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.