East Vancouver residents hit “flawed” city hall process for proposed Notre Dame school stadium

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      A number of East Vancouver residents suspect an end run in the works regarding a stadium in their neighbourhood.

      They are claiming that city hall’s handling of the proposed McCarthy Stadium at the Notre Dame Regional Secondary School has been faulty.

      “From the very beginning, the process regarding the application for the new stadium has been flawed,” the residents wrote in a letter to the city.

      The letter was addressed Gil Kelley, general manager of planning, urban design, and sustainability, whom they asked to deny the development permit application.

      According to the residents, the application has not been processed like any other development permit or DP submission.

      “A new DP application would normally involve a set of reviews by independent committees, and be subjected to vigorous review for design, suitability, and impacts,” the letter stated. “None of this happened for McCarthy Stadium – all because of the City’s initial error.”

      That supposed mistake was purportedly the city’s reference to the stadium proposal as a “minor amendment” to the private Catholic school’s old permit for the redevelopment of its East Vancouver campus.

      An operational letter submitted by the school to the city as part of the application provides some details as to how the project started.

      According to the letter, construction of a new campus started in 2008. It was completed in 2015.

      “The school is now preparing to complete the final phase of construction, moving the parking lot to Parker Street and completing the school field, which will be sunken between the parking lot to the south and the Fr Joe Ponti Academic Wing to the north,” Notre Dame wrote. “This is all part of the school's original development permit.”

      “Minor amendments were made limiting the seating to only hold the present school population of 740 students, as well as reconfiguring the parking lot and the school loading zones,” the Catholic learning institution’s letter continued.

      However, residents are not buying that the stadium constitutes only a minor amendment to the school’s old development permit.

      In their letter, the residents stated that the city and Notre Dame are “relying solely on one document, a site plan from 2008”.

      “This site plan was used to justify and bypass the proper public process,” the residents wrote. “But for the 2008 Site Plan, the developer would have had to apply for a new Development Permit with UDP review, full impact studies and, most importantly, full comprehensive neighbourhood consultation. None of these things have occurred.”

      The residents also wrote that city staff “acknowledged” the “error”, and “finally referred to the application as a new development permit application, rather than a minor amendment”.

      “However, notwithstanding the City’s recent acknowledgement, the City has not changed how the application is being processed,” the residents noted.

      The residents also released a newsletter that apparently bolsters their suggestion that a sports field was not a part of the school’s old development permit for a new campus.

      The newsletter cites an April 15, 2006 letter from the City of Vancouver, which stated that the Notre Dame redevelopment “does not include an artificial playing field, field lighting or outdoor bleacher seating that had been previously indicated by the applicant during the pre-application stage”.

      “Any future application for such futures (sic) will require a separate development permit application that will include the notification of neighbouring property owners,” according to the city’s letter.

      In their newsletter, the residents stated that the city’s letter “proves again what Notre Dame Neighbours have been saying about the original 2008 development permit”.

      “It shows that McCarthy Stadium was never really a ‘minor amendment’ to Notre Dame’s 2008 permit,” the residents noted.

      The City of Vancouver did not make a staff member available for an interview. A request for an interview with a Notre Dame representative was not granted.

      Residents have put up a website detailing their concerns about the McCarthy Stadium.