ADDRESS TO VANCOUVER CITY COUNCIL

Yesterday I was one of 25 speakers to address council on the recent high-level review report on NorthEast False Creek. For video of all the remarks, click here. My own comments begin at 1:19:17 and run through to 1:31:45.

 

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Madam Chairwoman, Mister Mayor, Councillors, Fellow Speakers and Honoured Guests:

My name is Sean Bickerton and I am speaking today in response to the North East False Creek High Level Review as a resident of Tinseltown, a member of my strata, a member of the Keefer Community Group and of the False Creek Residents Association.

I address you today with respect for the offices you hold, and appreciation for your public service and the personal sacrifice demanded of those who accept the burden of public office. You are often called on to make tough choices for the rest of us, and the choice before you today is one of those.

Twenty years ago, Concord Pacific won the privilege of building out the entire EXPO lands as one contiguous development, subject to delivery of a number of public amenities, including Creekside Park and a continuous 35′ wide seawall.

And they did an amazing job of most of that development, creating an award-winning community in the process.

But as we are looking at a new proposal from the same developers today, it’s worth remembering that their original plan for the EXPO lands would have created many separate enclaves of balkanized private lagoons cut off from the downtown and from each other. Thankfully, city planners intervened, and Yaletown, with all of its spectacular waterfront, has been fully integrated into the rest of the city, its pedestal-style buildings making Vancouver famous as a world leader in modern urban design.

IMG_1765Sadly, though, the original promises to the City of Vancouver have still not been kept and Creekside Park still isn’t built. To the contrary, it’s covered with asphalt leaching pollutants into False Creek. And the seawall is nothing more than a narrow strip of crumbling pavement, bordered on one side by a rusting junkyard of environmentally hazardous construction equipment, and on the other by rusting razor wire and chain link fence. It is, to put it kindly, an eyesore.

The original concept for Creekside Park has long been approved by councils and park boards of all party affiliation after years of consultation with local residents and planners. It will be a splendid, gateway destination park welcoming nearby communities in the International Village, Chinatown, East Vancouver, Citygate and the Downtown Eastside. Families and visitors will also come from all over the city to relish the natural setting, see the spectacular open views of the water and skyline, and to take advantage of the many recreational opportunities this unique waterfront site offers.

Surprisingly, asked to try and speed up delivery of this long-delayed landmark park, Concord has instead proposed building a new row of condo towers right across the same land, literally cutting the park in half and stretching it out along the waterfront instead.

“What difference does the shape make if the overal amount of land is the same?” you might ask.

Please judge for yourselves. (At this point in the speech I employ a rectangular piece of cardboard, a piece of tape and a pair of scissors as visual aids).

If we start out with the original plan for our multipurpose waterfront oasis, (holding up the large rectangular piece of cardboard), cut it in half and tape the ends together like so, we still end up with a large block of land that could make a good park.

So far, so good. So what’s the problem?

creeksideextensionFirst, we have to leave room all along the much longer waterfront section of the now sideways park for the 35′ seawall. So let’s just cut away a strip for the seawall, like so.

Now what the diagrams don’t show is that the Carrall Street Greenway will be extended south right to the water’s edge, dissecting the park in two. And Abbott Street will also be extended to the water, further slicing up the park into a series of narrow, lozenge-shaped strips. So what is the community left with after twenty years of asking politely, Madam Chair?

Unfortunately, scraps! That’s what the community is left with … scraps.

The people of the area deserve better and I know that we can do better. I urge you to reject this report, and to reject Concord’s attempt to “reshape” our park right out of existence. The community has been asking politely for twenty years now. That was more than enough time to remediate any soil, so the time for that excuse is long past. Please do what is necessary to ensure that Creekside Park gets built as planned and promised to the area’s residents for the past two decades.

Thank You.