Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Unanimous Decision! Thank You!

The unanimous decision of Council on Tuesday, July 11 came through the efforts of literally thousands of people. There are a lot of people to thank, and I hope you'll join me in thanking some of them.

First off, Mayor Sullivan and every member of City Council deserves our thanks. Being a Councillor is often a thankless job. Some of them faced intense pressure from our opponents, and have their own personal doubts about the stadium. But when it came time to make a decision, they showed courage and leadership and did what was right for Vancouver. I'm sure they would appreciate your thanks and support as well. Please take a moment to write to them at .

Councillors Suzanne Anton and Peter Ladner deserve special thanks. They have been champions for the stadium from day one, and they worked hard to convince council that it was important and that it can be done! They are outstanding public servants who are truly in touch with the Citizens of Vancouver. Please give them your thanks and support.

The thousands of you who wrote or phoned City Council or signed the "Build the Stadium Now!" banner truly made the difference. 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. There is no "Friends of Soccer" movement without you. Thank you...and don't go away! We'll need you again soon!

A special thank you to those of you who spoke at council in favour of the stadium. Public speaking isn't easy, and many of you faced tough questioning after your presentations. My real job prevented me from being at Council every night. But my wife, Monique, was there for me and she was always struck by how the positivity and eloquence of your arguments stood head and shoulders above the rash judgements and fear-mongering by some of our opponents. You were all superb, and you gave a human face to the overwhelming support.

Thank you to the numerous Community groups and business organizations that openly supported and spoke in favour of the stadium. Despite Councillor Louie's claims that speakers in the Council chambers were divided 50-50, we were all in fact asked by City Hall (through the Whitecaps) to limit our speakers to representatives from our groups. Many of these organizations alone could have brought out hundreds of speakers, but we respected Council's request and the several groups that spoke in favour of the stadium actually represented thousands of people. From our opponents, all but 3 of their speakers were members of the same group. Even today, our opponents still number a few dozen...not the overwhelming majority that the stadium support enjoys.

Thank you to John Knox, whose work exposed the financing and true intentions behind the anti-stadium campaign. Without your help, we would not have known that we had to defeat a high-priced, well connected PR firm...but we did.

Thank you to John Kostiuk, founder of Gastown's Stadium Now! group and the growing number of businesses and residents who have risen above the unacceptable bullying and intimidation tactics from our opponents. We share your vision of a lively, vibrant, revitalized Gastown and we're ready to support you every step of the way!

Most important personally, I'd like to thank my wife, Monique, for her love, support, tolerance, understanding, and ultimately, great gusto for the cause. When she decided to jump in with me, it was with both feet and she really made a huge impact in the run-up to the council meetings. She inspires and drives me daily, and I certainly could not undertaken this movement without her blessing.

One cannot thank the Whitecaps organization enough. Their vision for what soccer can be in this city and country is remarkable, and they have never lost sight of how they can be a positive influence on the community along the way. John Rocha, Bob Lennarduzzi and Rachel Lewis have always been open to to our ideas, and they're willing to listen to anyone in the community who has issues and concerns. They're the type of neighbour everyone should hope for.

Finally, and most important to us all, friends of our city and our sport owe Mr. Kerfoot our enormous gratitude. I have never spoken with him, nor does he say much publicly. But you can always tell a man's true intentions through his actions. Through the fields of SFU and the National Training Centre in Surrey, and his generous gift to the Women's National Soccer team, Mr. Kerfoot has made it clear through his actions that his selfless commitment to soccer is for the right reasons. His commitment to overcome any hurdle to create an inclusive community asset in our city also speaks volumes about the man.

Thank you, sir.

Bill Currie
Friends of Soccer

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