Plans for real grass at FIFA Women’s World Cup were turfed until after the election. Will any action be taken now?

womens soccer (football)Councillor Adriane Carr introduced a motion on notice to “provide real grass and not artificial turf surfaces for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup” at a Regular Council meeting on October 28, 2014. It’s worth revisiting how this motion was dealt with by Council, and to see if any part of the motion will be examined in early 2015. This motion in many ways is a case study on how the Council majority can circumvent a proper discussion on a topic brought forward for debate.

A total of seven games of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament will be played in Vancouver, including the final World Cup game. A Men’s World Cup would only be played on real grass. Grass surfaces are simply the best playing fields for soccer. Players have fewer injuries, and providing a grass surface would be a clear signal to Vancouver’s commitment to equality in sport. Should the FIFA Women’s World Cup be played on artificial turf instead in Vancouver?

There were 10 speakers who had registered prior to October 28th. The usual procedure at a Regular Council meeting would be to make a motion to hear from speakers at the subsequent committee meeting (in this case, scheduled for October 29th). However, what happened in the end is that none of the speakers were heard. Councillor Andrea Reimer amended Carr’s motion with a strike and replace motion. This amendment was supported by the Vision Vancouver majority and opposed by NPA and Green Councillors. The original motion was stripped of its original intent, as the updated motion simply had the matter “referred to staff for more information.” Council never heard any of the expertise that would have been brought to the debate by the registered speakers.

The only question that remains is whether this motion was referred to staff to die? Will staff ever report back? Will the speakers be given a chance to be heard on the topic?Soccer game

The following articles in MetroNews provide more coverage on the FIFA grass surface motion:

Lawyer rebuffs Vancouver councillor in FIFA Women’s World Cup turf war (Updated: Nov 2, 2014, Emily Jackson)

Council delays decision on real grass for FIFA Women’s World Cup in Vancouver (Oct 28, 2014, Emily Jackson)

The original motion called for the province and PAVCO to lay down grass for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup games that are being held at PC Place. Only in the event that this would not be funded, it was requested that the City make the funds (estimated at $250,000) available from the “emerging priorities” in the Capital Budget.

The following amendment was recorded in the minutes of the meeting:REFERRAL MOVED by Councillor Carr SECONDED by Councillor Ball

THAT the motion be referred to the Standing Committee on Planning, Transportation and Environment meeting on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, in order to hear from speakers.

amended

AMENDMENT TO THE REFERRAL MOVED by Councillor Reimer SECONDED by Councillor Deal

THAT the referral motion be struck and replaced with the following:
THAT the motion be referred to staff for more information on the cost implications of installing grass playing fields for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, prior to hearing from speakers.

CARRIED (Councillors Affleck, Ball and Carr opposed)

It’s worth noting that such a referral motion could still have been made by the Vision majority a day later, after all of the speakers had been heard (speakers with expertise in the area).

Robson park flags soccer field

The original motion read as follows:

MOTION ON NOTICE
1. Vancouver to Provide Real Grass Not Artificial Turf for 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup

MOVER: Councillor Carr SECONDER: Councillor Ball

WHEREAS

  1. Vancouver is hosting six games plus the final match for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a soccer tournament projected to be the world’s largest ever women’s sporting event;
  2. The games are scheduled for BC Place Stadium, which has artificial turf, but men’s premier leagues refuse to play on artificial turf because it is an inferior surface that poses greater risk of player injury and increased concussions;
  3. The laws of Canada prohibit gender discrimination in the contexts of employment and public facilities and our Vancouver Park Board has been a leader on equal access for women in our recreational system;
  4. No men’s World Cup tournament has ever been played on anything other than grass and, when men’s premier teams demand that grass is put down on the field, their demands are met, including when Manchester City refused to play in Vancouver unless the game was played on grass;
  5. Eighteen elite women soccer players from eleven different countries, including Brazil’s five-time World Player of the Year Marta and Abby Wamback of the USA and Nadine Angerer of Germany (the 2013 and 2014 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year), filed a lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) in the Human Rights Tribunal Court of Ontario that the use of artificial turf in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is gender discrimination as it “devalues the players’ dignity, state of mind and self-respect by requiring them to play on a second-class surface”;
  6. Although the decision to play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf was made by FIFA and the CSA, the negative press will damage the reputation of Vancouver as a world class sporting event host city.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

A. THAT the City of Vancouver inform FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) that we intend to provide a grass field for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup games played in Vancouver and we urge FIFA and the CSA to require grass fields for the entire 2015 tournament.

B. THAT the City of Vancouver press the BC Government and PavCo (BC Pavilion Corporation), the owners of BC Place, to lay down grass for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup games being held at BC Place at their expense.

C. THAT, in the event that PavCo (BC Pavilion Corporation) will not provide the funds needed to lay down grass for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup that the City of Vancouver offer the funds (estimated at $250,000), from our Capital Budget “emerging priorities”, and investigate whether the grass can be re-used after the tournament for Vancouver fields in need of new grass.

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