Concord rezoning report lays out process for delivery of Creekside Park
When will False Creek residents at last see delivery of the long-awaited Creekside Park Extension built by Concord Pacific to replace the acres of asphalt now dominating the north side of the Creek?
(Council approved the rezoning Wednesday evening with additional measures to clarify timing of park delivery — more on that in a future post.)
The staff report that backed up this week’s public hearing on Concord’s application to rezone Area 5BW, a parcel between the Cambie Bridge and BC Place Stadium, sets out the process in clear terms. In brief:
- Concord will have to deliver the park when it applies to develop Area 6, south and east of the Stadium and Rogers Arena. This is Concord’s last site for development on False Creek and the company says it is keen to get started.
- The park will be built on Area 9, an area covering contaminated soil which the province is obligated to remediate. Final configuration of the park will require agreement among the city, the province and Concord on a range of issues related to soil remediation.
- Replacement of the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts would allow for creation of a larger park and simplify handling of contaminated soil. A final council determination on this issue will come next summer.
Here’s the relevant passage from the staff report before council this week:
1. Creekside Park Extension and Timing Challenges
Creekside Park Extension is the one remaining park outstanding under the commitments made through the development of Concord’s Pacific Place lands. The southern portion of Creekside Park (adjacent to Science World) has been operational since the early 1990’s.
The northern portion, also known as Area 9, is known as the Creekside Park Extension. Concord has a clear obligation and commitment to provide the Creekside Park Extension which has been a long- standing objective of staff, Council and the residents of False Creek.
In March 2011, Council directed staff to provide a clear timeline for the development of the permanent Creekside Park Extension. However, the challenges with providing a clear commitment on timing of the park development are even greater today than they were in 2011. This section outlines the legal, technical and logistical challenges related to developing a permanent park.
a) Existing Legal Agreements – Development of Area 6c is the “Trigger”
Current legal agreements between the City, Concord and the Province set out the responsibilities for contamination management based on the existing legal parcels and roads in the area. The existing agreements which were signed in 1990 and amended in 2000, identify the development of Area 6C as the trigger event for the completion of the Creekside Park Extension. The rationale for this arrangement relates to the requirement for the Province, which is responsible for the management of contaminated soils, to relocate contaminated soils from the excavation and development of Area 6c and the excavation required to construct the Abbott Street Outfall (storm drain) to locations within the future Creekside Park Extension. Once the contaminated soils are in place in the proposed park area, and a barrier (cap) installed over the soils, Concord would then construct the Extension (on top of the barrier) to the City’s specifications and the City would lease the park from the Province. Andy Livingstone, Coopers Park and George Wainborn are all similar in that the Province owns the land, was responsible for the management of the contaminated soils which are stored permanently in the Park, and the Park is leased on a long term lease to the City . The timing agreed to in the 2000 agreement between the City and Concord allows for the final park to be managed in a similar fashion to all other parks in the Concord lands. Any changes to this arrangement would have to provide an alternative cost neutral (to the Province) model for managing the soils and be agreed to by all parties
b) Creekside Park Extension Reconfiguration
Reconfiguration of Creekside Park Extension and the adjacent Area 6c development site to achieve an alternative model of development was explored in 2010 with City staff, Concord and area residents with a goal of earlier delivery of the Extension. Park reconfiguration could potentially allow for both an improved development scenario and reduced contamination management cost and risk by allowing the most highly contaminated soil on Area 6c to remain in place and be risk-managed within the site boundaries of a reconfigured park. This work continued in spring 2011, with City staff and Concord exploring possible technical solutions that might allow for park delivery in advance of the development of Area 6c. As part of the October 2011 Northeast False Creek: Issues Report, Council endorsed in principle the reconfiguration of Creekside Park Extension. In November 2011, the emerging opportunity presented by the replacement of the viaducts with an at-grade road network shifted the focus to the potential for an expansion of the park.
Subsequent to Council’s endorsement of the park reconfiguration concept, the City hosted a competition to gather ideas from the public and international design community on the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts (November 2011). The design competition yielded a solution for a new at-grade road network that would maintain east-west traffic movements and enable the removal of the viaducts.
On June 26, 2013 Council unanimously approved a report on the Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts and Related Area Planning (RTS 9300). The report discussed potential removal of the viaducts and presented a conceptual design for a replacement road network. Council directed staff to pursue a plan for the area that takes full advantage of the opportunities presented by viaduct removal namely: increased park area; improved connectivity of waterfront and the surrounding communities; reconnection of the blocks along Main Street; and improved housing opportunities including affordable housing.
The replacement of the viaducts with an at-grade road network will result in changes to the legal boundaries of the developable parcels of land in the area (currently owned by Concord, the City and the Province) and roads, adding complexity and more variables to park reconfiguration but creating the opportunity for a larger park. The idea of adjusting the park and development parcels so that residential development is built outside of the worst contaminated areas is a key principle in moving forward on the planning for the area.
In summary, considerable discussion and analysis has been undertaken over the last 3 years by City staff, Concord, the Province and members of the public and particularly the local community in the NEFC area. The option of moving ahead with an early park delivery has not been determined as feasible by the developer at this time due to the numerous complexities outlined above. However, if the rezoning of Area 5b West is approved, Concord will shift its planning focus to work with the City on the required land exchanges and creation of a new area plan to realize viaduct replacement, a reconfigured and larger Creekside Park Extension and a revised development site.
This collaborative process will advance the timing of park delivery.
However Concord remains strongly committed to both enhancing recreational opportunities in the area (see 2. below) and to continuing planning for the delivery of Creekside Park Extension. To demonstrate its commitment Concord has agreed to provide $250,000 (incremental to the CAC associated with 5BW) towards environmental investigations and design work required to create a new area plan and new agreements to govern development timing and contamination management that would allow both viaduct replacement and the construction of some of Creekside Park Extension in advance of the development of 6c.
The replacement of the viaducts with an at-grade road network will result in changes to the legal boundaries of the developable parcels of land in the area (currently owned by Concord, the City and the Province) and roads, adding complexity and more variables to park reconfiguration but creating the opportunity for a larger park. The idea of adjusting the park and development parcels so that residential development i built outside of the worst contaminated areas is a key principle in moving forward on the planning for the area.