Addicted to novelty since 2001

Province Poll on the Whitecaps Soccer Stadium

Just a quick note to point to an online poll being conducted by The Province about the proposed downtown soccer stadium. Canada.com’s site is astonishing in its ugliness and uselessness, but go to The Province’s home page, scroll down and find the poll at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar.

For a while I’ve been meaning to point to Richard Murray’s excellent editorial on the stadium. Like these guys, I’m a supporter of the project. That said, I’ve been eager to read a well-argued critique of the project. This is the best I could find. It’s got plenty of hyperbole, inaccuracies, speculation and few hard facts.

I look forward to when the Central Waterfront Coalition–the anti-stadium group–gets around to putting together a website.

19 Responses to “Province Poll on the Whitecaps Soccer Stadium”

  1. DaveO

    I gotta say that I am excited about the idea of a new stadium – both for summer concerts and (local and international) futball – though i have only seen one Whitecaps game in my life and that was about 1979.

    At first sniff it seems like a well-thought out proposal (“manufacturing” new land to build it, close to myriad transit options, great views and atmosphere) to make a new downtown entertainment destination.

    In the States, most all stadiums are built with public money and sweetheart financing and favorable tax deals, even if the voters don’t agree – whereas the Whitecaps aren’t seeking public funds, just approval to spend the money to build the economy while (I feel) protecting the charater and lifestyle of the area in an adeqaute manner.

    The problems of the downtown eastside are not going to be resolved or exacerbated by this stadium’s impact exclusively and, while i *do* care about the plight of the low-income, “at-risk” populations (really), it is short-sighted to think that resolution of their immediate needs (and protection of their rights) are adversely affected by this plan.

  2. darren

    I got ‘Central Waterfront Coalition’ from this CBC article. It could be that they changed their name, or that the CBC got it wrong. I’ll email them and ask.

  3. darren

    I believe I’ve got it figured out, thanks to some help in the Canucks newsgroup. Here’s the explanation I received of the players involved:

    “The Central Waterfront Coalition. This is an anti-stadium group that is actually independent, composed of neighbourhood residents who are concerned about the stadium and about the eventual development of the CN and port lands. The CWC believes that development of the stadium can’t be examined in isolation from the
    development of the remaining lands.
    The Gastown Residents Association: this is essentially a front group for the Gastown BIA — or at least a residents association that’s closely aligned with them.

    The Gastown BIA: opposed to the stadium. Using the GRA for its public positions. Have hired a PR firm to create an anti-stadium campaign.

    StadiumNOW: a bunch of disaffected BIA members, many of whom think that large property owners have too much influence in the BIA and the needs of retailers are being ignored. These guys are, in the main, tourist venue/food and beverage folks. The stadium could skew retail development in the neighbourhood towards their kind of
    business. They like that.”

  4. Johnnie Monster

    Hi there,

    If you want the dirt on all the key players behind the anti-stadium campaign, please visit forum.vancouversouthsiders.com

    There you will find a multitude of threads on how soccer fans have exposed the true nature of the NIMBY camp.

    Essentially it comes down to a few wealthy associates of Jon Stovell (Reliance Holdings development corp) who are working with the Reputations Corp PR firm.

    All these “groups” (Gastown Residents Assoc, Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition and Central Waterfront Coaltion) are actually ONE entity with multiple websites. Their plan is to falsify the appearance of broad support by manufacturing phantom supporters groups.

    Soccer fans proved this by following the online paper trail which showed the GNC & GRA websites were registered, designed and hosted by the same people on the SAME DAY **several months** before they formally announced themselves.

    When we started making noise about this, they quickly took steps to move one of the sites to a different hosting server, hoping to distance it from the other site before the press caught on.

    As for the online Province poll, the pro-stadium side was leading after 11 hours with 75% support. In the final hour, the numbers magically reversed to 75% for the no side. The Province immediately closed down the poll, and they are currently investigating who tampered with the results.

    Again, please visit forum.vancouversouthsiders.com – we crunched the numbers to figure out how many votes the NIMBYs needed to cast in the final hour of voting in order to turn the poll around. It’s really quite astonishing.

    A final point about the NIMBY camp.

    Note that there are absolutely NO businesses or residents identified on their websites as “stadium opponents.”

    Now look at stadiumnow.org – plenty of businesses have proudly come forward to SUPPORT the stadium! Big difference huh?

    Sure makes the anti-stadium camp look weak by comparison.

    The bottom line: we have a half dozen wealthy individuals who have their own plans in mind for that land… and they manipulated vulnerable people in that community into opposing the stadium via fearmongering and scare tactics.

    Shameless.

  5. harp

    the stadium simply HAS to go through for the good of the game. That, and a professional league…well, the MLS will do for now. It’s embarassing how the state of the game is here in Canada.

    It’ll go through, because it simply must, there’s no other alternative.

  6. Jon Stovell

    For facts, log on to the http://www.gastowncoalition.ca website (resources) and find the positions of the Gastown BIA (a 15 year old official BIA), The Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee (appointed by City Council), and the Vancouver Heritage Commission (appointed by City Council). These are all long standing neighbourhood or City wide groups that bear in mind the best interests of the area. Yes, the GNC, CWC, and GRA formed recently out of an urgent need to bring reason to the stadium discussions.

    Also, the City commissioned Technical report is the most in depth of all the commentary. See the same web site (policy and technical analysis).

  7. Steven Fast

    In response to the comments Johnnie Monster

    Your use of the word NIMBY is a little excessive and it suggests that business and land owners in the area have an opinion that isn’t valid. I wonder if you are even aware of the concerns of these people?

    I play soccer, coach soccer, watch soccer and fully support the construction of a new stadium in Vancouver. Personally, I don’t agree that this is the right location and certainly it should not elevated over the top of the existing railway lands.

    “Shameless”??
    How about somebody who doesn’t have a direct connection to the area and writes as if they do. Or worse yet, is affiliated with a PR firm. Of course, nobody knows for certain if you do. I’ve been conducting business in Gastown for over 16 years and have never met or heard of you, at least by your alias Mr. Monster. Perhaps a little less emotional rant and more facts next time… or perhaps some questions.

  8. Rob P.

    Shame on you Johnnie Moster. I wonder why you wish to have the stadium in Gastown since you hate the area so much. Let us not forget some of your comments on the southsider website about the residents of the DTES. Who can forget your song “I keep my close watch on these rocks of mine Cause the pawn shop is open all the time. I got a dozen panhandling fines, I commit crimes to snort the line” – written feb 4th, 2006: Southsiders website. If you want to point fingers let us not forget that the Vancouver Police were investigating you and many other southsiders for uttering threats against residents of the DTES.

  9. Johnnie Monster

    Yes, shame on me indeed.

    Shame on me for exposing Mr. Stovell and his cronies for what they are – opportunistic developers who are scrambling for a slice of the pie as this project moves forward.

    Shame on me for speaking on behalf of fellow Whitecaps fans who are sick of Stovell & Co.’s misinformation campaign which has been quite specifically devised to frighten Vancouverites with nonsense and exaggeration about the scope of the project.

    Shame on me for alerting the press to the fact that Mr. Stovell’s alleged “coalition” of mutiple community groups is actually one small faction of his wealthy business associates who have fabricated multiple websites for bogus community groups to falsify the appearance of broad support.

    Shame on me for pointing out the fact that neither the Gastown Neighbourhood Coalition nor the Gastown Residents Association have publicly identified a SINGLE resident or small business owner within their ranks who is not directly affiliated with their business interests or executive memebers.

    Shame on me for spreading the news that while Mr. Stovell claims to speak for the Gastown BIA, there are MANY small business owners coming forward to say “This guy does not speak for me, my family or my business.”

    Visit http://www.stadiumnow.org and you’ll see what I mean. Unlike Stovell’s bogus websites, there are real people going on the record in support of this project. Stovell may steer the helm of the BIA, but there’s clearly a mutiny on the Bounty.

    Shame on me for bringing to light the recent hijacking of a Province online poll on the stadium. After 11 hours of polling, the results were 75% for the YES side. In the final hour, it shifted to 75% NO.

    The result? The Province is investigating exactly who was repsonsible for tampering with the poll.

    In fact, they are so certain it was a co-ordinated screw job, the results were not published.

    Steven Fast: You are wrong on two points

    1. The only businesses and land owners speaking against this project are Mr. Stovell and his business associates Scott Hawthorn and Niels Bendtsen. That’s it. No other business or property owner outside of that little sewing circle has come forward publicly.

    2. Don’t get swindled by Stovell’s exaggerated nonsense about my alleged connections to a PR firm linked to the Caps. That’s a real desperate grasp at straws.

    I did a one-month freelance contract with the company in question over a year ago. I’ve been working for a pharmaceutical company ever since.

    Rob P: Police investigation? Don’t be suckered by this nonsense either. It never happened.

    If you’re familiar with the complainant, please ask him to send me a copy of the police report with an investigation file number, I’d love to see it.

    He won’t though… because like Stovell’s alleged “support”, it doesn’t exist.

  10. Steven Fast

    Mr. Monster
    You are skillful writer and you certainly have a flair for the dramatic.

    I propose we engage in an intellectual discussion. Instead of debating what i see as inflamatory remarks in our last two entries i would like to try to understand your point of view and perhaps you will be interested in mine.

    I’ll start.
    Are you aware of the height limitation imposed on property owners in Gastown? Do you see any value in those limitations?

    Respectfully,

    Steven Fast

  11. Jon Stovell

    Mr. Monster

    What about the Heritage Commission, Gastown Historic Area Planning Committee, Heritage Vancouver, Gastown Business Improvement Society, the technical report, Bing Thom, Arthur Erickson, and soon I expect City staff…….all in a massive conspiracy I guess. All of your points are attacks on the credibility of others. What about the concerns that are actually being raised?

  12. Rob P.

    John Knox… face it ….the stadium is in big trouble. No one is against soccer. What people are concerned about is the location of the stadium. It just does not fit where they plan to place it. They need to do one of two things: make the stadium much smaller or move the stadium. Think it is time to start looking for another location for the stadium.

  13. Jon Stovell

    From the staff report the came out today……

    OVERALL CONCLUSIONS OF THE INITIAL REVIEW
    The public consultation reveals that there is broad public support for the
    proposed stadium, yet significant concern and opposition particularly
    from local residents, community groups and businesses. This is
    consistent with the findings of the technical review, which revealed
    positive, neutral and negative impacts of the proposed stadium. More
    specifically, there are five fundamental issues with the current proposal
    that make it unworkable, including:
    • Inadequate street frontage for access, emergency exiting and crowd
    marshalling;
    • Dangerous goods in the rail lands;
    • Form, character and urban design issues;
    • Impacts on residential livability and area revitalization; and
    • Impacts on future development on the Central Waterfront Port Lands.
    There are a number of potential solutions to these fundamental issues
    which could make the proposed stadium work in the Central Waterfront.
    These include:
    • Major investment in road infrastructure, which will need to be provided
    by the proponent and will likely be costly due to the complexity of
    building roads and viaducts above the rail lands;
    • Resolution of the dangerous goods issue and liability;
    • Fundamental reconsideration of the stadium structure and siting to
    ensure a better fit with Gastown;
    • More land, which requires negotiations with the Port of Vancouver; and
    • Comprehensive planning to address access, area structure, land use and
    livability issues.
    Report Back on the Whitecaps Stadium Initial Review 21
    These solutions involve substantial cost, time or negotiations with other
    land owners and cannot be achieved through a stand-alone rezoning. As
    such, staff conclude that a rezoning is not supportable at this time.

  14. Johnnie Monster

    First of all I’d like to bring the following article to your attention from the Tyee… it’s written by an architect who has some very solid criticisms for Mr. Stovell’s arguments.

    http://thetyee.ca/Views/2006/05/31/Whitecaps/

    Secondly, if we want to talk about “inflammatory remarks” perhaps we should tlak about Mr. Stovell’s rather frequent and insensitive use of the “Berlin Wall” analogy…

    to liken the plight of wealthy Gastown property owners to East Germans struggling to survive a brutal communist regime is a bit dramatic and insulting, don’t you think?

    Or I could talk about how he went on CKNW and made the ridiculous accusation that the Whitecaps won’t be paying property taxes on the site.

    That’s an outright lie. When confrotned with this on a future radio broadcast, he refused to respond to it or apologize for misleading the public. Bravo, Reputations Corp, good coaching!

    Steven Fast:

    It would be unfair of me to debate you on the topic of the stadium’s height when I suspect you may very well have been misled by Mr. Stovell and his cronies with their ridiculously comical renderings of their grossly exaggerated interpretation of the design.

    Instead, I’ll encourage you to read the city’s analysis of the consulting reports.

    Highlights…

    EXHIBIT 16 of the report shows that the main roofing structure of the Landing building is generally 36m above sea level, with additional structures on the roof ranging from 36m to 40 m.

    EXHIBITS 16, 17 & 24 show that the east grandstand roof reaches 35m, and the west grandstand roof reaches 41m.

    Therefore, the maximum height differential between the two buildings will be in the neighbourhood of five metres.

    I’ll also draw your attention to a comparison of the outrageously BS photo Mr. Stovell is distributing depicting a 70m high stadium looming over the foot of Cambie Street.

    Now look at EXHIBIT 14B of the city’s report – a photo at the same site.

    Major difference, isn’t it?

    Better yet, that pic was generated by **city staff**, not the Whitecaps. Can’t accuse anyone of pushing a PR agenda there.

    Mr. Stovell:

    The only person’s whose credibility is under attack is yours, and I will gladly point out your shenanigans each and every step of the way. I see you have yet to respond to any of the credibility issues raised here:

    Poll tampering?

    Personal business interests?

    Bogus organizatons & websites?

    Abysmal lack of “on the record” supporters other than yourself and your business partners?

    Clear pro-stadium support from within your own BIA membership?

    It’s abundantly clear that while you may head up the BIA, you are not in a position to speak for the membership on this issue.

    As for grossly misinterpreting the overall nature of the city report, I will refer you to today’s newspaper articles which clearly agree that this report actually suggests that the stadium will move forward once some adjustments are made to what was clearly a basic, early stages concept – not a building plan that was etched in stone.

  15. Jon Stovell

    Mr. Monster

    Not sure that a 3 line newspaper articles are going to add anyting to my understanding of a 40 page report that I have read a few times. I did like what Peter Ladner said in the Provice though – something about major problems with the scheme.

    BTW Not sure what you our on about with GNC membership. Suggest that you look at http://www.gastowncoalition.ca under membership.

    The BIA position came out of three community meetings and a formal vote of the elected board of directors.

    Pole Tampering…well I know I voted once, is that what you mean?

  16. Stephanie Smith

    “Johnnie Monster” is incorrect. The Central Waterfront Coalition was formed independently and is not affiliated with the GRA, the Gastown BIA, etc. I know this because I was a party to the initial stages of the organization.

    His comments about Stovell and company “manipulating” the rest of the community into opposing the stadium is also incorrect. We began organizing against the stadium in October 2005, well before Mr. Stovell or the Gastown BIA had said a word on the matter. And if he understood anything at all about the neighbourhood he’d know how laughable an idea it is that Gastown businesses have any pull whatsoever with low-income residents of the community. See the following community announcement for verification:

    https://lists.resist.ca/pipermail/van-announce/2005-October/002477.html

    Unfortunately, it’s typical of JM to believe that “vulnerable” (read: low-income) residents of the area are too stupid to organize independently. As a general rule the Southsiders have acted like jackasses throughout this debate and referred to low-income members of the community in the most derogatory fashion possible.

    They also libelled me — essentially accusing me of subsidy fraud because I live in a Gastown housing co-operative and they don’t know enough about co-ops to know that they’re mixed income and some members — like me — pay market rents.

    Anyhow. See everyone at city council on the 27th.

  17. Steven Fast

    Mr. Monster

    There you go on that dramatic soap box theme again. Your writing is very dramatic, are you sure your not a PR guy?

    Also, i still don’t know who Johnny Monster is and why he cares what is going on in Gastown. Regardless, back to the point.

    I asked you two straight forward questions. You have not answered either of them. Do you think the questions I asked are unfair or irrelevant or is it that you don’t know.

    Here’s a third question. Does any building in Gastown reach those heights?

    Do you have any questions you would like to ask me?

  18. nancy zimmerman

    OK: here’s one person not affiliated remotely with the parties above, who resides in gastown. On Record: I am opposed to the stadium. Nancy Zimmerman.

    Why?
    I am crazy in love with this nutty neighbourhood of mine. I hope over time it becomes an utterly unique mix of people – some of us doing well, some, not so much, who not only learn to live together, but who cradle an area of Canada that will always be here. Lots of room for creativity and care.

    A stadium? Simply not part of the mix.
    Not architecturally, not financially, not in character.

    Had I, or god knows who, even realized the land was up for graps, there could have been a fighting chance for other ideas of development that would be a lot more in keeping with the neighbourhood.

    Whatever you think of my idealistic (?)comments, one thing is now on record:
    a resident entirely unconnected to the above mentioned parties, is taking a public stance against the stadium.

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