Field feud: Neighbours rally against proposed East Van school football stadium

People who live around Notre Dame Regional Secondary School in East Vancouver are rallying for a second time against a proposed all-weather football stadium planned for the school grounds.

The private Catholic school has claimed the stadium will accommodate up to 2,000 spectators once complete, something that worries the Notre Dame Neighbours group, which fought a similar proposal over a decade ago.

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"This neighbourhood rejected the stadium in 2006-07. Now, the school, with support from the City of Vancouver planning department, has quietly brought it back to life," reads the group website. "It is as if all the work we did 14 years ago never happened. Our concerns about traffic, parking, and noise are being ignored."

June Hunter lives half a block from Notre Dame. She feels the school is trying to pull a fast one by quietly asking for revisions to a 2008 development permit which allowed for the construction of a natural grass practice field.

"It's gone from a grass practice field with no stadium or seating and saving the trees ... to a full sized field with artificial turf," said Hunter. "The only way they can fit [the field] into the site is to insert it like a sink in a kitchen counter which means they'll have to cut down eight or 10 feet right where the poplars are."

Karin Larsen/CBC

Plan drawings submitted to the City of Vancouver show a sunken field shoehorned into the back of existing Notre Dame buildings, along with multiple rows of bleacher seating.

A 2017 release from school principal Roger Deslaurier bragged that "Notre Dame's teams will soon have the shortest walk from their custom designed locker rooms to their home field of any team." He also stated the stadium would have room for up to 2,000 spectators.

But according to the city's general manager of development, building and licensing, so far ... Notre Dame has only asked for three minor amendments to the 2008 permit — switching from natural grass to artificial turf, moving a storage facility and changing a planned wheelchair ramp into an accessible viewing platform.

"That's what's been approved, not a built stadium or new built forms," said Kaye Krishna. 

City of Vancouver

A request to speak with a Notre Dame representative was not returned by deadline.

Krishna says the city has asked Notre Dame to do more public outreach to clarify its intentions and the scope of the project. Failing that, the city could decide to hold a public consultation.

"Typically, with a minor amendment, we don't go back out to public review ... but because we've heard so much feedback and because there's been so much confusion, we're evaluating that as a deviation from our standard process."

The school has already named the project — McCarthy Stadium — after developer William P.J. McCarthy who donated $1.7 million to its construction. 

A petition against the stadium has 280 signatures so far.