Garibaldi School – A Parking Lot for Notre Dame?

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Garibaldi field this spring

Residents protesting parked cars on Garibaldi field have learned that Notre Dame Regional Secondary is also looking to use the former elementary school field as a parking lot.

Former “School with a Big Heart” Now a Training/Conference Centre

When Garibaldi Annex was unofficially “closed” in June 2018, parents were told the field, playground and community garden would remain open for community use.

However last fall, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) began using Garibaldi as a conference/training centre. The field became an overflow parking lot.

Residents expressing concern to the VSB about the loss of recreation space were assured it was only temporary. However, the field is being used for parking most weekdays.  It’s often packed end to end with cars.IMG_8508

Where Do the Children Play?

This is a problem because, for many kids in the neighbourhood, Garibaldi is the only place close to home for off street play. The cars not only blocked access, but also left deep ruts, filled with water. The school board fixed the field several times, but the repairs only lasted a few days.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Community Soccer Game

Things came to a head in mid-July. After months of having their concerns ignored by the VSB, a group of parents tried to organize a soccer game for their children.  On July 18th, they went to the school and asked people driving onto the playground to park somewhere else. 

Some of the parkers were happy to comply, but others were not. School staff made some calls and, at around 9:00 am, a school liaison officer and city police arrived. They told the parents that, while they understood their concerns, the field was school property and the VSB was free to choose how it was used. The protesters were asked by the police to no longer interfere.
One parent told us that the presence of the police was a shock, given that all they wanted to do was organize a kid’s soccer game on a playing field they’d freely used for decades.
While the parents were explaining their concerns to staff and police, Geoffrey Permain, the VSB’s Grounds Supervisor arrived. He told them the cars would continue to use the field and that it would be resurfaced to make it more suitable for parking. He also hoped this would make it better for recreation and that, in the future cars would be asked to park away from the playground.
Mr. Permain also mentioned that other parties, including Notre Dame Regional Secondary, were looking at leasing the field for parking.
Garibaldi surfacing July 30
The work on the field is happening this week. It’s not clear at this point how much of it will be given over to parking.

Green Space Disappearing

It does look like this will be a permanent loss of recreation “green” space in our community.
We don’t know when Notre Dame might start using the field or how often. McCarthy Stadium construction could start at any time, leaving the school without its own parking. When the stadium is finished, its new parking lot will be much smaller than what is there now — and it will be only for teachers and staff, not students.
When Notre Dame rents the stadium weekdays and weekends to sports groups for practices and “special events” that will increase demand for parking in our neighbourhood.

Parking Challenges

It’s certain that more traffic is coming here. Between Garibaldi’s conference/training centre, Notre Dame’s McCarthy Stadium, new developments along Nanaimo and Renfrew and more infill housing (with second & third suites, laneway houses), our narrow streets will be busy.
If you have thoughts on how we should respond, we’d love to hear from you. Please write us at notredameneighbours@gmail.com
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2 thoughts on “Garibaldi School – A Parking Lot for Notre Dame?

  1. I think the neighbourhood has to be understanding that the VSB owns that field and they have a right to do what they wish during that 9am to 3pm school time. All year round in fact. Yes it is being used as a training/conference centre. The training going on is required to teach new support staff needed in the schools throughout Vancouver. If I Iived a little closer to the school and couldn’t park because students or staff were parking in the neighbourhood instead of a gravel field, I’d be more upset. Just like I am now when there is an event at Notre Dame. For someone to call Garibaldi “green” space is absurd. It’s a gravel field. Let’s try and understand the bigger picture.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. We did put “green” in quotation marks. It may be absurd to call a gravel field green space, but we’re down to scraps in this neighbourhood. I think the point was more about off street places for families to recreate than about how actually green they are. What did you mean by understanding the bigger picture?

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