Minds Made Up Already
The Permit Development Board has approved Notre Dame’s application for McCarthy Stadium. The Board accepted the staff report without changes – only suggesting the school try to use the best materials for the new artificial turf field.
There was a good turnout to the Board meeting – extra chairs needed to be brought in – with between 35-45 people in attendance. Speaking for Notre Dame were school officials, their architects, coaches, several students, and 3 or 4 residents. About 12 residents spoke against the project, with more supporting them in the audience.
The sense from Notre Dame Neighbours in attendance, was that the Board was only going through the motions and that its members had decided in advance to approve the school’s application.
Mr. Paul Mochrie, a member of the Development Permit Board and the City’s Deputy City Manager, spoke about his long involvement in youth athletics and the need for more playing fields in Vancouver. He said that a project like McCarthy Stadium was important to the youth athletic community.
He also addressed the question of renting out the stadium. He suggested the school only wished to rent it out as practice space to other schools and that any championship games or third party rentals would have to apply for a permit through the City.
The Lombardy poplars were discussed, but it is certain they will be lost, now that the field is approved. It’s not clear when, as there are birds nesting in them at the moment.
With the Development Permit Board decision, we’re entering a new relationship with Notre Dame and the City. The school has what it wanted since 2002, a destination sports facility. Mr. McCarthy has his “new buildings and financing proformas” to “ensure the school’s ongoing financial and operations viability“.
They didn’t get everything they wished for. Field light footings are excluded and the rental is limited to practices for other schools. These are important restrictions and they wouldn’t have been imposed if not for our community action.
What else have we gained? For one, the knowledge that Notre Dame is not a good neighbour and is prepared to break agreements when it suits them.
The City is imposing a “Good Neighbour” agreement on Notre Dame. Residents should approach it with caution, but it will give us a forum to keep an eye on the school and force them to at least speak to us.
We’ll continue to send updates when we have them.