A Brief Introduction…
The Rotary Club of Vancouver spent some big bucks on a table tennis table installation at Kits Beach. It’s located away from the water and the onshore breezes, tucked behind the main amenities building among the trees and shrubberies that provide decent protection from east, south and northerly breezes. The table surface is fashioned from a really nice aggregate concrete, green stained, set on a concrete base. The net, made from steel and laser cut with the words “Kitsilano Beach”, is superb and comes complete with a couple of inches or so extending over the side (more like a real net). So, max points for the ping pong table, and max points for positioning the table away from the winds off the water. The real deal breaker (and possible ankle breaker) is the tiny concrete pad that underlies the table. It’s way too small, covered with sand, and consequently very slippery. To make matters worse, even dangerous, the tiny concrete pad transitions abruptly to sand via a 2-inch drop about 4 feet from the playing edge of the table. Drop back even slightly from the playing edge during a rally and risk twisting your ankle. This is extraordinarily short sighted sport design that we predict will lead to accidents, injuries and lawsuits.
A plaque installed on the table’s leading edge reads notes ping pong table was donated to Vancouver Parks and Recreation, who, we assume, are now responsible for the table and its upkeep. Vancouver Parks and Rec? Be forewarned: enlarge the concrete pad to standard recreational court size to avoid causing injuries.
Ping Pong In Vancouver's Evaluation
As mentioned in the introduction, this is a very nice table in every respect. The top is stone aggregate stained green with a smooth finish. The base is minimal, consisting of two concrete squares. The table is very fast, as are all concrete tables, and nearly indestructible. Most of the damage to public ping pong tables here in Vancouver is caused by skateboarders but this table is surrounded by grass and is therefore inaccessible.
Kudos to the Vancouver Rotary Club for the very nice ping pong table. But… it would have been a great idea to do a quick Google search to ask what the size of the concrete pad should be. The playing area under the Kits Beach Table is laughably tiny: extending (maybe) two feet from each side of the table edge and four feet from each end. Was there no budget for concrete? Not only is the pad tiny but it transitions abruptly with a two inch drop to sand! When Ping Pong In Vancouver visited the Kits Beach Table for our assessment, two guys playing complained to us about this ankle-breaking feature while trying to avoid the transition with their feet. As it happens, the guys – who are primarily tennis players from the nearby courts – just happened to be present as the ping pong table was being installed. They told us they spoke to the cement mason about the absurdly tiny size of the concrete pad. The mason in turn mentioned it to his boss, who told him the job specs did indeed call for the tiny pad. Who’s to blame? It sucks that all this effort to put in the ping pong table results in a dangerous playing area. As mentioned, the current owner, Vancouver Parks and Recreation, needs to step up and make this right by enlarging the concrete pad or, to go with a cheaper but satisfactory solution, eliminate the drop transition altogether. Get rid of the sand – sand on a concrete surface makes things very slick – and extend the grass up to and level with the concrete so players will step safely from concrete to grass as they play. We found it sadly amusing that they two guys we watched play blasted the court beforehand with a battery-powered leaf blower to clear the sand from the tiny concrete pad thus eliminating the slip factor and reducing the objective hazards to just the possibility of breaking an ankle.
Ping Pong In Vancouver editors visited the Kits Beach Table on a warm sunny August morning. Typically, on a warm summer day in Vancouver there is an onshore breeze but on the day we visited, near the ping pong table, installed behind the buildings and away from the water, the breeze was not that noticeable. Surrounding the large grassy area where the table is located are large trees that will likely buffer winds from the south and east but that remains to be tested. We decided not to play due to the danger of breaking an ankle, but we will return to put our assessment to the test once the concrete court has been enlarged.
The Kits Beach ping pong table is a relatively new feature at a very busy beach and park area. It’s just a matter of time before this table becomes popular. Right now, it’s a pretty unsafe place to play with the tiny sand-covered concrete pad and abrupt drop. When the table is rendered safe by eliminating the sand trap and extending the concrete pad (or extending the grass to meet the pad), this will be a popular place to play. Let’s see what happens.
How large should the area be under and around a public ping pong table? A quick Google search brings up the following standards:
International events = 46 feet by 23 feet
National tournaments = 40 feet by 20 feet
National league = 33 feet by 16 feet and 6 inches
Local leagues and tournaments = 30 feet by 16 feet and 6 inches
Recreational play/Training facilities = 28 feet by 13 feet
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Good-bye Vancouver Parks and Recreation! We’ve moved on to work with the Vancouver School Board, and specifically Windermere Secondary School, to fundraise and help plan Vancouver’s first dedicated outdoor table tennis court. The proposed court has the support of Windermere PE Department Head Brad White, the visionary behind the Windermere Community Fitness Park, phase one of which was completed in July of 2022. In Brad White’s opinion, it was a no-brainer to see that the remaining undeveloped strip of the new fitness park would be a perfect fit for a table tennis court, the first of its kind in Vancouver but common within the big cities of Asia and Europe.
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…
While this table tennis table installation is in Burnaby, it’s worth mentioning because, 1) it is a table tennis installation in a park; and 2) it’s a table tennis installation added next to existing tennis courts in a recent park redevelopment. The Edmonds Park Tables are the closest local example of a municipality adding table tennis infrastructure to an existing park. We ask: we can’t this be done in Vancouver?
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 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!
We ask you where you’d like to see ping pong tables in a park near you. Our goal is one hundred surveys. If you love the sport of table tennis and you want to play on safe, permanent, outdoor ping pong installations, complete the quick anonymous survey now. Add your voice to the chorus of table tennis players who are asking for the opportunity to play our beloved sport safely outdoors.
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.