A Brief Introduction…
At Ping Pong In Vancouver, our focus is to create and maintain a list of where to play table tennis in Vancouver, with an emphasis (so far) on highlighting free, outdoor places to play ping pong. We’ve also been focused on trying to encourage parks planners here in Vancouver to add safe table tennis infrastructure to Vancouver’s parks, much like what has been done with tennis over the years. Sadly, Vancouver doesn’t have one park-based table tennis installation with nothing in the works despite our efforts at promoting the idea. The closest we get in Vancouver to park-based table tennis infrastructure is Empire Fields where there are 3 table tennis tables set in the middle of a busy pedestrian concourse with no separation and consideration for safety.
Meanwhile, in Burnaby, parks planners are listening to residents. In a recent redevelopment of Edmonds Park, three new Cornilleau “Park” table tennis tables were installed on a dedicated asphalt pad next to the tennis courts, complete with a rules-of-play sign to make this table tennis court official. Great job, Burnaby! When will Vancouver do the same?
Ping Pong In Vancouver's Evaluation
The tables used in Burnaby’s first official table tennis installation are the extremely popular Cornilleau “Park” model. These are sturdy, outdoor, composite tables with a decent bounce and built to last for years. The table top rests on a very large, nearly indestructible steel legs. The net is made from 1/4 inch steel riddled with honey-combed shaped perforations. These tables should last forever but… already vandals have been busy trying their best to ruin the tables one of which is noticeably bowed near the centre on one side where there are no legs, a weak point in the design of these tables.
The size of the playing area for this three-table installation is excellent with at least 10 feet of asphalt extending behind both ends of the tables so players won’t be at risk of breaking an ankle (see the danger at the Kits Beach in Vancouver). The tables are a wee bit crowded towards the west side of the asphalt plaza and could be better spaced out.
Outdoor ping pong players learn to live with the wind. Over time, the wind suppresses a player’s hubris and teaches vague lessons about waiting or not, all the while toying mercilessly with the 3 gram table tennis ball. So, for any table tennis installation to incorporate, even by accident, any sort of wind block is like a gift. The installation at Edmonds Park has chain link fencing along two sides of the playing area, the northwest and southwest perimeters. A chain link fence will disperse the wind to some degree, but the wind-buffering effectiveness of the southwest fence, behind one end of the tables, is boosted by lightweight fabric, installed to prevent the ball from passing through. At the time of our visit, however, this barrier had been slashed in several places by vandals. This public ping pong installation has the lowest wind factor of all the outdoor installations we have reviewed so far, along with the oasis we call the Oxford Place Tables.
As one would expect at a facility of this calibre, the Edmonds Park ping pong tables are well-used. But, with three tables and well-marked rules limiting play to 30 minutes when others are waiting means you won’t have to wait too long to play. You’re likely to meet potential playing partners here. Edmonds Community Centre, just across the park, has a well attended indoor table tennis program.
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We started out listing and evaluating places to play ping pong in Vancouver but since the city has so few places to play, we’ve moved on to adjacent municipalities like Burnaby, New Westminster and now Coquitlam. Over the Canada Day weekend, we dropped by the lower mainland’s latest outdoor public table tennis court, Coquitlam Municipal Hall Tables. Nice! There are two aggregate stone table tennis tables by Sanderson Concrete, the go-to table when you want the installation to last 50 years, set towards the edge of a large plaza that by design, invites people to stay awhile.
We are two years into our mandate to promote and support the development of outdoor table tennis courts in Vancouver parks so it’s time to briefly report on what has NOT happened in the past 24 months. We’ve concluded that Vancouver is really not into providing safe, standardized table tennis courts in parks around the city and things are not likely to change anytime soon. While adjacent municipalities are blazing ahead with outdoor table tennis courts, Vancouver park planners don’t seem to get it at all.
What can we say? Here is another quality table tennis court located in a Burnaby park! It seems Burnaby is treating table tennis like a real sport by building courts in parks, just like tennis but at a fraction of the cost. Surrounded by trees, the Cameron Park Tables may be the best outdoor table tennis court in Burnaby.
The lone ping pong table at 401 West Georgia seems like it would be a favourite for office workers at noon hour. This second table tennis court associated with a downtown office building is not the oasis like the Oxford Place Tables, but it is completely sheltered from rain positioned under the overhang of the office tower. Tucked in close to the building, the table is also likely shielded from some of the winds that often plague outdoor ping pong on plazas.
The Quayside Park Tables are easy to miss. They’re hidden away in a small green playground next to the Fraser River. Surrounded by trees and set one a concrete slab adjacent to the children’s playground, you could ride by without noticing the beautiful steel tables. The tables are the same as those at Empire Fields and make wonderful sounds when the table top is percussed by hand on when the ball strikes the net.
The Confederation Park Table Tennis Court is our latest “discovery” of great places to play free, outdoor public ping pong in Burnaby. Adjacent to the tennis courts, this new, spacious court sports three beautiful Cornilleau table tennis tables set on an isolated asphalt pad complete with a seating area along the eastern edge. Good job once again, Burnaby Parks & Rec!
Vancouver zero, Burnaby three, if you’re keeping score. The municipality of Burnaby is in the lead when it comes to outdoor table tennis courts in city parks, and the new Willingdon Heights Park table tennis court is yet another example of a safe, standardized place to enjoy your fave sport in your local park. Way to go, Burnaby! Pay attention, Vancouver park planners!
It’s no secret: Vancouver isn’t big on ping pong in parks. To help advocate for safe public ping pong tables in parks, Ping Pong In Vancouver has been asking for your input on where you’d like to see table tennis tables in a park near you. If you live in Burnaby or New Westminster, you can head down to your local park to play table tennis on tables set on an asphalt pad surrounded by grass and shade trees. Why can’t it be the same for citizens of Vancouver? Tell us where you’d like to see a safe place to play ping pong near you!
Celebrate World Table Tennis Day with us a few days late! Due to predicted wet weather, our Meet & Greet originally scheduled for WTTD on April 23 has been postponed until Saturday, April 29. We Invite all ping pong players to drop by, say hello, meet other players, play some matches, win some prizes, watch a demo by some skilled players, learn about skills and the technical side of the sport, and exchange ideas on how to make Vancouver into Ping Pong City. Eveyone welcome!
Great news for local outdoor table tennis enthusiasts! Word is out that Health Minister Adrian Dix granted $45,000 last week towards the Vancouver School Board’s proposed table tennis court at Windermere Community Fitness Park. The dedicated table tennis court on VSB property is a first for Vancouver, a municipality with no dedicated table tennis courts on city land or parks.
It’s great to see examples outside of Vancouver of table tennis tables safely located within the leafy green confines of parks. This latest discovery is located in Moody Park in New Westminster, and this past September when the Ping Pong In Vancouver crew checked out the two tables nestled under the canopy of big trees, we found a small community of players who meet to play nearly every day.
Someone recently contacted PingPongInVancouver.com to tell us about a public outdoor table tennis table in North Vancouver near First and Lonsdale. We don’t normally include tables in municipalities other than Vancouver unless the installation is an example of what was done right (i.e. Edmonds Tables in Burnaby) or what was done wrong. An initial glance of this installation (via Google street view) showed what appeared to be an example of where NOT to put in a public ping pong table. We hopped on our bikes on a fine summer afternoon to see for ourselves what a dangerously placed table looks like…
Since the launch of Ping Pong In Vancouver, we’ve searched for a local table tennis gear store we could promote and send readers to who want to buy brand name entry-level ping pong gear at a good price. We contacted all the big players nationally as well as a few local stores, all of whom ignored our offer for free advertising. Too good to be true, we suppose. But we found a tiny gem of a shop at Renfrew Street and First Avenue, and to make things even more auspicious, the shop’s about one mile from the best outdoor ping pong tables in town, Empire Fields.
Ping Pong In Vancouver has finally created a players directory, one of the three main goals we set out to accomplish when we launched the website. We list places to play table tennis and we advocate for ping pong infrastructure in Vancouver parks (although all of our efforts so far to connect with Vancouver Parks planners has been completely ignored). Now we connect ping pong players with partners!
The Vancouver Rotary Club recently unveiled a ping pong table at Kits Beach. Situated behind the buildings along the main promenade of the beach, surrounded by trees and grass, the ping pong table itself is great. It’s got a beautifully finished aggregate concrete top yielding a superb bounce, a fine art-quality metal net, a sturdy, immovable concrete base…but there’s real danger underfoot, literally.
The Orchard Commons Tables are excellent aggregate stone tables with a surface more like 400 grit sandpaper than polished marble. Does it affect the ball? You be the judge when you visit. The ping pong tables are centred in a playing area that is… well, a pit, basically. This pit consists of a playing surface of undulating gravel that has a deepish hole at each end of both tables, a testament to the grinding duels that must have occurred here…
In the heart of downtown, the Oxford Place Tables is a peaceful ping pong oasis. Two tables are positioned on a small shady plaza just far enough away from busy Hastings Street. Pedestrian traffic is minimal, and the playing area is ample and without any significant objective hazards. Ball containment is pretty good with walls and low barriers in most directions. This is a very nice place to play!
Ping Pong In Vancouver advocates for public table tennis. Our goal is to bring safe, permanent public ping pong installations to Vancouver’s many parks. There are a lot of ping pong players out there who’d love to play their fave sport outside within the safety of a park. Our main problem so far has been trying to get the attention of city officials and bureaucrats. The people who make decisions. We have pursued the recommended routes of communication over the past 4 weeks, since the launch of this website, but so far our efforts have been unsuccessful…
Ping pong is actually a sport. The sport is table tennis. It is the second most popular sport on earth. Players begin by playing ping pong, but as skills sharpen, ping pong players grow into table tennis players, and table tennis players need room to play the sport safely.
From Google: Cocktails, craft draft beer & snacks offered in a hip, upbeat space with Ping-Pong tables & games. The Back And Forth Bar has 6 ping pong tables for recreational and serious players, board games (Cards of Humanity, Jenga, Checkers, What the Meme), a TV dedicated to Nintendo Classic, beer and wine on tap, a small selection of spirits, snacks and friendly staff who want to make you feel at home in comfortable surroundings. Play and hang out!
Ping pong players playing on any of the public ping pong installations we’ve reviewed on this website face objective hazards. Public ping pong tables are currently offered as “afterthoughts”, haphazardly placed, without much regard to a player’s safety, in busy pedestrian areas around the city. In Vancouver, there are no ping pong tables situated in safely within the grassy regions of a park as in the standard in the UK and Germany. Ping pong players deserve for no less than the safety considerations afforded our sister sport, tennis.
Besides becoming a go-to listing for places to play ping pong in Vancouver, we want to be a voice for promoting public ping pong in Vancouver. Specifically, we would like to see ping pong installations in Vancouver parks consisting of a slab of asphalt or concrete with a table in the middle, surrounded by a safety barrier of lawn, a recreational installation very common in European parks from Derbyshire to Berlin
From the film’s description: “In the middle of New York City, tucked away in the corner of Bryant Park, sit two outdoor ping pong tables where anyone is free to play. Young or old, rich or homeless, it doesn’t matter. During the day, the park provides paddles and balls, but after 7pm the regulars show up, armed with their own. Every night they come together to play each other and battle the elements, playing in the wind, rain and even snow. And out of this shared love of the game, a bond was formed between an unlikely group of people. Filmmaker Jon Bunning profiles the many lives these tables have touched, including the former gangbanger who helped put them there.”
All things considered, this is a nice spot for playing ping pong. And a nice gesture by the city to place public ping pong tables this close to the corridors of power. It gives a ping pong fanatic hope that public ping pong is within the purview of city officials who need only to look out their north windows and gaze down onto the plaza, where two tables, one great, the other so-so, become a momentary focal point for joy, exercise and friendship…
Two of the four weather-sheltered public ping pong tables in Vancouver are located under the south end of the Cambie Street Bridge. The other two are under the north end of the bridge. The Cambie Bridge South Tables, like the tables under the north end of the bridge, are the German-made Tiger Ping Pong Plaza model: a great design and a lively bounce. Situated among picnic tables in the middle of a slightly cambered pedestrian plaza, there’s enough room to play safely. Keep in mind the several objective hazards like the boulder field about 15 feet behind the east side of the table, and the roadway and bike lane just a few feet from the tables. Some may call this unsafe; we call it multi-tasking.
There are two excellent table tennis tables sheltered from the weather under the Cambie Street Bridge on the north side. Like the pair on the south side of the bridge, these tables are the Tiger Ping Pong “Plaza” model, and they are positioned on the brick plaza under the infrastructure of the bridge in an east to west orientation. One ping pong table is a bit better positioned; that is, sheltered better from the rain, but both tables are club-quality outdoor tables and on a fine day this location, with all of the recreational activity going on around, is inspirational and will bring out your best game.
This funky ping pong table is located at the Vernon-Adanac Plaza, a blocked-off section of Vernon Drive, right where the Adanac-Union bike route takes a wee jog north one block from Union Street onto Adanac Street. It’s an interesting location for a ping pong table to say the least, and it’s easy to see the hipster connotation in locating the table on a bike route…
Unlike parks in other western countries like Germany, parks in Vancouver, despite the vast unused lawns available, do not contain table tennis playing areas by default. In fact, not a single ping pong table installation exists within a Vancouver park. We are late to the game when compared to our European friends. But what potential we have given our numerous parks for ping pong installations within the safety of a public lawned area. Ping Pong In Vancouver has written this post to help define a standard for a table tennis playing area within any public park.
The three steel tables at Empire Fields, in the shadow of Vancouver’s beloved wooden roller coaster offer the ultimate outdoor table tennis – ping pong – experience in Vancouver. For the breathtaking setting alone, this is the #1 place for free outdoor ping pong. Big open sky, breathtaking mountain views, an historic setting where the tables are nestled between the one of north America’s last remaining vintage roller coasters and the track where the first sub-four minute mile was won. The Beatles played mere metres from where today, right now, you can play on melodious metal tables…
Stonehenge Tables, are three tables in the Concord Pacific play area in the expanse of asphalt north of Science World. Named for the large arranged stones embedded in the grassy knoll immediately east of the tables, Stonehenge Tables offer the best of outdoor table tennis in Vancouver. These are stone tables with a great bounce. The area behind both sides of the tables is bounded by a low continuous concrete wall serving as a long bench, providing a stopper for most balls that pass your opponent.