Did you notice them last night? The green lights in the tower windows of protesting residents seemed to shine more brightly under the rising moon, perhaps in anticipation of today. Below is a compilation of information in anticipation of that decision.
[Update at 1 pm: It looks like Concord Pacific won this round. See “Court sides with developer in battle over future False Creek park” by Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, 4-Mar-2015). Excerpt: The B.C. Supreme Court says the City of Vancouver did nothing wrong in allowing Concord Pacific to continue using a future park on False Creek for commercial purposes. In a ruling issued Wednesday, Justice Robert Sewell dismissed an application by the False Creek Residents Association to overturn the extension of temporary development permit the city gave to Concord Pacific while it completes adjacent developments. He also ruled against the FCRA’s application for a declaration that any use of the area, known as Sub-area 9, must conform to its zoning, which restricts uses to park and ancillary uses…]
The outcome of one of the numerous citizen-initiated court challenges against our municipal government is expected today, March 4, 2015. Justice Robert Sewell of the B.C. Supreme Court is expected to hand down his decision on the battle between the False Creek Residents’ Association (FCRA) and the City of Vancouver, with developer Concord Pacific also muscling into the process and even demanding costs be reimbursed if it wins.
This particular legal action is one important skirmish in a bigger battle by FCRA to get a park that was promised 25 years ago for this community. The action was launched on May 22, 2014, when FCRA applied for a “judicial review,” asking the court to rule on whether the City of Vancouver could continue to allow Concord Pacific to operate its commercial ventures on land zoned for exclusive park use. Representing FCRA is lawyer Bob Kasting.
After ten years of frustration and no results despite dealing in good faith with three consecutive mayors, three councils, and three directors of planning, FCRA felt compelled to take the plunge in 2014 and start this legal action. FCRA challenged the City’s decisions to continue to allow both the “temporary” development permits for Concord Pacific’s sales centre, and the on-going commercial activity on Lot 9 (the lot is actually designated as a park in the Official Development Plan for the area and in the BC Place/Expo District Zoning bylaw).
Perhaps core themes here are (1) developer-funded politicians giving favourable treatment to their funders (developers), giving them huge increases in urban density, while failing to provide commensurate improvements in parks and amenities for society, and (2) the government-enabled privatization of public space.
The “Green Light District” campaign was launched by the FCRA in mid-February 2014. Still ongoing, the campaign’s goal is to raise awareness of the fact that a 9-acre park that was promised to the residents over 25 years ago has still yet to be delivered. Residents are literally turning on ‘the green lights’ to send a message that they finally want to see a go ahead for their park.
Below are photos, a basic summary, and links to useful information and media coverage.
(We partially recycle some material from the CityHallWatch story of 4-April-2014: “Green light district – Residents wanting their park from Concord Pacific start awareness campaign.”)
The 9-acre property on False Creek was assessed at $1 last year. In fact, this story from April 1, 2014 is still CityHallWatch‘s all-time most-read story since we launched in 2010: “Concord land on False Creek assessed at $1: Joke or reality? (Answer: No joke!).” Instead of its intended use as a park, the land is used by Concord Pacific (which bills itself as “Canada’s largest community builder”) for its sales centre. A large portion of the site is rented out for events such as Cirque du Soleil or used as a giant parking lot. (This company has for decades received immensely favourable treatment from our politicians. For an analysis about the company, see our article “Concord Pacific: Corporate social responsibility, integrity and governance“).
DETAILS OF THE “JUDICIAL REVIEW”
Our Judicial Review Application before Justice Sewell Concludes (False Creek Residents Association, January 30, 2015)
Excerpt: The judicial review application is now concluded and we await a decision. The second, and final day before Mr. Justice Sewell in BC’s Supreme Court opened with Concord Pacific again taking the floor to announce that it would seek costs against the FCRA. Justice Sewell expressed his surprise, opining that costs were not commonly awarded in cases of judicial review. This was particularly apt in this instance as the FCRA application was brought against the City of Vancouver. Concord Pacific then budged its way into the proceedings on its own motion... Read more here.
The legal documents can be downloaded directly from the False Creek Residents Association website here:
- Petition to Court May 21, 2014,
- Affidavit filed May 21,
- 2014 Continuation of Affidavit
- Court decision on 3-Sept-2014, allowing “One West Holdings Ltd., also known as Concord, or more familiarly known as Concord Pacific to the residents of Vancouver” to be added to these proceedings as a party. Click here.
MEDIA COVERAGE (PARTIAL LIST)
- “Court dashes False Creek residents’ park dreams again” (by Bob Mackin, Vancouver Courier, 4-Mar-2015)
- “Court sides with developer in battle over future False Creek park” by Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, 4-Mar-2015)
- “Fight over False Creek land goes to court (updated) — Residents association wants Concord Pacific to get on with building promised park between Rogers Arena and Science World” (by Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun, 12-Dec-2014)
- “False Creek Residents Association battles Concord Pacific over commercial use of park-zoned land” (Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 3-Sept-2014)
- “False Creek residents challenge zoning ruling” (by Alexandra Posadzki, The Globe and Mail, 21-Aug-2014)
- “Councillor Geoff Meggs resurrects blog post criticized by False Creek residents” (by Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 12-June-2014)
- “False Creek Residents Association is second neighbourhood group to take city to court” (Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, 21-May-2014)
- “False Creek residents give Concord Pacific green light for stalled park” (by Matt Kieltyka, Vancouver Metro News, 10-Mar-2014)
- “Insights” about Marine Gardens rezoning (for Concord Pacific): P. McMillan comments on how special interest groups are manipulated for corporate interests (in this case, dragon boaters — and Concord Pacific is the main sponsor of the annual Dragon Boat Festival in Vancouver) (February 2015)
- “Lawsuits against the City” (November 2014)
- “Commercial parking continues at Concord’s Creekside site despite City ban. Large Signs violate bylaw.” (24-Aug-2014)
- “Concord temporary sales centre permit extended for 3 more years. Commercial parking to be discontinued”
- “Concord Pacific: Corporate social responsibility, integrity and governance” (9-June-2014)
- “Politicians biased for developers? FCRA asks Mayor Robertson to disqualify Councillor Geoff Meggs from Public Hearing on Concord Pacific rezoning in False Creek” (9-June-2014)
- “False Creek Residents Association publishes BC Supreme Court petition online, regarding park and Concord Pacific land” (May 22, 2014)
MORE ABOUT THE GREEN LIGHT CAMPAIGN
See a summary on the False Creek Residents Association website: “Greening the Creek”
A feature piece on Global TV, complete with video about the Green light district, is available at the following link: False Creek residents hope green light campaign puts pressure on city, developer to build long-promised park (Peter Meiszner, Feb 19, 2014)
CTV News has a photo gallery called Green lanterns light Vancouver skyline. The campaign is also covered in MetroNews: False Creek residents give Concord Pacific green light for stalled park (Matt Kieltyka, March 10, 2014) and in the WestEnder: False Creek residents give park the green light (Raman Kang, March 12, 2014).
Below are several more photos (from April 2014) that show the condition of the 9-acre parcel of land that should have been turned into a lovely urban park by now:
The plans for the park have been repeatedly put off. The City of Vancouver keeps moving the goalposts. The form of the park was last altered in 2011. Further details are in a previous post:
“Council passed in principle the recommendations in the Northeast False Creek Policy Report at the Planning and Environment meeting on October 6, 2011. This included the reconfiguration of Creekside Park (see illustration or Appendix B).”