 going to the Park Board based on the formula of a Park Board return of 10% for $75,000 to $250,000 of the revenues, 35% for $250,000 to $400,000, and 40% for over $400,000.

For about a month, timed with the Christmas 2016 season, the Bloedel Conservatory’s special holiday programming included the nightly operation of a Ferris wheel.

 

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Both the temporary Ferris wheel and zipline attractions proved to be popular and provided a new way to see the downtown Vancouver skyline and natural surroundings in the distance.

The Park Board has also faced growing criticism over its maintenance practices for the Stanley Park miniature train, which was forced to close for the Halloween and Christmas operating seasons in 2022. Prior to the pandemic, the miniature train was a revenue generator for the Park Board each year.

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