A cool, shaded oasis in the busy downtown, Portal Park features an elegant pavilion, lacy Japanese maples, and glimpses of Coal Harbour. The park is located above the north entrance to the Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel, which was opened in 1932 to move freight trains across the downtown peninsula; the tunnel is now used by the SkyTrain.
Portal Park was officially opened in June of 1986 and was the result of an interesting agreement. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was about to abandon its False Creek Train Yards. Up to this point their trains ran through the Dunsmuir tunnel from the Creek to Burrard Inlet. At about the same time B.C. Transit approached the CPR as they were interested in the tunnel for their new ALRT line. Vancouver’s City Engineering Department was also interested in the tunnel. After a three way discussion an agreement was made between Marathon (the development arm of the CPR), the City of Vancouver and B.C. Transit. Marathon gave up the Thurlow Street End site in exchange for other properties and higher density rights at their site across the street. They also contributed $100,000 toward the development of the park. B.C. Transit (now TransLink) now owns the tunnel and roll-out structure underneath the park and contributed $400,000 toward the park’s development. The park itself is constructed on a concrete roof and is owned by the City of Vancouver who also contributed $400,000 toward park construction.