Thursday, September 20, 2007

Stadium Delays Cost Vancouver Taxpayers $5 million

City to Close David Lam Park & use Downtown Parking Lot for Olympic Plazas


Delays in approving the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium will cost municipal taxpayers $5 million as city staff and 2010 organizers were forced to develop temporary plazas for the "Olympic Live" public sites during the Winter Games. The free public plazas, which will feature giant television screens, sponsor tents and live concerts, will be located on a parking lot on Beatty St. and in Yaletown's David Lam Park. The $23 million facilities will have a capacity of 10,000 and 13,000 respectively, and both will be dismantled following the 2010 games.

VANOC had earlier expressed an interest in holding the public cultural components of the Winter Games in the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium, and reinforced that view to City Council as late as May, 2006. A completed Whitecaps Stadium could have provided greater capacity, substantial reductions in infrastructure and security costs, and would have provided a permanent legacy for the games. Friends of Soccer pro-stadium activist Bill Currie blasted City Council for the delays at Thursday's Planning and Environment meeting.

"If there was ever a red flag that we need permanent gathering places downtown, this is it. A fantastic gathering place was offered to both the City and VANOC as early as 2004 in the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium," he told councillors . "It was a gift to the city, in a beautiful spot where Vancouver began. Despite overwhelming support, 4 rounds of public consultation, and 2 unanimous votes from this Council, it hasn't proceeded far enough or fast enough. We're paying the price for this now."

Although Currie made it clear he fully supports the free public Olympic Sites, he expressed concern for residents and local soccer over the closing of David Lam Park.

"It's also sad for our citizens and local residents that the city will have to cut off the seawall and decommission a public park and popular sports field for what will likely be several months. And while I support this project, I can honestly say that the soccer community will not like that one bit."

"It appears the time for 2010 is too late. So, along with the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the dozens of sporting events, cultural events and festivals that could have been held by now, we'll chalk this up as another lost opportunity. But, what makes this lost opportunity different is that it's going to cost the taxpayers of Vancouver $5 million dollars. I believe this could have been avoided."

Councillors present provided no questions nor rebuttal.

Friends of Soccer is a grassroots movement that supports soccer projects as well as the Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. Bill Currie and the Friends of Soccer ( urge all citizens of Vancouver to continue to write, phone and visit City Hall to make their voices heard.

No comments: