Save Creekside Park!

creeksideextensionTwenty years ago, Concord Pacific promised to build Creekside Park as a destination gateway park welcoming East Vancouver and the DTES to the False Creek waterfront in exchange for the rights to develop the old EXPO lands as one contiguous development. Later, they also gained the right to add another 2600 units to the development, with no other commitments than to fulfill the existing obligation to complete the seawall and build Creekside Park.

Today, they are trying to renege on that commitment, proposing instead to build a row of condo towers along the waterfront, with a narrow strip of three small lozenge-shaped parks in front so the new owners have a place to walk their dogs.

In writing about this subject, I feel obliged to disclose that Concord was one of the largest donors to my electoral campaign last year. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope they supported my candidacy because I am committed to doing everything possible to make this area a better place to live for everyone here. And for me, that means helping to ensure that Creekside Park gets built as promised.

As a member of the Steering Committee of the False Creek Residents Association (FCRA), as a resident of this area, and as someone who loves this city, I am diametrically opposed to this proposal.

If you, too, care about green space in this area, or Vancouver’s parks, please show up tonight at the Vancouver Park Board hearing at West Point Grey Community Centre, 4397 West 2nd Avenue, on Monday, October 19, 2009 at 7:00 pm.

And if you can’t make tonight’s meeting, please show up to City Council’s Planning and Environment hearing on the Northeast High Level Review on Thursday, Oct 22 at 2pm at City Hall. I’ll be speaking on Thursday, joined by many other members of our community intent on seeing Creekside Park completed in the next five years. Please join us!

Below is an open letter from the FCRA Co-chair that lays out a bit of the contentious history for this too-long delayed park:

An Open Letter To Mayor Robertson & City Council from the False Creek Residents Association from our co-Chair, Patsy McMillan:

To Mayor and Council/Park Board
re: HLR report for NEFC
Your Worship and City Councillors:
After having spent several hours at the consultative group meetings and having done
considerable research into the report before you I would like to remind you of the numbers involved and the history of the situation.  Numbers never lie and we can only learn about what is in the future by looking at what has happened in the past so that we can move forward in a way that best exemplifies the concept of Vancouver being one of the most livable cities in the world.
First, the ODP for North False Creek which was established in 1990 required the developer, Concord Pacific, to deliver 4 parks to the City of Vancouver ( David Lam Park, George Wainbourn Park, Cooper’s Park and Creekside Park) in exchange for development permits for 7,650 residential units. Over the past 20 years Concord Pacific has been given increased residential density to 10,000 units plus 100,000 sq. ft. without increasing the park per capita investment in the community so that they are now at a net loss of 6 acres of park space not including the undeveloped 9.06 acre Creekside Park. The developer has also at several stages asked for the complete dismissal of the unit cap number so that they can continue to build without providing any further amenities including those already contracted.
Further negotiations between the City, the Developer Concord and the Provincial Government ( Utility Design Agreement) allowed the developer to wait until the last of their land was developed so that the contaminated soils in Lot 6C could be moved to the future park site.  If you calculate this remediation according to the George Wainbourn park remediation costs for “special waste” this would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $33 – 66 million. Is the land, 6C, in it’s present commercially zoned tax rate equal to that expense or should the land be swapped for a more viable, less toxic city owned site that would provide Concord with a better return on their
investment, save the BC taxpayers the cost of the soil remediation and create a land base for a memorable waterfront park on the north shore of False Creek?
Second, the two surveys conducted by the planning department staff over the past several months at public open houses indicate that 68% – 75% of all the respondents are not in favour of the re- configuration of Creekside Park from a large square usable space to a long linear unusable and disconnected strip of land, half the depth of the original park space which would be cut through by the Carrall St. Greenway as well as Abbott St and the Georgia St. Walkway ( proposed) and the same number of respondents were not in favour of the increased density to 4 million sq ft. or 7200 more residents when we are already without commensurate amenities and services in NEFC. If you compile the density figures you will see that what is being proposed is a 9 FSR or nine times the land mass. In the dense and noisy West End it is only a 1.5 – 4 FSR and overall in NFC it is 4.5 FSR.  So we are looking at double the amount of density that has already been allowed in NFC and at least triple the density in the West End over a much smaller area with no further amenities.
At what point in the increased densification of the downtown area of Vancouver do we become one of the world’s most unlivable cities?  By changing the noise by-laws, changing the per capita green space target ratio and by possibly voiding the Mt. Seymour view corridor if the developer is allowed to build condo towers along Pacific Blvd. from Abbott St.  to Quebec St. you will allow the livability of  Vancouver to be seriously altered forever. This is a total betrayal of the existing residents of the area and the overall taxpayers of Vancouver who may or may not be aware of what is being proposed by this report. The report talks about the “ landowners” who are really the land developers.  The land owners aka residents of the area are not in favour of this increased density and they have said so on numerous occasions as well as stipulating this in the HLR survey.
The HLR report before you speaks repeatedly about the “ re-shaping of Creekside Park”. As a member of the consultative group I can tell you that this only came up in the last couple of meetings as the planning dept. knows that the consultative group, to a member, was against this plan. Not one of the members polled was in favour of this change to the ODP. The Creekside Park size and shape was approved more than 20 years ago after extensive public consultation and input. Every City Council and every Park Board since has adhered to this plan.
In June and July on 1995 Concord Pacific tried to have the Unit Cap removed but the council and the park board of the day would not allow this to happen with the Park  Board feeling so strongly about this that many of the Commissioners attended the City Council meeting to uphold their mission statement “ to provide, preserve and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit people, communities and the environment”.  The Park Board and its elected Commissioners will hopefully continue to speak out in favour of what is good for the City of Vancouver and not what is good for a specific developer whose only concern is how much money they can make and not the city that has enabled them to do so.
There has been  extensive park design plans approved by both City Council and the Park Board after hours of public consultation and community input.  The large acreage park between Carrall St and Quebec St.  is what the community of Vancouver needs in order to bring the east side of Vancouver into False Creek and to provide an open public realm for the families and children who come to False Creek as their only option for a chance to experience this open water way. By allowing the re-shaping of Creekside Park from the large plot allocated now to a linear space running beside the seawall walkway, broken up by Carrall St and Abbott St., you will essentially deny the children, youth and families from the east side of Vancouver this important experience
and you will allow a developer to build condos along Pacific Boulevard which will possibly void the Seymour Mountain View Corridor to the remainder of Vancouver taxpayers not to mention the legal ramifications to those taxpayers if the purchasers of the Millennium Water project decide to sue the city real estate dept. for false representation if they had purchased a suite with a mountain view that no longer exists.

I am imploring you to look at all of the facts, to take note of the HLR survey results that indicate an overall  lack of support for this proposal and to make a decision based on those facts as well as the history and the future of what the residents want for the City of Vancouver.

Patsy McMillan,
Chair, Citygate Intertower Community Group
Co-Chair, False Creek Residents Association
Member HLR Consultative Group

To Mayor and Council/Park Board

re: HLR report for NEFC

Your Worship and City Councillors:

After having spent several hours at the consultative group meetings and having done considerable research into the report before you I would like to remind you of the numbers involved and the history of the situation.  Numbers never lie and we can only learn about what is in the future by looking at what has happened in the past so that we can move forward in a way that best exemplifies the concept of Vancouver being one of the most livable cities in the world.

First, the ODP for North False Creek which was established in 1990 required the developer, Concord Pacific, to deliver 4 parks to the City of Vancouver ( David Lam Park, George Wainbourn Park, Cooper’s Park and Creekside Park) in exchange for development permits for 7,650 residential units. Over the past 20 years Concord Pacific has been given increased residential density to 10,000 units plus 100,000 sq. ft. without increasing the park per capita investment in the community so that they are now at a net loss of 6 acres of park space not including the undeveloped 9.06 acre Creekside Park. The developer has also at several stages asked for the complete dismissal of the unit cap number so that they can continue to build without providing any further amenities including those already contracted.

Further negotiations between the City, the Developer Concord and the Provincial Government ( Utility Design Agreement) allowed the developer to wait until the last of their land was developed so that the contaminated soils in Lot 6C could be moved to the future park site.  If you calculate this remediation according to the George Wainbourn park remediation costs for “special waste” this would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $33 – 66 million. Is the land, 6C, in it’s present commercially zoned tax rate equal to that expense or should the land be swapped for a more viable, less toxic city owned site that would provide Concord with a better return on their

investment, save the BC taxpayers the cost of the soil remediation and create a land base for a memorable waterfront park on the north shore of False Creek?

Second, the two surveys conducted by the planning department staff over the past several months at public open houses indicate that 68% – 75% of all the respondents are not in favour of the re- configuration of Creekside Park from a large square usable space to a long linear unusable and disconnected strip of land, half the depth of the original park space which would be cut through by the Carrall St. Greenway as well as Abbott St and the Georgia St. Walkway ( proposed) and the same number of respondents were not in favour of the increased density to 4 million sq ft. or 7200 more residents when we are already without commensurate amenities and services in NEFC. If you compile the density figures you will see that what is being proposed is a 9 FSR or nine times the land mass. In the dense and noisy West End it is only a 1.5 – 4 FSR and overall in NFC it is 4.5 FSR.  So we are looking at double the amount of density that has already been allowed in NFC and at least triple the density in the West End over a much smaller area with no further amenities.

At what point in the increased densification of the downtown area of Vancouver do we become one of the world’s most unlivable cities?  By changing the noise by-laws, changing the per capita green space target ratio and by possibly voiding the Mt. Seymour view corridor if the developer is allowed to build condo towers along Pacific Blvd. from Abbott St.  to Quebec St. you will allow the livability of  Vancouver to be seriously altered forever. This is a total betrayal of the existing residents of the area and the overall taxpayers of Vancouver who may or may not be aware of what is being proposed by this report. The report talks about the “ landowners” who are really the land developers.  The land owners aka residents of the area are not in favour of this increased density and they have said so on numerous occasions as well as stipulating this in the HLR survey.

The HLR report before you speaks repeatedly about the “ re-shaping of Creekside Park”. As a member of the consultative group I can tell you that this only came up in the last couple of meetings as the planning dept. knows that the consultative group, to a member, was against this plan. Not one of the members polled was in favour of this change to the ODP. The Creekside Park size and shape was approved more than 20 years ago after extensive public consultation and input. Every City Council and every Park Board since has adhered to this plan.

In June and July on 1995 Concord Pacific tried to have the Unit Cap removed but the council and the park board of the day would not allow this to happen with the Park  Board feeling so strongly about this that many of the Commissioners attended the City Council meeting to uphold their mission statement “ to provide, preserve and advocate for parks and recreation services to benefit people, communities and the environment”.  The Park Board and its elected Commissioners will hopefully continue to speak out in favour of what is good for the City of Vancouver and not what is good for a specific developer whose only concern is how much money they can make and not the city that has enabled them to do so.

There has been  extensive park design plans approved by both City Council and the Park Board after hours of public consultation and community input.  The large acreage park between Carrall St and Quebec St.  is what the community of Vancouver needs in order to bring the east side of Vancouver into False Creek and to provide an open public realm for the families and children who come to False Creek as their only option for a chance to experience this open water way. By allowing the re-shaping of Creekside Park from the large plot allocated now to a linear space running beside the seawall walkway, broken up by Carrall St and Abbott St., you will essentially deny the children, youth and families from the east side of Vancouver this important experience

and you will allow a developer to build condos along Pacific Boulevard which will possibly void the Seymour Mountain View Corridor to the remainder of Vancouver taxpayers not to mention the legal ramifications to those taxpayers if the purchasers of the Millennium Water project decide to sue the city real estate dept. for false representation if they had purchased a suite with a mountain view that no longer exists.

I am imploring you to look at all of the facts, to take note of the HLR survey results that indicate an overall  lack of support for this proposal and to make a decision based on those facts as well as the history and the future of what the residents want for the City of Vancouver.

Patsy McMillan,
Chair, Citygate Intertower Community Group
Co-Chair, False Creek Residents Association
Member HLR Consultative Group