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Frequently Asked Questions

Picnic shelter at LeRoy Haagen Community Park

Picnic shelter reservations
Parking fees
Special events in parks
Other questions

Picnic Shelter Reservations

Q: Which parks have reservable picnic shelters?

These parks all have picnic shelters that can be reserved for events and gatherings. When not previously reserved, the shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Picnic shelters at all other city owned parks are not reservable.

Reservations at Esther Short Park are handled by the City of Vancouver’s Events Office. Please contact Stacey Donovan at 360-487-8630 for more information.

Q: When are the picnic shelters available to reserve?
Reservations can be made for events occurring between May 1 and September 30 of each year. Vancouver Parks and Recreation will accept reservations for up to a year in advance.

Q: How do I make a picnic shelter reservation?
Call or visit Marshall Community Center during regular business hours to make your reservation.

Q: How much does it cost to reserve a picnic shelter?
Picnic shelter reservation fees are $50 per day. These fees help pay for maintenance and operation of the shelters.

Q: Is there a way to find out if an event is already scheduled at a park I’m interested in with non-reservable picnic shelters?
Yes. Contact Sean Douglas at 360-487-8330  to find out if there are any special events scheduled in a park with non-reservable picnic shelters on the date you wish to have an event.

Parking Fees

Q: Which parks or boat launches charge parking fees?

Parking fees are charged year-round at the City of Vancouver's Marine Park Boat Launch. Parking fees are charged at Wintler Park seasonally during the summer when fee collectors are present. Daily Fees: $5 per vehicle and $3 per motorcycle. All other City of Vancouver parks are free to enter and to park at.

Q: If I visit these parks frequently, can I get a discount on parking?
Vancouver Parks and Recreation offers an Annual Parking Pass for regular boat launch visitors. The pass costs $45 and can be used an unlimited number of times during the year it was purchased. Passes can be purchased at Marshall Community Center, Firstenburg Community Center, City Hall or at Marine Park when fee collectors are on site.

Q: Will I be charged a parking fee to drop someone or something off in the boat launch?
No. You will not be charged a parking fee if you are dropping off or picking someone up. You are only required to pay the daily fee if you are parking your vehicle.

Q: If I have to leave the park and return later the same day, do I have to pay the parking fee again?
No. If you keep your parking receipt, you can re-enter an unlimited number of times on the same day without paying again.

Special Events in Parks

Q: What are Park Use Permits?
A Park Use Permit gives you permission to bring special items and equipment to the park and describes any approved special services, like parking contracts or other parks staff assistance. A park use permit is not a reservation and may not grant you exclusive use of a nonreservable area, unless otherwise specified by the permit.

Q: Do I need to have a permit to hold an event in a public park?
Yes, depending on the type of event, you will need to get a Park Use Permit from Vancouver Parks and Recreation. Examples of events that would require a Park Use Permit:

  • Any gathering using amplified music or a loudspeaker
  • Any gathering using inflatable bounce house(s)
  • Any public events like athletic competitions, charity activities and concerts
  • Commercial Photo Shoots or Filming

Events or gatherings held at Esther Short Park must go through a separate permitting process.

Q: How do I apply for a Park Use Permit?
Call Sean Douglas at 360-487-8330 or apply for your Park Use Permit online.

Q: Is alcohol allowed in the parks?
Alcohol consumption or possession is not allowed at most parks, except with a Park Use Permit. Ceremonial toasts of champagne or wine may be permitted, however personal consumption of alcohol for personal events/activities is not. Community events, when properly staffed, and also permitted through the Liquor Control Board, may be permitted to serve alcohol within a park.

Q: Is amplified music allowed in the parks?
Amplified music is allowed in public parks on a case-by-case basis, with an approved Park Use Permit. Non-amplified (acoustic) music may be allowed without a permit. For more information or to apply for a permit call Sean Douglas at 360-487-8330.

Q: Are inflatable bounce houses and dunk tanks allowed in the parks?
Inflatable bounce houses are allowed in many parks with an approved Park Use Permit. Dunk tanks are never allowed.

Q: Do I need proof of insurance to have a bounce house at my event?
Yes. You will need to have the company you are renting the equipment from provide you with a Certificate of Liability Insurance, listing the City of Vancouver as “Additional Insured.” More questions about this issue can be answered as part of the Park Use Permit application process.

Q: Do any other types of activities require proof of insurance?
Yes. Whether or not your event will need proof of insurance will be discussed as part of the Park Use Permit application process. Some examples of other events that will require proof of insurance include:

  • Any athletic event (i.e. triathlons, races, disc golf tournaments, etc.)
  • Any event with vendors or where an admission fee is charged
  • Any event with dogs (i.e. dog shows, dog agility contests/trials, etc.)

Q: Can our church have a baptism at a park?
Baptisms are permitted on a case-by-case basis, depending on the park, the size of the event and other factors. A Park Use Permit is required for baptisms.

Q: Can I have my wedding at a park?
Weddings are permitted on a case-by-case basis, depending on the park, the size of the event and other factors. A Park Use Permit is required for all weddings.

Public parks are best suited for smaller, more intimate wedding ceremonies and receptions. If you are expecting more than 200 people, you may want to consider using a different type of facility.

For information about having a wedding at Esther Short Park please call Stacey Douglas at 360-487-8630.

Other Park Questions

Q: How do I find out about the status of a planned or undeveloped park in my neighborhood or community?
Please contact Monica Tubberville at 360-487-8353 for information.

Q: How do I get information about, or purchase, a fishing license?
Vancouver Parks and Recreation does not issue fishing licenses. For information about licensing in Washington State, please visit the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Your fishing license does not cover the parking fee at the park.

Q: Where can I go swimming?
Swimming or water contact is permitted at all public parks located next to rivers and lakes. There are no lifeguards at any City of Vancouver parks. Water contact is allowed at Wintler Community Park but swimming can be dangerous due to swift currents and sudden drop offs.

There are a number of other public swimming areas on the East Fork Lewis River, North Fork Lewis River, Washougal River, Yale Lake, Battle Ground Lake and Lake Merwin.

Q. Can I beach my boat or come to the shore line at Wintler Park?
No, all watercraft must remain 200ft. from the shoreline in the designated No Watercraft Area. This area is marked by signs on the beach.

Q: Can I camp at any of the parks?
Overnight camping is not allowed at any parks owned by the City of Vancouver.

Camping is allowed at some state and federal government-owned sites within Clark County, like Paradise Point State Park (Washington State Parks), Cold Creek Campground (State Dept. of Natural Resources), Rock Creek Campground (State Dept. of Natural Resources) and Sunset Falls Campground (United States Forest Service).

Q: Can I bring my dog(s) to the park?
You may bring your dogs to most City parks, but City of Vancouver ordinances require that they be leashed at all times and that owners clean up after their pets.

Q: Can I bring my barbecue to a park?
Yes, a personal gas or charcoal barbecue may be brought to any park, except Esther Short Park; however, please be aware of where you place the barbecue so it does not damage park property. Large barbecues towed on trailers are allowed on a case-by-case basis and require an approved Park Use Permit.

Q: Which parks have boat launches?

There are parking fees at the boat launches for day use. An annual pass is an economical option.

Still Have Questions?

Please call 360-487-8311 or send us an email

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