Tag Archives: Notre Dame Secondary School

Vancouver City Council Washing Their Hands Of Notre Dame Debacle

30 May

 

For those that follow us regularly, you will know we are big fans of East Van artist, June Hunter.  We have a mutual love, admiration and respect for urban nature and wildlife that call East Van home.  June and her Notre Dame Neigbours organized a peaceful group last Fall to oppose a large stadium being built at Notre Dame Secondary School in Hastings Sunrise.  If you are not up to speed on the issue, check out our last post What Does Community Really Mean? for some background. A big part of the quest is to save a small piece of urban nature, some poplar trees that line the City street next to Notre Dame Secondary School.  Today, we provide you with an update. It was learnt that an error was made in respect of this development application (admitted as such by City staff), but alas Vancouver City Council appears to have washed their hands of this issue and passed the matter to the Development Permit Board for decision which will be made on June 10th. No consultation has been done with the community, no traffic impact studies, noise implications addressed or environmental concerns, nothing.  So this is a Council that was elected to ‘do things differently’, so they say to get your vote.   But are they really doing things differently?  You be the judge.

We now share Notre Dame Neighbour’s letter to elected members of Vancouver City Council and Mayor Kennedy on this issue:

While the fate of our neighbourhood is a relatively small municipal matter, the character of a city is made up of these “small” issues and how they are dealt with. The principles that are being ignored in this situation are vital ones. Allowing them to slide says something disturbing about our city.

The permit process has been unfair from the start. Front line Permit staff were not correctly briefed on the content of the original permit (DE410128) and went on to treat the matter, in error, as a minor permit amendment for months. Although they were forced to admit the mistake in late March 2019, the process has still not been amended in any meaningful way. Now there is a rush to get it over the finish line by June 10, only weeks after it was “discovered” to be a new permit application at all.

Because of all this confusion, no independent studies have been done on safety, traffic, parking, noise and environmental problems posed by the stadium. A 2018 one-sided “Tree Risk Assessment” has been allowed to supersede an earlier, far more complete, Arborist report that said the trees on Kaslo could be saved by setting the field back by 5.5 metres.

While this may seem a minor matter,  is top of mind for many of the people living in our neighbourhood. 360 of us signed a petition to that effect, and many people wrote letters to the City of Vancouver on the topic. As Vancouver taxpayers, we stand to have our lives turned upside down by this project. Beneficiaries of the stadium are students, parents, staff, alumni of a private school, many of whom do not live in Vancouver, let alone close enough to the school to be affected.

We accept that our area is becoming denser as more people need housing. Housing people is a necessity and a  moral issue. A recreational facility for people who drive here and leave is not.

 This issue could well come back to haunt Council later. Notre Dame School insists that their stadium will be used very occasionally for school games, drawing negligible traffic. If you look at the cases of St. Patrick’s School in Toronto and Immaculata High School in Ottawa the potential problems are made crystal clear. In each example the sports fields there are rented extensively, causing traffic and noise problems sufficient to destroy local quality of life. Legal action is pending in Toronto, and City officials in both cities are left scrambling to retroactively solve the problem. 

Once a permit is issued, there will, as far as we can tell, be nothing preventing Notre Dame School from emulating the revenue-gathering practices of these Ontario schools, in spite of current  assurances to the contrary. 

Vancouver Council has a chance to get in front of this issue now and take a greater interest in what it really means for our neighbourhood — and for other Vancouver neighbourhoods where similar issues will no doubt be arising soon.

This council was recently elected on the promise to do business differently than the previous Vision Council, with more listening to, and consulting with, citizens.

I have asked them look at this matter again. Live up to the promise: halt the rubber stamping Development Permit Board meeting, and subject this project to proper scrutiny.” 

So is it the same old same old at City Hall?  The talk of being more open and transparent and having community consultations seems a line only intended for the election news cycle.

What Does Community Really Mean? Notre Dame Neighbours Are Learning It Doesn’t Include Them

28 Mar

NotreDameNeighboursLogoFor those that follow us regularly, you will know we are big fans of East Van artist, June Hunter.  We have a mutual love, admiration and respect for urban nature and wildlife that call East Van home.  June Hunter and many of her neighbours organized last Fall to form a peaceful group called Notre Dame Neighbours to oppose a large stadium and artificial turf field.  This development application was proposed in 2004 – 2005 by Notre Dame School located in Hastings Sunrise. The school is just steps from June Hunter’s home.  In 2004-2005, Notre Dame School had revealed plans for a new campus, sports stadium and removal of the perimeter poplar trees.  Residents were fine with the new building, but opposed the sports stadium and tree removal.  So after some back and forth, a compromise was reached and Notre Dame School agreed to build a grass practice field instead of the stadium and keep the trees.   The building was finished a few years ago, but the sports field construction never took place.NotreDameNeighboursConcerns

In September 2018, residents learnt purely by accident that Notre Dame School had submitted a request for a minor amendment to the 2008 building permit to the City of Vancouver. But the amendment was far from minor, it was basically the original development plan submitted in 2004-2005 that was opposed by residents. This time around, funny thing, neither the City of Vancouver or Notre Dame School informed the residents of the proposed changes to the development application.

Last winter Notre Dame Neighbours started a letter writing campaign to get more information which continues you to this date with Freedom of Information requests and minimal helpful response from the City of Vancouver.

Hundreds of local residents have signed a petition, citing urgent concerns around parking, traffic safety, noise, and loss of green space and asking that the matter be moved to a new building permit process so that all of those important matters can be properly studied. Notre Dame Neighbours will hand this petition over to the City next week. If you wish to get a sense of the timeline of events, Notre Dame Neigbhours have prepared one, see Timeline.

We appreciate development and change are necessary as part of a growing City, but the communities we live in are shared by everyone who lives and works there.  That includes the wildlife and birdlife that June Hunter regularly features in her art work and on her blog.  She truly provides a bird’s eye view into the variety of species that call East Van home.  June Hunter is committed to saving her urban forest and on doing research on the topic, learnt that urban forests play an important role in climate change. June also learnt of an interesting new project called Citizen Cool Kit being discussed by the University of BC Forestry Department.  It’s an initiative encouraging local neighbourhoods to come together to lower their carbon footprint.  The view is that it is an all community based effort to combat climate change.  An important aspect of this is maintaining and enhancing our urban forests.

What we don’t like about development in Vancouver is when the City slamming the door on residents trying to get access to information about what’s happening in their own neighbourhoods.  The Notre Dame Neighbours were hopeful with a new Council having been elected last fall that there might be more transparency and although they did get a few ears after much persistence, they do feel left out of the process. Considering the repercussions that residents would have to deal with including extra noise, traffic and a host of other issues, Notre Dame Neighbours should be party to the discussions that affect their daily lives.

NotreDamePermitApplication

There is an Open House happening at Notre Dame School, 2880 Venables Street on Wednesday, April 3rd from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The timing is a little suspect, as those with families, working and commuting, may find it challenging to make that time.

We at ILiveInEastVan are passionate about community, we all share the spaces we live  whether apartment buildings, churches, schools, streets, roadways, parks, the air, all of it.  So this one has us a bit perplexed as it’s Notre Dame Secondary School, a school which is founded on God and Community and espouses values to its student, faculty and alumni. This is what they state as their values on the school’s website and we quote (our emphasis in bold):

LOVE

We are committed to loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls and all our minds, and to loving our neighbours as ourselves.

SERVICE

With Jesus Christ as our model we serve our own community and respond to the needs of the greater community through prayer and good works.

COMMUNITY

Students, teachers and staff, parents, pastors and parishes, and alumni work together as the Notre Dame community. We foster healthy relationships  between  all members of the community and we respect. 

So when they speak of community, do they mean only amongst themselves?  It certainly is the impression that the Notre Dame Neighbours are left with at this juncture.

If you wish to contact the City about this development application, you are welcome to write to Project Developer, Andrew Wroblewski at email Andrew.wroblewski@vancouver.ca or Director of Planning, Gil Kelly email Gil.Kelly@vancouver.ca.  If Vancouver wishes to continue touting itself as one of the Greenest Cities In The World, they may wish to try and keep more of what makes it green.

If you wish to learn more, visit Notre Dame Neighbours:NotreDameNeighboursStopTheStadium

Web site: www.notredameneighbours.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/ndneighbours/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ndneighbours

 

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