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.

Fire Department Concerned About McCarthy Stadium Traffic

In a welcome development, Vancouver’s Fire Prevention Division has requested an updated traffic study for the area around Notre Dame Regional Secondary. This comes nearly six weeks after Notre Dame Neighbours asked the fire department how McCarthy Stadium crowds and traffic will impact emergency response times at our Number 14 Firehall.
Here’s what Rick Cheung, Assistant Chief-Fire Protection Engineer told us in an email on 22 Oct 2018:
“Thank you for your feedback. Based on the information, I have recommended to the Development Services Department that the permit applicant provide an updated traffic study for the construction of the bleachers at the outdoor playing field.”

It’s significant that Assistant Chief Cheung spent some time reviewing the situation before asking for the new traffic study. His initial reaction to us was that there would be no impacts. Clearly when he examined the proposed changes more closely he changed his mind.

Notre Dame needs to take the safety of our community seriously. McCarthy Stadium is too big a change from the 2008 permit to proceed as a minor amendment. The school needs to apply for a new development permit with full and meaningful public consultation.