Well it will be two more years of city planning and attempts to find solutions to the difficult (insurmountable) problems that city planners identified in the Whitecaps Stadium proposal. From the community side of things, the game is not over yet.
While mainstream media trumpets the news that the stadium has been approved, this is not exactly the case. There will need to be resolution on the issues city staff identified, and this resolution will have to be complete before the go-ahead will be given for building. I’m hopeful. Half the people speaking at city hall over the protracted meetings were for the stadium, many only for the idea of a soccer stadium somewhere in the city. The other half: members of the Gastown and greater community, who for good reasons, found issues with the stadium in that location and as proposed. Those issues are all still outstanding, and may not be easy to resolve, no matter how much money is tossed into the process.
The Central Waterfront Coalition has been meeting regularly on Tuesday evenings at Blake’s on Carrall (221 Carrall exactly). Next Tuesday will be their last meeting of the summer. 6pm. All welcome.
More speakers will be heard by City Council tonight as the debate continues over the fate of the stadium proposal. A decision should be forthcoming on Tuesday, during the regular council session. Of course, emotions are still high on all sides, but now that the world cup is over, the timely soccer moment has passed. We could look without emotion at a plan that needs a serious overhaul before it could even be considered. The press which was so positive for the stadium plan, and the so-called “free money” given to the city for this plan, has had to take some backward steps when looking at the realities of the obstacles to this trojan horse stadium.
Supporters will again be at council chambers for the 4th night of impassioned speeches before the elected councillors. But more than the presentations on both sides, it is the realistic view of the city planners to this situation, and the very real problems of dangerous goods being housed or transported beneath the podium that indicate that this plan is a non-starter, something community groups such as the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition, the Gastown Residents Association and the Waterfront Coalition recognized from the outset.
By now there are over 160 members in the Gastown Residents Association, asking council to vote no to the proposed stadium, and to work with the Whitecaps to find a better location for the project. What about False Creek Flats, or the old Empire Stadium near Hastings Park, or use one of the existing stadiums to house the Whitecaps?
Traffic and crowds are a big concern. The Jazz Festival is a one-time a year event, but having massive crowds in the streets and traffic jams two to three times a week makes the area unlivable. I wonder how such a stadium would affect the Greenway. The work that has been done to create the concept of the Carrall Greenway, and its intentions to encourage more calmed traffic, a pedestrian-friendly and neighbourhood-friendly area, with recreational bike/blade paths, more trees, etc. could be compromised considerably if the stadium is built in the proposed location. That vision of this neighbourhood, with the amenities, public art, and use of public space it outlines doesn’t seem to co-exist with the large stadium as it is now presented.
The various views will be aired tonight at the City Council, and it is likely that the speakers’ list is too long for a decision tonight. There is much to consider and the media proponents of the stadium are really going full on. There will no doubt be a continuation of the council meeting on Thursday before a decision can be reached.
Wendy Pedersen's letter:
I am a member of the Central Waterfront Coalition and a parent of two young children who lives near to the proposed stadium on the Waterfront. There have been up to 80 kids living in my co-op in the last few years and my views are representative of many who live here and in other social housing in the area.
I disagree with the argument put forth by Stadium Now that opposition to the Waterfront Stadium is only about money and financial interests. Would other parents in Vancouver appreciate 15-30,000 soccer or concert fans invading their neighbourhood? There will be too much car traffic congestion, pedestrian traffic, pollution, noise from fans, noise from the stadium, and potential for hooliganism.
I worry that I won’t be able to get to the corner store with my kids on game or concert days. I wonder if my kids will get to sleep at 8 o’clock on hotsummer nights when I need to keep my windows open (a high profile concert promoter said he will book 100’s of concerts in the open air stadium).
The City Report on this proposal supports my belief that the stadium will be good for liquor establishments but not other businesses in Gastown. More bar stools, means more trouble. At the end of the day, my kids and I still won’t have a video store to go to.
I am in support of the Woodward’s style revitalization because it is about “residents” and “community.” This is the model of development that will make our neighbourhood a better place for everyone.
Erickson and Thom Agree that Comprehensive Plan is Needed for Central Waterfront
World renowned architects and urban design experts Arthur Erickson and Bing Thom have come forward to voice their opposition to the proposed Vancouver Whitecaps stadium.They were prompted to speak by their concerns about the stadium’s location, the failure of the stadium’s design to create a positive link between Gastown and the waterfront, and the negative impacts the stadium would have on the local heritage buildings. Both men are calling on city council to delay any decision on the stadium until a comprehensive plan is in place for the entire area.“We need a comprehensive plan for the whole waterfront,” says Thom. “This is our last piece of undeveloped waterfront and we cannot allow it to be developed in a piecemeal basis. We need a plan.”
“It has been proven in so many other situations – we need to be respectful in terms of how we develop our waterfront,” says Erickson. “Without a proper plan for the area, you might as well throw away all the good work that has been done in Vancouver to properly develop our waterfront and ensure that the public has access to these areas.”
Their comments echo the findings of the recent Policy and Technical Analysis of the stadium proposal, which concluded that problems with the proposal could only be resolved ‘if the Stadium is included as a use in a comprehensive plan for the entire area that includes the full rail yard, the Port’s Central Waterfront lands, Waterfront Road, and adjacent streets and properties’.
Both architects remain skeptical about the need for another downtown stadium and whether there isn’t a more suitable location for a project of this size somewhere else in Vancouver.
“When I look at what is being proposed, in my opinion they have located it in the worst place possible,” says Erickson. “It’s crazy and just doesn’t make sense.”
“The first thing that should be done is to establish whether there is a real need for a third stadium in the downtown area and that hasn’t been done yet,” says Thom. “Even if they could establish an actual need, I still don’t think this is the best location for a project of this size and scale.”
The Policy and Technical Analysis also expressed concerns about the location of the stadium and noted that the proposal had “fundamental flaws … that could not be resolved if the building must remain on the specific proposed six-acre portion of the rail yard”.The stadium proposal is slated to come before city council in mid-June.
Bing Thom is the principal of Bing Thom Architects, which he founded in 1980. He has established a reputation for innovative design on a wide range of projects including the Central City development in Surrey and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC. He has been awarded the Order of Canada for his contributions to architecture and the Golden Jubilee medal for outstanding service to his country.
Arthur Erickson is an internationally celebrated architect who is known for his modernist concrete structures that are designed to respond to the natural conditions of its location, especially climate. Among his many projects are the Vancouver Law Courts, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 1986, he was the first Canadian to be awarded the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects, the highest honour bestowed by the AIA. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1973 and promoted to Companion in 1981.
Read the Vancouver Sun coverage here.
Many discussions on the stadium indicate that most residents are not in favor of the proposal. It was great to see that the technical report from the consultants also indicated some serious problems with the proposal. The technical review commissioned by the city found it was “at odds with the scale, character, and activity in Gastown.”
Go to Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition for some images which illustrate the situation better than any words could.
What will be the effects on Carrall Street? Crowds and noise of course, along with transportation issues, and much more.
Speakers at the Press Conference: Anthony Norfolk (Gastown Heritage Area Planning Committee), Jon Stovell (Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition), Caryn Duncan (Central Waterfront Coalition), Carol Sill (Gastown Residents' Association) at Moonshine Cafe on Carrall Street in Vancouver, May 3rd.
After the walkabout to many of the very cool new stores in Gastown, meeting up with people from the neighbourhood along the way, I dropped in to the Mews off Carrall Street. Someone told me that an Emily Carr Grad show satellite gallery had temporarily taken over the restaurant space and one upstairs room. True enough. The place was packed with the young and the trendy looking at the experimental works, revealing an explosion of creativity, very alive. 9:00 PM. The Mews looked beautiful that night.
Also dropped by the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition tables, which had clear and surprising images of the proposed stadium and its shocking impact on the area. Such a disturbingly high contrast with the heritage buildings.
Talked to retailers, who had good turnout – some had around 150 people coming through their stores. Each store was like a small party, good feeling all around, people talking with each other, a successful event.