It would be nice if the unanimous Council vote on July 11 meant that the stadium issue was solved and we could all look forward to bringing our families to a Whitecaps game in Gastown in a few years.
However, it's not that simple.
What Council decided to do on Tuesday was to make the Whitecaps Stadium a City priority and to give the Whitecaps a chance to address the key requirements laid out in the City Hall staff report to make the site work. These are:
• Provision of an adequate street network;
• Resolution of risks and liability associated with dangerous goods in the rail lands;
• Reconfiguration of the stadium structure to ensure a better ‘fit’ with Gastown;
• Resolution of impacts on the livability of residential areas south of the rail lands and impacts on future Port Lands development
Although we still could be up to 2 years away from the start of construction, the decision is a huge endorsement of the stadium by City Hall. The massive support for the stadium shown by the Citizens of Vancouver was a major factor in getting the unanimous vote.
But there's still going to be at least another public process, and possibly more. So, we're not done yet. We still need your help.
One thing we learned from this public process is that your letters, e-mails and phone calls to council are extremely powerful. Councillors don't often hear from people who aren't regularly involved in politics, so when thousands of ordinary citizens take the time to contact them on an issue, they pay close attention. We'll need more of these in the near future.
One thing we knew all long is that we should never engage in the negativity or misinformation tactics used by some (but not all) of our stadium opponents. Throughout the process, those of you who wrote and spoke to Council countered these arguments with calm, rational responses backed by facts. I've always believed that it's this type of conduct that carries the day, and it was rewarded on Tuesday when Council were unanimous in backing the stadium.
The City's work on the stadium will continue within the framework of a larger Waterfront Hub study. That means you don't only have a say on the stadium, but you can also contribute the type of downtown waterfront we would all like to have. It's also good opportunity to build more bridges with our Gastown neighbours, including those who were in opposition to the stadium. No doubt, there will be some who are implacable and will try to put up obstacles along the way. But we need to see beyond this to the bigger picture, where the stadium will become a prized community asset and a revitalized Gastown will become a point of pride for our great city. I urge you to take that next step today by visiting and supporting Gastown.
Yours in Sport,
Friends of Soccer