Residents in the North East False Creek neighbourhood in downtown Vancouver are hoping green lights in their windows will get the attention of the city and a developer over a long-promised urban park.
The False Creek Residents Association says the park was promised 24 years ago at Pacific Boulevard and Quebec Street, but the site is still a large paved parking lot. The lot is also used as the home of Concord Pacific’s presentation centre and is rented out for various events such as Cirque du Soleil. Concord Pacific is one of the largest condo developers in North America and is responsible for developing the Yaletown neighbourhood as Vancouverites know it today.
The land for the proposed park, measures nine acres and is currently assessed at $1 by the BC Assessment Authority. It was previously assessed at $400,000 – but an appeal by the neighbourhood association last year “backfired” and the assessed value dropped $399,999 to just $1.
Andrea MacKenzie of the residents association says that all strata councils in the area have given approval for the “green lights” to be sold in their lobbies for $5.
The lights are being placed in resident’s windows, overlooking the long-promised park. She says they are hoping to send a message to the City and Concord Pacific that the park needs to be constructed now, before any additional development starts.
“We can’t seem to get City Hall to push the developer to create the park. This sends a strong, silent message, day-in-and-day-out,” says MacKenzie.
She says they have already sold 100 bulbs and plan to work their way with additional buildings towards the International Village.
MacKenzie says the park was promised back in 1990 in exchange for the approval of 7,800 units of condo housing. The association says that over 10,000 units have now been built and 1,318 more are on the way. 24 years later, there’s still no park.
She says the neighbourhood — between BC Place and Science World — is in desperate need of green space, as it’s surrounded by busy streets, Skytrain and acres of paved concrete.
“We have young families here that want to stay in the city, let’s give them a park, let’s give the elderly a park, instead of pushing them out to South Surrey or Langley. The strata councils in the area have been 100 per cent behind us, as well as the business owners on Main Street,” says MacKenzie.
Councillor Geoff Meggs says the park is tied up in the overall planning of the northeast False Creek area, and the removal of the viaducts.
“I am glad they are keeping a spotlight on it. The decision to tear down the viaducts, which has been made in principle, has to be confirmed by some of these further negotiations.”
Meggs says the park may end up being bigger and better than previously proposed.
“That would make the park bigger and possible to deliver faster. We are doing everything we can to expedite the earliest possible delivery of a larger park, of about 12-13 acres. If the new alignment is approved, the waterfront area will be 50 per cent larger, and the overall park area will be 10 to 15 per cent larger.”
Meggs says it could happen within the next four to five years if all goes well.