The benches at Ben Stevenson View Park offer visitors a place to sit and watch the sun set over Boundary Bay. They say good things come in small packages and the Ben Stevenson View Park lives up to the thinking behind the adage. Photo: Sharon Doucette
The entrance is not the most welcoming – a chain–link gateway attached to a pumping station – but what waits beyond the oxidized gray framework is nothing less than stunning. It's a good thing the City of Surrey has installed a pair of benches on the site because the view will knock visitors on their butts.
The western edge of the property ends at a short fence, beyond which is a steep drop down to the beach below. From this vantage point, visitors can drink in a sweeping vista across the waters of Boundary Bay to Point Roberts and the Gulf Islands beyond.
Bald eagles nesting in an aerie nearby frequent the skies while boats and other watercraft bob on the waters of the bay.
"We have a big park system with almost 6,500 acres of parkland but amongst all that acreage, we have a few small places that stand out and capture people's imagination," said Surrey parks manager Owen Croy. "They are drawn to those places just because of the opportunity for the solitude, the enjoyment and the vie This in one of those parks."
Located at 1799 Ocean Park Road, the Ben Stevenson View Park sits on a narrow strip of land that was once part of a 350 acre package owned by Ocean Park pioneer Ben Stevenson. When the land was later subdivided, Stevenson left lots for each of his three daughters on the bluff overlooking Boundary Bay. Two of his daughters; Georgina Strachan and Vivian Falconer still live nearby.
When the Stevenson property was broken up, one strip of land remained at the foot of 18th Avenue. The new homeowners on either side tried to absorb the extra parcel of real estate for themselves but the Stevenson family insisted it remain open as a nominal road allowance for 18th Avenue.
The Stevenson family's actions have benefited everybody, as that narrow road allowance is what is now Ben Stevenson View Park.
"It's officially a road end which serves the purpose of a pocket park for a neighbourhood," Croy said. "In this case, it provides a spectacular viewpoint. It's tucked away and not widely known by the community except maybe those who live in the local area. It's widely used by people who walk to the site and just want to sit and contemplate the views, particularly on early summer evenings."
For the Stevenson family, the park has special meaning. One of the main roads in Ocean Park, 128th Street, was originally named Stevenson Road but Surrey changed that designation when it adopted a number-based road identification system. Today, the park is one of the few reminders left of the pioneer family that once settled the land many Ocean Park residents now call home.
""I walk down there a lot and I enjoy the walk," Georgina Strachan, 87, said. "It's a lovely park and they take good care of it. It's very precious to my sister and I; it's nice to see Dad's name carried on. Our family has been around a long time and there are not many of us left. The park is something that's nice to have."