Notre Dame Stadium “FAQ”

Many of the FAQ’s at the Notre Dame Open House were taken directly from questions posed on Notre Dame Neighbours’ flyers & posters. While we appreciate the effort to answer those questions, the information provided was, in almost every case, misleading and/or incorrect. A major problem is the failure to address, at any point, the “elephant in the room” — the fact that this stadium, once built, will be rented out as a revenue source for the school and used for larger events, creating far more traffic, parking, safety, environmental and quality of life problems than is acknowledged in this, and other, information provided by the school.
Here are a few examples from information displayed at the April 3 Notre Dame Open House . . .

NDS FAQ blog

 

To see the diagram below with live links to the documents underlined in blue, open the PDF version of the FAQ here.

Big Changes. Not A “Minor Amendment”

Why is the City of Vancouver considering the construction of a massive concrete structure in a residential neighbourhood to be a “Minor Amendment” to a previously approved development application? The original application did not include a large, sunken, concrete structure with the capacity for 700+ people and an artificial turf field. Shouldn’t the construction of such a large, private, sports facility (in a residential neighbourhood) require a completely new application, if this massive concrete structure was not part of the original application?

Effects on the Neighbourhood – Parking and Traffic

The private sports stadium that the City of Vancouver is being asked to approve is a large concrete and artificial turf sports venue that has a stated seating capacity of 700+. Has the city done an assessment on the impacts of traffic and parking in this residential neighbourhood based on the actual capacity of the private venue that is being proposed, or is it basing its decisions on the “estimated attendance” that has been provided in the traffic assessment submitted by the applicant? A private venue of this capacity should be subject to the same assessment standards as a theatre, concert hall or nightclub. Shouldn’t it be granted approval based on its actual capacity, as opposed to an estimate of potential attendance that has been supplied by the applicant? Why does the traffic assessment submitted by the applicant not include any reference to the potential impacts of the actual, stated capacity of the venue that they are seeking approval for?

Public Safety issues – First responders delayed

There is a Fire Station that will be directly affected by the increased flow and density of traffic brought to the neighbourhood by this private facility. It is a matter of public safety that these first responders have immediate and unobstructed access to Renfrew Street at all times. Any increase in traffic or potential obstruction puts members of the public at risk, and is completely unacceptable.

It would be both reckless and irresponsible of the City of Vancouver to approve the construction of this private facility if the ability of first responders to respond to matters of public safety is hindered in any way. With a stated venue capacity of 700+ people, this would seem to be an obvious problem in approving a project of this nature, and would put public safety at risk if this application were to be approved.

Potential flooding, Property values

We know that there are underground waterways that flow beneath the field where this development is being proposed. Has the city done any environmental impact studies to determine how this massive, sunken, concrete structure, the concrete retaining wall, and the removal of the established soil base will affect potential flooding and water flow patterns in the surrounding residential neighbourhood? If not, why has this not been investigated? Any change in groundwater distribution/flooding patterns has the potential to negatively affect property values for homeowners in the surrounding area. The change in the permit application – from a grass field to a concrete stadium – has significant financial ramifications to property owners and taxpayers in the surrounding area. Why is this not being addressed?

Potential Wildlife/Environmental Impacts

Has the City done any environmental impact studies on whether or not the artificial turf that is being proposed by the applicant contains any pollutants that will leak into the groundwater? Are there any health risks to members of the public? If there have been no impact studies to determine this, it would seem like a responsible course of action for the city to do study this before approving the application.

Has the city done any impact studies on how the construction of this facility will affect established botanical/wildlife/bird habitat in the neighbourhood? If not, why has this not been addressed as part the public consultation process before moving forward with such an enormous project?

Please come to the Open House at Notre Dame and ask City Staff if any of these issues have been addressed. Please share any other concerns you have as well, and send them to us. Our email address is: notredameneighbours@gmail.com

The Open House is tomorrow, 3 April 2019, from 4:00 am to 7:00 pm. It’s not a public meeting – there won’t be an open mic – but you’ll be able to speak to representatives from the City of Vancouver.

Notre Dame Open House

3 April 2019, 4 – 7 pm

Many of you will have received this notice in the mail from the City of Vancouver announcing the long awaited Open House at Notre Dame.

The postcard says this is a Notice of Development Application. To be clear, the school is asking for a “minor amendment” to the existing 2008 permit and NOT a new permit. We feel that Notre Dame’s McCarthy Stadium project is such a departure from the original development permit that it requires an entirely new one. We would much prefer that they keep to their original agreement and build their students a grass practice field. And while we’re pleased the City is requiring Notre Dame to hold this Open House, this is not real community consultation.

The limited Open House hours show how little Notre Dame is actually interested in community input. It may serve the school’s parents and staff to begin at 4:00pm. However, wrapping things up by 7:00pm means many residents will have to rush to get there after work and getting children fed. It will leave little time to talk to school and city representatives.

A development of this magnitude deserves more that a three hour Open House.

The school’s website (News and Announcements) says the Open House is an opportunity to “provide accurate and up to date information” about McCarthy Stadium.

That will be refreshing.

So far we’ve had a challenge getting information of any kind from Notre Dame. From the moment the orange tree protection fencing appeared on Parker Street it is only because residents did their own research that we know the actual scope of the school’s plans.

The City has slowly and reluctantly taken note of our concerns. Last fall, it was prepared to grant the school its minor amendment with no discussion. Now, with pressure from this neighbourhood, they are requiring Notre Dame hold the Open House “to reset the community consultation in order to gain official feedback from neighbourhood”. The City has also asked for an updated traffic study (although this is not mentioned in the mail-out).

Previously, Notre Dame claimed that the bleachers were always part of their plan. Now, according to the mail-out, the Notre Dame proposal is (as we’ve said from the beginning) not just for a new artificial turf playing surface, but for: “New bleachers and viewing platforms; new retaining walls and reconfiguration of the parking lot.”

The mail-out from the City is silent about the poplar trees along Kaslo. The 2008 permit notes clearly that the trees are to be retained. It’s hard to see how a full sized football field can be crammed into the small school site without damaging the poplar trees. The City and Notre Dame need to be up front about their fate.

The poplars should be saved.

The artificial turf is also problematic. More and more studies are showing that it’s not good for players, or for the environment. A creek flows underneath Notre Dame. The Archbishop signed a covenant to protect it. There should be an environmental study to assess the impact of a sunken artificial turf field on the creek, including investigation into what harm the particulates running off the artificial turf will have on the watershed.

Many other questions and concerns remain:

  • Will McCarthy Stadium eventually have field lights?
  • Will Notre Dame rent the multi-million dollar stadium to outside groups? (We assume the answer to this is yes, as they already rent out their gymnasium. The real question is what limits, if any, will be put on rentals?)
  • Where will students and visitors park?
  • How will our neighbourhood absorb all the new traffic?
  • What steps, if any, will be taken to mitigate noise from the stadium?
  • What washroom facilities will be available to visitors?

The original 2008 permit was good for the neighbourhood and good for the students.

The city should deny the “minor amendment” request. Notre Dame should build a grass practice field as promised. If it is determined to build a stadium that the neighbourhood does not want, the school should at least have to apply for a new building permit.

Please mark April 3rd on your calendars and go to the Open House.

In addition, mark April 19th on your calendars and make sure you also put your questions and concerns about McCarthy Stadium in writing to Andrew Wroblewski, Project Facilitator or call him at 604-673-8460

You can email us at notredameneighbours@gmail.com if you’d like to sign our petition.

Clinton Park Day

The old field house at Clinton Park is getting a new lease on life with the help of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. Come to the party! Notre Dame Neighbours will be there, along with the Clinton Neighbourhood Committee. Stop by our tents to say hello. We’ll have flyers, petitions and information boards.

Activities for Clinton Park Day include: 
Music: The Gram Partisans 11:30-12:00; Norine Braun 12:​30-​1:​00​, neighbourhood music jam ​1:30 (bring your instruments) 
Sharing your ideas for programming at the Clinton Park Field House with Co-design Artists [Noon to 2:00 in the Field House] 
Kid’s Games, Face Painting 
Learn about Mason Bees, Pruning and Garden Tips 
Refreshments

Clinton Park Day
Sunday, 10 March 2019
11:00 – 3:00 pm
Rain or Shine

For more information about the Clinton Neighbourhood Committee and their work to keep Clinton Park open for all, contact them at: clintonpark2018@gmail.com 
You can learn about Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House here
See you next Sunday!

Open House Postponed

New Traffic Study Announced!

We just received an “auto-response” email from the City of Vancouver’s Andrew Wroblewski. He’s the project facilitator for the Notre Dame Open House. We wrote to ask him when the Open House might happen.

It turns out it’s postponed until sometime in April. One reason for the delay is that the school is now required to do a traffic study.

It’s good to see that our concerns about McCarthy Stadium traffic and parking are having an impact. The updated traffic study is an important step in the right direction.

However, it’s not clear about the scope of the traffic study. After reading his email, you may want to ask Mr. Wroblewski a few questions.

To Whom It May Concern;

In the past few months, we have heard concerns from the community with respect to the Notre Dame sports field.  This email is to provide information and an update on this development that is currently under review.

The school will be hosting an open house to engage the community and ensure that their concerns are heard.  While we originally estimated that the open house would be held in late January or early February, it has come to our attention that Notre Dame will need more time to prepare for an open house based on the community feedback we have heard so far.  Some of this preliminary work will take time, including the preparation of an updated traffic study, therefore; we are now targeting a post-spring break open house in early April. Please be assured that no decision on the application will be made prior to our notification process, the opportunity for the community to provide feedback for staff review and the open house.

A postcard delivered to the neighbourhood will arrive by mail in early March, providing further details on the open house and details on how to provide feedback.

Yours truly,
Andrew Wroblewski | Project Facilitator andrew.wroblewski@vancouver.ca 604-673-8460

We should take a moment to digest what is happening here.

In mid-August, orange fences went up around trees on 2800 Parker Street. At any moment, the Lombardy poplars along Kalso Street could have been cut and Notre Dame free to begin work on McCarthy Stadium. All this might have happened with a simple yes from the City with no public discussion.

Notre Dame and the City seemed to think this was acceptable because in their view, McCarthy Stadium was simply a change from a grass field to an artificial turf field, needing only a minor amendment to the existing permit.

However, after strong pushback and evidence to the contrary from our neighbourhood, the City has been having second thoughts.

First, in December it required Notre Dame have an Open House to “reset the community consultation in order to gain official feedback”.

Now, in February, the City wants the school to do an “updated traffic study”.

None of this would have happened if you hadn’t spoken up.

We’re pleased the City is beginning to listen. However, it’s not good enough to find out about a major development like a traffic study as part of an automated response.

We should be at the table taking part in the decision making process, not outside looking in.

Another Letter to City Hall

This wonderful letter to City Hall was written by Sarah Groves who is both an environmental scientist and artist.

04 December 2018

Dear Mayor & Councillors:

Re: Request for development permit amendment at Notre Dame School and environmental stewardship

Although environmental issues did not feature prominently in the October election, environmental stewardship is the backbone of a sustainable city and must be an integral part of every planning decision, especially as Vancouver aspires to be the greenest city by 2020. Continuing development pressure from urban densification through redevelopment, laneway houses, etc. compromises environmental values throughout the city and must be making the objective of planting 150,000 trees by 2020 (City of Vancouver, Urban Forest Strategy 2014) and keeping them healthy a significant challenge. In this context, protecting existing mature trees must be a priority.

The request by Notre Dame School for an amendment to its 2008 development permit is a case where environmental considerations appear to be absent from the decision-making process. The proposed “minor” amendment would replace a natural turf field with artificial turf, a synthetic product with no capacity to trap carbon dioxide, none of the cooling effects of natural turf, and ecological value similar to a slab of concrete. This installation would require the removal of a stand of mature trees, a community legacy and amenity of ecological value.

Even small patches of green space and trees have ecological value and can provide important habitat and networks of habitat that support biodiversity of resident and migrant species. The historical decline in tree canopy cover in Vancouver has occurred project by project in small increments that produce large cumulative effects. The proposed “minor” amendment to the development permit for Notre Dame School (located in an area of the city with low tree canopy cover) would contribute irreversibly to this trend and should not be considered without a new development permit application that will allow full and open public consultation and consideration of the proposal.

Yours truly,

Sarah Groves

Cc. Sadhu Johnston, City Manager

An Open Letter to City Hall

Golden Poplars

Our Notre Dame Neighbours group has written many, many letters to the City of Vancouver over the past few months expressing our concern over the glaring lack of community consultation re the proposed Notre Dame McCarthy Stadium. We’ve quoted permits and traffic plans and made points about parking, noise, traffic, safety, drainage and fears for the quality of life of our neighbourhood.

This blog post by one of our members is a letter of a different sort — a heartfelt Open Letter to the City of Vancouver – https://urbannature.blog/2018/11/29/a-letter-to-city-hall/

Delicate Balance

Reference Documents

Below you will find links to the original permit documents issued to Notre Dame School, — a permit to construct a graded grass practice field (not sunken), set back 5.5 metres from the Kaslo Street poplars to avoid damaging their roots. There are no seats visibly included in this permit as it was meant to be a practice field only.

The first link is a Press Release issued by Notre Dame School in January 2017, in which they outline their plans for the site. They have since removed the document from their web site, but we include it here in the belief that it is an accurate description of the school’s ultimate ambitions.

Notre Dame Stadium Press Release 2017

Notre Dame Stadium Timeline

Notre Dame Minor Permit Amendment Operational Notes, September 2018

Minor Permit Amendment Request Jan 2018

Original Notre Dame Permit Apr 29 2008

Community Notice April 29 2008

Permit Conditions Feb 2007

2007 Permit Highlights

Arborist’s Report March 2007

Transport Management Plan 2007

A Visual on the Notre Dame Stadium Problem

An aerial view of Notre Dame School and the surrounding area shows at a glance why the addition of a destination sports facility on that site and in this neighbourhood is such a bad idea.

Notre Dame stadium problems

A comparison of the size and location of Notre Dame School as compared to other high schools with sports fields shows the problem in an even clearer light.

Other schools with large sports fields:

  • Have MUCH BIGGER campuses and more students
  • Are located in less densely populated areas
  • Are partly bordered by park or woodland to provide buffering between sports field and neighbours

The red box is the size of Notre Dame’s campus. Blue borders mark the campus sizes of the other schools.

school-stadiums-comparisons.jpg