Thursday, February 01, 2007

Council Votes Unanimously to Move Revised Stadium Site Forward!

Once again, Vancouver City Council has voted unanimously to proceed with the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. After listening to 15 speakers, which included presentations from the Whitecaps, Friends of Soccer and Stadium Now!, Council made the decision to adapt the latest City Staff report and to begin a new round of public consultation. If all goes well, the city could send the stadium project to a formal rezoning process by June, and construction could be completed in time for the 2010 Olympics.

During the council session, the handful of stadium opponents mostly rehashed issues that were addressed in the previous hearings. However, City Council raised concerns about the effects the revised waterfront stadium site would have on the Seabus Terminal, as well as the need for the Whitecaps and the Port to reach agreement with federal government agencies. These are among the issues that will be addressed in the upcoming Open Houses and Public Hearings.

As the stadium moves a step closer, your support becomes even more important. Council mentioned more than once the broad public support the stadium project has received, and it's because the Citizens of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland have stepped up to the plate to let them know. To find out more on how you can support the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium, visit

Friends of Soccer's Presentation to City Council

Here are the remarks made to Council on behalf of Friends of Soccer on February 1.

Good afternoon,

I'm Bill Currie and I'm here on behalf of the thousands of Citizens who support the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium and let you know through the Friends of Soccer movement.

I'd like to begin by thanking City Staff, Councill and the Whitecaps for working so hard to bring the stadium proposal to this stage. It goes to show what can happen when we focus on what's possible and not on what's negative or difficult.

I want to help alleviate the concerns mentioned by one of the previous speakers on the fairness of the process and the applicant providing the funds. As we all know the Whitecaps were required to pay for the previous round of public hearings run by the City. And the City Staff report that came of it shows that the Whitecaps truly listened and consulted with the community to find solutions. There were concerns about how the stadium would fit with Gastown...the Whitecaps listened and moved it farther away. There were concerns about the stadium being built over railroad tracks...the Whitecaps listened and now it's on the Waterfront. Council instructed the Whitecaps to reach a deal with The Port of Vancouver. They've been successful in working with the Port as well as their neighbours. Throughout the process, the Whitecaps have been open and willing to listen to anyone with concerns. And they've told us that will continue.

We're also gratified to see that the report states that there is no further need to search for alternate sites. This is already the 5th site considered by the Whitecaps, and we believe it is by far the best. Besides the iconic views, which has been mentioned several times, it's unprecedented access to every mode of public transit makes it one of the most environmentally friendly stadiums in the world.

In the last round of public consultation, the Citizens of Vancouver gave you a definitive mandate to move ahead with the waterfront stadium project without any further delays. And that still holds today. Every public consultation City Hall has done on the issue shows overwhelming support among citizens. You already know that there are scores of community groups and sports organizations that want to see this happen. Downtown and Chinatown BIA's support the project. Tourism Vancouver, the Vancouver Board of Trade....the list goes on and on and on.

This process began because 4 years ago the mayor at the time identified the need for a mid-sized stadium to host soccer, rugby and community events. We needed it then...and we still need one now regardless of what happens to our other downtown venue. In the 4 years we've talked about this, Soccer Specific Stadiums have been planned, zoned, and constructed in Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, Charleston, Rochester, Atlanta, Dallas, Washington and Toronto. They are in the planning stages in at least 3 other North American cities, including Montreal. So, every day we go without one is a lost opportunity for our sports, but more importantly our city.

Just on the soccer front, In the last three years alone Vancouver has missed out on North American tours by Manchester United, Celtic, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In 2005, we had to travel to Seattle to watch Canada's "home" games in the CONCACAF Gold Cup (North America's equivalent to the European Championships). This July, Swangard will only be able to host preliminary games of the U-20 World Cup. Not the Semi-Final or the Final. The Rugby and Tennis community can also tell you of the international events they would like to hold if they had a proper stadium. Any one of these events puts Vancouver on a global stage comparable to the Winter Olympics.

Fortunately, there are even bigger opportunities on the horizon. That's why we need to stay focussed on having the stadium built in time for 2010. Beyond the Olympics, a new stadium will open the door for the Whitecaps to join Major League Soccer if that's the road they want to choose. On an even larger scale, the new stadium will strengthen Canada's bid for the 2011 Women's World Cup and no place would be more appropriate to hold the final than Vancouver.

So let's keep moving forward. Let's continue to work together to find solutions and solve issues. Thank you.