You might not know what parkour is, but Vancouver will soon have a park for it.
Popularized in France in the 1990s, parkour involves leaping, diving and tumbling off and between buildings and urban structures. It combines elements of gymnastics, rock climbing and track and field and makes for some pretty spectacular YouTube videos.
Once seen mainly in action movies, like James Bond’s Casino Royale, parkour has apparently taken to the streets and earned a significant grassroots following here in Vancouver. Now, to accommodate all the hardcore parkour going on, a new outdoor obstacle course is planned for Hastings Park, the area adjacent the PNE and Hastings Racecourse.
The first of its kind in Vancouver the course will be part of a larger $10.5-million renovation plan for Hastings Park, which also includes a street soccer area, BMX bike dirt jump course and ping-pong amenities, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. The upgrades are slated to be finished by the summer of 2014.
The outdoor course will complement an existing private indoor facility on Main Street that’s already a magnet for parkour enthusiasts. At 10,000 square feet, Origins is the largest gym of its kind in Canada, filled with custom-made wooden structures meant to emulate the urban environment. Inside, members learn to run up walls, flip off of buildings, vault over obstacles and master the parkour repertoire.
The idea for an outdoor public parkour park was apparently inspired by a 10 year old. The young son of Vancouver park board commissioner Sarah Blythe fell in love with the sport, and she thought it would be a perfect fit for Vancouver. ““He’s not a big fan of other sports but he loved jumping and learning to run up walls,” she said in an interview with News1130. “I thought it was interesting because he doesn’t need any gear to do it.”