Originally built in 1931, Kits Pool is Vancouver's only (heated) saltwater swimming pool and, at 137m (150 yards), it's also the longest pool in Canada. The pool itself is picturesque, with views of the mountains, ocean, beach, and downtown skyline. The pool is designed like the neighbouring beach, gradually becoming deeper as you wade toward the ocean, making it accessible to every age and swimming ability from babies to athletes. 

And while all those things make Kits Pool worth a visit, there's much more to the pool's design than most people know (until now...).

In the 1970s the City decided to renovate the pool to bring it up to the BC Building Code. They hired Howard Architects and John Bingham was tasked as the Project Architect. Fortunately for us, we know John pretty well and convinced him to tell us anything he could remember about the renovation that isn't already on paper.

The first challenge of the renovation was to address the Provincial Government's requirement for a continuous seawall path for public access and maintenance along the entire length of the seawall. At that time, a concrete wall separated the ocean from the pool, effectively ending the seawall to the east of the pool. The Architects kept the original wall (which is still there today directly north of the pool) and created a new wall for the pool at a higher elevation so that it was no longer fed directly by the ocean. 

One of the major components of the renovation was to include new mechanics for cleaning and heating the water. Since its opening, the pool had been seawater fed at high tide. Until the renovation, though, the water was untreated and unheated. With the addition of new mechanical system, the pool is now filled with treated sea water once only at the beginning of the summer. Over the season, evaporated water is replaced by fresh water. By the end of the summer, Kits Pool is filled with more fresh water than sea water. 

The change rooms were also included in the renovation. The men's and ladies' symbols on the walls differentiating the change rooms were meant to be placeholders on the Architectural drawings only. However, they ended up making the cut and are carefully recreated with every paint job. The cubbies on the deck are chimney stacks turned on their side, a relatively cheap (and original) way to create open cubbies. Light wells into the change rooms can be seen from the concession stand south of the pool, but have since been covered to mitigate privacy concerns.

Other areas included in the renovation were the Showboat, which acts as a stage for amateur performers. The circular deck that sits out above the change room was originally supposed to have a tent (the clips for the tent are still there). However, the tent and the children's spray park designed to the east of the pool for eliminated due to budgetary constraints (and have apparently since been abandoned altogether).

Construction of the renovation began in 1978 and took approximately one season to complete. Apparently, the mayor at the time received numerous complaints about noise during the construction, which could only be done during low-tide, whenever low tide happened to be that day. 

After leading the design of the renovation, the same Architectural firm was commissioned by the City to design Second Beach Pool. While Second Beach Pool is not saltwater fed, it does have the same graduated entry as Kitsilano Pool, making it equally popular for families with young children.

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John Bingham , of Bingham + Hill Architects, was the project architect for the pool's renovation

John Bingham, of Bingham + Hill Architects, was the project architect for the pool's renovation

Looking North over Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations.   Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

Looking North over Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

The view from inside the lifeguard station, 1979.   Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects

The view from inside the lifeguard station, 1979. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects

Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations in 1978.   Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.

Kits Pool during its first season after the renovations in 1978. Photo courtesy of Bingham + Hill Architects.


If you need to get away without really getting away we have found the perfect place - Au Comptoir. It will make you feel like you've been whisked away to a bistro on the streets of Paris (without the cost of the flight).

The Parisian illusion starts with the bistro seats on the narrow patio that overlooks 4th Avenue. On opening the doors, you will be greeted by friendly, charming waiters with perfect French accents. A bank of tables on one side of the restaurant with blue leather bench searing provides for perfect people watching. The other rows of tables (with cast iron Singer sewing machine legs) provide more seating. The shiny tin bar adds sparkle and a little je ne sais quoi.

Au Comptoir serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays and breakfast, brunch, and dinner on weekends. There are separate menus for each meal so you can sit there all day rolling from one menu to the next.

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Nat's New York Pizzeria serves the legitimate, thin crust, Neapolitan-style pizza you'd expect to find in the Big Apple, made more authentic by the New York images and relics that adorn every square inch of wall space in this joint.

The pizza's crust and tomato sauce recipe originates from owners Nat and Franco Bastone's great great great grandmother's kitchen in Naples, Italy. The recipe eventually made its way to New York, where Nat and Franco travelled in 1991 to learn the family secrets. Nat and Franco (cousins who grew up in Vancouver and attended Kitsilano High School) opened their first pizzeria in Kits in 1992 and their West End location in 2000. Nat's quickly became a neighbourhood establishment and loyal patrons began spreading their love for the pizzeria by posing in exotic locations around the world wearing an official Nat's t-shirt. These pictures, of which there are easily hundreds, are immortalized on all the walls and counters.  

Along with an assortment of vegetarian and meat-lovers pizzas, Nat's also serves pasta, salads, and heros (foot long subs), all available for dine-in, take-out, or delivery. If given a choice, though, dine-in for the true New York, New York experience.

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Now considered part of the Kitsilano neighbourhood, this quaint little café was once considered part of the Delamont Park area. The building was constructed in 1907 and was the home of Eureka Grocery, owned and operated by Thomas Frazer. The grocery store later became Arbutus Grocery Store, and is now Arbutus Coffee. Many of the building's original heritage features remain, including the fenestration and corner entry. It was named as one of the Places That Matter by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation in 2012 for its importance to the city.

Like the shops before it, Arbutus Coffee remains a neighbourhood favourite. All their pastries and dishes are made in house, and coffee comes from North Vancouver's Bean Around the World. The café's character and its charm make it worth a visit for breakfast, lunch, or coffee (or tea)!

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If the bright yellow exterior doesn't catch your attention, then the cute little racoon face on the sign should be enough to entice you in to this independent coffee shop. And if the friendly staff behind the counter don't make you want to stay a while, then the coffee and food definitely will. 

Located on a side street just off 4th Avenue, Culprit Coffee Co. describes itself as Vancouver's first fully dedicated gluten free coffee shop. For those of you who say that gluten-free-anything must taste like cardboard, be prepared to swallow your words (excuse the pun). For those of you who are always searching for the best gluten free treats, welcome home. 

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