Confusion over high school football stadium project triggers new consultation

Confusion over construction of a high school football stadium in East Vancouver has prompted the City of Vancouver to break with protocol and request a new community consultation around the project.

The city is also asking Notre Dame Regional Secondary School to hold a neighbourhood open house.

The private Catholic school has applied for minor amendments to a 2008 development permit that allowed for the building of a natural grass field, bleachers and parking.

But some neighbours raised the alarm over increased traffic and noise when the school put out a press release announcing what seemed like a substantially larger project, which included seating and standing room for 2,000 spectators.

Karin Larsen/CBC

Drawings filed with the city entitled "McCarthy Stadium" also gave the impression a stadium construction project was in the works.

Developer William McCarthy, project manager of the Notre Dame building committee, says the school will be pleased to consult with the immediate neighbourhood to clear up some of the misconceptions.

"We in the Notre Dame community were somewhat surprised and disappointed that certain opponents of the project chose to misrepresent the size and scope of the project," McCarthy told CBC in an email.

'Not a stadium,' says developer

He explained that calling the project a "stadium" is "in keeping with how educational collegiates like Notre Dame refer to their sports field and seating," and said the perception that Notre Dame is building a destination sports facility is misguided.

"It is a school sports field with seating for the student body in the 700 to 800 range," he wrote "This is not a stadium destination."

Notre Dame has asked the city for three minor amendments to the 2008 development permit:

  • Changing the natural grass to artificial turf.
  • Moving the location of a storage facility.
  • Building an accessible viewing platform where a ramp had been planned.

In a letter, Vancouver's head of planning Gil Kelley said the minor amendments Notre Dame has applied for would not normally trigger a new public consultation, even if more than 10 years had passed since the permit was granted.

But, said Kelley, after reviewing the situation, "staff have advised Notre Dame of the need to reset the community consultation in order to gain official feedback from the neighbourhood through the [development permit] process prior to the city making a final decision on the application."   

According to the city, postcards seeking feedback from local residents will be sent out sometime this month. The open house the school has been asked to host is tentatively scheduled for mid-February.