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Can Vancouver model work in an entertainment zone? The question

November 11th, 2009 · 19 Comments

Readers of this blog have been following the debates about the new community to be created at Northeast False Creek for a while. Most MSM haven’t been paying much attention to it yet, likely because it’s just drawings on paper so far.

But it’s going to get more public attention in the future, I guarantee. This is an area as big as Coal Harbour, a future home to possibly 7,000 people, and right in the middle of the city. What happens here — or doesn’t — will have impacts beyond the immediate neighbourhood.

Here’s my first crack at it in the Globe — 700 words is nowhere near enough to cover all the issues (more like stuffing an octopus into a thimble, I like to say), but it hits the highlights. As I’ve said in previous posts, you can read the full reports on the city’s website (they have a whole section dedicated to NEFC).

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  • Even Richard cannot mitigate the “noise issue” of an “entertainment zone” around the “fungi blooms”. I have enjoyed stadia rock concerts sitting in Vanier park: ¡verdad!

    I joke but, of course, I do not joke. BC Place noise pervades the city: I’m surprised there has not been an up roar!

    I proposed a
    “buffer” NEFC design earlier this year: but, predictalby, I am shat upon by troglodytes every time I open my mouth, they being very “new idea” averse!

    The concept, however, does requires single loaded corridors that are anathema to the local immediate, cash-out-and-run housing ethos . . .

    St Lawrence Centre, Toronto applied the same principle for a residential form to “noise shadow” the huge CPR rail yards to the south.

    Hasn’t there been talk of prospective residents signing onto a “noise acceptance agreement” too? Ridiculous as it very is, the proposal has been bandied around . . .

    Only in the “world’s greatest” city eh!

    Buffer buildings, as such, are not new! Swedish/Yorkshire man architect Ralph Erskine was first, with his Byker, Newcastle, UK, residential community.

    He conceived six stories of lineal wrap around to protect in the inner village from a noisy freeway on the northern perimeter.

    Mucho suerte . . .

  • PS . . . and a new retractible stadium roof is a misappropriation of funds in this unaffordable housing climate . . . .

    Good grief, they will be lucky to afford toilet paper at “Thu Hall” (Parliament Blgs, too) by the time this Olympic fiasco shakes out . . .

  • Joe Just Joe

    Having seen Richards plan for the area I can say without doubt that it would work and work successfully. The plan is much better then the original proposal for the area.
    The noise dare I say won’t even be as bad as a typical summer evening in Yaletown with allt he patio full and we know that people successful live there. Sure it’s not for everyone, but for some to suggest it would be slum, well we’ll have to disagree.

  • grounded

    This may sound simplistic but if people understand BEFORE they sign a purchase or lease agreement that they will be living in an “entertainment zone” what really is the problem? Clearly there needs to be mixed-use but that seems to be standard practice in the city now. As for it being a mixed neighbourhood demographically, does anyone have data on the age profiles of those who bought condos between Stadium-Chinatown Station and Tinseltown. What about the Spectrum development? Those occupants would presumably be dealing with the same degree or greater of noise as units along Pacific. Does anyone know if there a significantly higher proportion of singles living in those units relative to other condo developments downtown? Is it common practice for the city to do post-occupancy studies on all new developments?

  • Colin

    Living in the area already (The Spectrum), I can attest that noise from the stadium and arena is not even of remote concern. The daily noise from traffic, sirens, the sky train, etc. are all much more prominent, and are just a part of living downtown. The events are actually exciting times as the streets in the area fill with people. The local residents complaining all seem to be at Citygate. Perhaps they feel they are owed some grand Creekside Park on their doorstep that has been shown on plans for years, but the linear design makes much more sense from an urban design standpoint and still creates the same area of greenspace as the original. The new design also better connects Citygate and the false creek flats to downtown with living, working and office spaces in new buildings making the walk much more lively and enjoyable.

  • Innervatonal_Resident

    How come cities across the world are using stadiums as catalysts for infill development and urban revitalisation, yet we cannot fathom the fact that people (not just singles) are attracted to live in cities to be around exciting event venues and other attractors… we are truly in love with the idea of being the “no fun city”.

    I attended 2 NEFC open houses held by the City and watched some of the council meeting and I was blown away at the Henreiquez Plan (has Concord used him before?). It was simply fantastic… I would love to see what would come of that through a rezoning… it is so fresh and could make the whole end of False Creek an apmitheatre of connected park space. How is the old “bumps, mounds and berms park” better? How is a wall of towers better at the location vs some towers alone the viaduct? How is disconnecting east vs west with a square park at the viaducts better? What planner would suggest that the old plan is better than the Henrequez plan? Speak up yeee!!!

    4 towers at Spectrum add to that the Espana project and you have thousands of residents already living within earshot and they

    What an oppouruntiy in NEFC…. as a resident in the area I say bring it on,

  • Patsy McMillan

    I would like to say that I did not say that this area would become a slum. I was asked if I thought it might or could. That is not what concerns the communities that border this endeavor. What concerns us is that there are not sufficient amenities and services for the increased density and that the noise issue emanating from the stadium would preclude designing and marketing family housing for this area. Which, in turn, would market to a single demographic and we all know what happened in Yaletown. Singles got together, had children and decided to stay. Which is great except the school can’t handle the amount of children trying to register and families are having to drive their kids to schools outside of their neighbourhood so the Live, Work, Plan philosophy is not working in Yelltown. Daycares are overcrowded, after school care is almost non-existent, the community centres are overwhelmed and overscubscribed, there is nowhere for kids to play soccer unless they are on a rep team or a prov. team that is able to book one of the fieldparks a year in advance, and all the while Concord Pacific is making millions off the commercial use of the future Creekside Park site. Which, by the way, along with Concord’s remaining 6C property( 12.5 acreas in total) is assessed for tax purposes at a measly $192,000.00 Taxes paid on this last large piece of waterfront property last year was under $4,400.00. Doesn’t seem quite fair does it when mucho dollars are being made off that land. Also, the park board, if you have been following this drama, voted unanimously not to support the re-shaping of the park because even though there may be a promise of an earlier delivery with this new plan there is no timeline nor sunset clause on the delivery of the park no matter what shape it is. Condo towers along Pacific Blvd from Carrall St. to Quebec St. will put even more money in the developer’s pocket as well as void the Mt. Seymour view corridor for all those folks who cherish the water to mountain views from the south side of False Creek.
    Density without amenities is a lose-lose for the city. What we need is a landmark park as a gateway to the city from the east. Thank God the Three Greenhorns didn’t think like this or we would have condos instead of Stanley Park.
    I will probably never use Creekside Park as it will most likely not be built in my lifetime but I find it disturbing that so few people care about this last possible site for a grand waterfront park instead of a strip mall.

  • Joe Just Joe

    Creekside park in my opinion will never be a grand waterfront park regardless of shape. There is nothing there to attract people, save the dragon boat races a few times a year. If one day the creek could be cleaned up enough to allow a beach to be built there then we could have a grand park, but even then the reshaped design would be better suited for that.

    Don’t forget to mention that the Firenze site where the new daycare has just been built also has space reserved for a new elementary school, the fact that VSB hasn’t built it yet is not the developers fault, they did provide the land for it. It’s up to the governments to fund the school though. The new community centre in SEFC should help the residents of Citygate in the very near future as well. I can’t think of too many areas in the city that are as well served by amenties within walking distance as that area, hence why the large demand of people wanting to live there.

  • gmgw

    I can only assume that people like Colin and Innervatonal (sic) are severely hearing-impaired. When U2 played at BC Place recently we could clearly hear the bass in our living room, the better part of a mile away. We honestly thought that one of our neighbours had his stereo cranked up. It’s been the same almost every time BC Place has been used for a major concert. We went for a walk along the south side seawall during the AC/DC concert and the noise level near the Cambie Bridge was phenomenal. If a car stereo was playing that loud outside our building the police would be called. I shudder to think what the noise levels will be like once the retractable roof is in place. This sort of thing is great if you’re in your 20s but for us old codgers, it’s a major pain in the ass (ear?) to have someone else’s lousy taste in music shoved down our throats.

    This is why a restrictive covenant is being placed on sales of newly-built condos being sold near the revamped BC Place. Effectively it’s meant to prevent any residents of those buildings from taking any kind of legal action due to noise levels from the stadium. If you don’t sign the paper, you won’t get to buy the condo. Get ready for a big twentysomething party zone, on a huge scale.

    By the way, can we please, once and for all, knock off the whining about “no fun city”? You make your own fun, folks. As it happens, there are some things I’d love to do out in public that I would find to be great fun. Unfortunately, I’d probably be arrested if I put them into action. “Fun” is a relative concept. If your fun impacts on my right to peace and quiet, the gloves come off at that point, as far as I’m concerend. Whatever happened to individual responsibility?

  • I have trouble with Colin’s vigorous assertion, “I can attest that noise from the stadium and arena is not even of remote concern.”

    And, “The local residents complaining all seem to be at City Gate.”

    There can be only three conclusions to his ridiculous remark:

    i. He is an employee of Spectrum, the planning dept or some such vested organization, and is not free to express his true feelings.

    ii. His residence is on the leeward side: i.e. oriented away from the noise source.

    iii. He is seriously hearing impaired.

    I have enjoyed concerts sitting in Vanier Park, and there isn’t even a clear site/sound line to the stadium.

    Quite often I have wondered. Are some posts planted to divert and diffuse . . . some are so completely rational, balanced and middle-grounded, I ask myself do the post-istas have an agenda?

  • ” If one day the creek could be cleaned up enough to allow a beach to be built there then we could have a grand park,”

    I have a kooky idea on that topic. I’d love to see power boats banned east of the Cambie bridge, a lock and platform for tidal power tech experiments built underneath the bridge, and a huge impermeable liner sprayed over top the toxic bottom of the creek. Restock it with indigenous fish and other sea life, put in a wave machine to generate surfing waves that travel from west to east and some you’d have an amazing urban beach.

  • Patsy McMillan

    Dear Joe
    If there is nothing here to attract anyone to the park please tell then why 500,000 people come to Science World every year, mostly families, who also make use of the existing park and playgrounds. Why does every running event start and end here, why does every night boating practice and major events take place here and not just the weekend of the festival, why are volleyball players here every Thursday night throughout the summer, why are kids practicing their bicycle tricks, why are families coming here for picnics, why did the city sponsor 5,000 people in the park with booths etc. for the Bridge the Climate Gap event a couple of weekends ago? All of this and more happens here all the time. You obviously don’t live here or you would see the number of people who use the existing small park every day. It is probably one of the most highly used parks in the city because it is the only access point to the water from the eastern half of the city.
    What is really happening here is the planning dept. is looking at the increased density and the future Creekside Park site in isolation when there should be a co-relation between the two. All other developers have had to adhere to the City’s park to person ratio of 2.75 acres per 1000 residents by either providing the park or by paying cash in lieu to the city for other substantial amenities. And, they have to pay it to the city before a shovel of dirt is turned.
    We only want the same for NEFC.

  • Stephanie

    I’d just like to note my amusement that the condos near BC Place are being sold with restrictive covenants due to the anticipated noise issues. I recall that not long ago all of us who live in the vicinity of the proposed open-air Whitecaps stadium were repeatedly told that our concerns about noise were unfounded.

    Anyhow, carry on.

  • Joe Just Joe

    All the runs start and end in nefc because there is currently nothing there and it makes a good staging area, to imply they start or end there because there is anything special there is being dishonest.
    You are correct I don’t live in NEFC as I’m not a piece of abandoned equipment sitting in a parking lot, I do however live in the international village area which is just as close to it, as citygate is. I’m sorry I just don’t share your vision for a grandiose creekside park. I do though envision a lively community even if it’s full of 20somethings.

  • Wacky Bennett’s equally wacky son built BC Place way, way back. Some one suggested its real estate is too valuable for such a use: that makes good sense.

    And wacky too is the “restrictive noise covenant.” When the 20 somethings mature and want kids, they’ll challenge the ridiculous restriction and it wont stand up in court.

    For the most part the noise, and its not only rock concerts, come for Surrey hooligans whose barren wasteland cannot keep them down on the farm Saturday nites . . .

    Rip the bloody thing down and put us all out of our misery . . .

  • gmgw

    I should add that the “restrictive noise covenant” or whatever you want to call it, will, as I understand it, apply only to the newly-built multiple towers planned to ring BC Place, most of them (but not all) to be developed by PavCo.

    The one possible saving grace of this massive exercise in densification would be, I suppose, if said towers block, deflect or absorb a portion of the noise that will emanate from open-roof events (be they concerts, games or monster truck pulls), thereby saving the rest of False Creek from an earache.

  • Jeeezuz god . . . ENTERTAINMENT ZONE! What fool conjured up that misnomer?

    “Entertainment zone” implies diversity choice, interest, drama art . . . not overwhelming single use . . .

    A cuppla marshmallows bung chock of screaming hooligans ain’t entertainment it’s affront to civil society . . .

  • Bill Lee

    Ah, the “entertainment zone” keep the drunkards in one place, much like keep the rubbies in one place, and do we need reminding of the Kerrisdale ghetto.
    Toronto is wondering about the abuses of the masses at its district, and Paris, sweet Paris, is becoming No-Fun City.
    Linkname: Petition claims Paris nightlife is dying | Travel |

    …”Owners of nightclubs, concert halls and bars claim that boboisation –
    gentrification – of traditional party neighbourhoods has led to a
    gradual asphyxiation of nightlife. Residents moving into areas such as
    the Marais, the city’s gay quarter, Bastille, a student hub, and
    Belleville, a working-class district in the east, are unwilling to put
    up with the noise, they say.
    “Over the last 10 years Parisian music venues … have taken a heavy
    blow due to Parisians’ growing desire for ever more tranquillity,”
    claims the petition, blaming the city’s “extreme centralisation” for
    bringing together recreational and residential areas….[ more ]


  • Colin

    Urbanismo, I’m just telling it like I see it – we just have different views on the matter.

    I have zero affiliations (and I’m definitely not a fan of Concord Pacific, despite living in one of their bldgs), I have clear views of both stadia, and my hearing is fine. As I said, the daily traffic noise is worse in my opinion, plus the concerts all end by 11pm.

    I think the success of existing buildings within earshot of the stadia, of which there are several, is evidence enough that a dense NEFC makes sense.