Vancouver’s reputation often precedes it: we rank high on the list of the world’s most liveable cities, and our natural beauty is, let’s face it, pretty much unparalleled. But it’s not just the scenery that makes this place unique — the communities and connections formed among the people who live here are also pretty special. At the heart of every neighbourhood, you’ll find one of Vancouver’s community centres.
There are 24 community centres for Vancouver’s 22 neighbourhoods, and each is managed by the city’s Parks and Recreation Board. Each centre offers a variety of social, cultural, and recreational activities for all residents: that means everything from children’s karate classes to writing groups for senior citizens.
Community centres provide more than just classes and fitness groups, though. They offer a safe place for the city’s inhabitants to gather and grow together, building connections among neighbours and opportunities to expand and upgrade skills.
Ready to take full advantage of the community centres near you? Here are four reasons to check out your local community gathering places.
Discover group activities for the whole family
Are you and your kids going a bit stir-crazy in the age of COVID? You’re not alone! Luckily, Vancouver’s community centres have adapted their offerings and remain open even during the pandemic. You can register for online family yoga sessions or in-person crafting classes designed to keep minds and bodies of all ages active and happy. These classes are often very affordable, but the more popular ones can fill up quickly, so make sure you’ve got your eye on those registration deadlines!
Take the additional opportunity to educate yourself or your kids by visiting recreation centres
For little to no charge, recreation centers provide a place for children to extend their learning beyond the class room. Lots of programs provide kids with help with homework, tutoring for standardized testing, and a variety of activities, including music classes and book clubs.
Educational opportunities are not limited to children. Adult learners can also benefit from a strong recreation center that provides programs for learning or enhancing a skill and provides critical services such as job training or resume review.
Connect with your neighbours and make new friends
Community centres are natural gathering places, with ongoing events and activities that can’t help but bring you closer to your neighbours. If you’re new to your neighbourhood or just looking to broaden your social circle, signing up for a community centre course allows you (or your family members) to connect with people who share your interests in a low-stakes environment. Recreational activities are great for helping kids develop their socialization skills and start new friendships, but those benefits can apply to adults as well.
Improve your physical and mental health
No backyard? No problem. Vancouver’s indoor swimming pools are open now (with some restrictions), and you can book drop-in sessions online. If you’re hoping to secure a swim, you’ll have to plan ahead: registration opens at noon three days before the day of the session, and they’ve been booking up fast.
Unfortunately, indoor group fitness activities like yoga and aerobics are currently suspended in response to Public Health Orders. In non-COVID times, though, these classes are an excellent and affordable option to help you make it through one of Vancouver’s grey winters with your physical and mental health intact.
Explore the benefits of the public library
You don’t have to live near downtown’s beautiful Central Public Library to take out a book. Vancouver boasts 22 community branches, many of which are conveniently located near their neighbourhood’s community centre. The VPL’s digital services are robust and ever-expanding, so you can check out digital copies of books from home, too! Of course, if you’re looking for a bit more adventure, sign up for the Vancouver Inspiration Pass through the public library. This two-week pass, free for Vancouver residents ages 14 and up, grants access to museums, gardens, and cultural activities all over town. Libraries may not be community centres, exactly, but their community-oriented services are an invaluable part of the fabric of our city.