Kick for Touch
After four long sessions in city council chamber, hearing the boosters and the opponents of the proposed Whitecaps soccer stadium on the downtown waterfront, Vancouver Council decided to kick the ball down the field, so to speak.
The unanimous decision to, well, to make a decision later could be viewed by both sides as a victory of sorts.
But just because the Whitecaps made it through the preliminaries is no guarantee that they’ll make it to the finals – just ask Portuguese soccer team how that works.
There are significant – and perhaps overwhelming – issues facing the stadium proposal. Although Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot owns the six acre parcel, the site cannot be re-zoned from industrial use without an exhaustive 24 month process.
And that is the least of the challenges facing the project.
Others include site access for fans, the need to acquire additional property from the Vancouver Port Authority and requirements to ensure safety with the proposed above the tracks location.
Raymond Louie moved that the City work with the Whitecaps to examine other sites, including False Creek Flats or BC Place.
Of course, the big hitch for those locations is that the Whitecaps don’t actually own them.
Larry Beasely, the land-use guru at City Hall, indicated that he felt the stadium would need to move further north if it was going to fit into the downtown waterfront landscape.
Of course, with all these strikes against them, it would be easy to count the ‘Caps out.
That would be very foolish.
If anything, these guys have proven that they can fight the good fight. They have, after all, kept professional soccer alive in hockey-obsessed Vancouver since the previous heyday of the sport.
And in the nine months since the project was first brought before the City, the Whitecaps have developed strong community support for the concept. In a wonderful kismet way, all the attention on the World Cup in the lead up to the Council meetings only helped their cause.
On the surface of it, they have a great project. Who wouldn’t want to see a beautiful, open-air stadium right at the waterfront, close to transit and all those new downtown residents?
Think “Bard on the Beach” for the sporty set.
But it will be in the devilish details that the project will fail or succeed.
The city staff report states that the concept needs to be re-visited in “some fundamental ways” if it is going to work at all.
These include dealing with inadequate street frontage and road infrastructure which may require more financial resources than the Whitecaps are willing to front.
Round one may be over for the Whitecaps but the fight for the waterfront is just getting started.
As seen today in 24 hours