Supreme Court verdict on Creekside Park may clear the way for new co-operation

A BC Supreme Court verdict upholding the City of Vancouver’s decision to allow Concord Pacific to locate condo sales offices on the future site of False Creek’s Creekside Park may actually speed development of the park, not delay it, as the False Creek Residents Association fears.

Despite the FRCA’s claim that the extension of the city permit on the site was improper, Mr. Justice Robert Sewell found the city acted with “sufficient justification, transparency and intelligibility” to justify the extension, which city staff say will not be renewed after 2017. That’s the earliest date at which park construction could begin.

Strangely enough, all three parties involved in the suit — the city, Concord and the FRCA — agree that they want the park completed as quickly as possible.

With the FRCA litigation resolved, there is reason to hope everyone will now focus on working together to move the project forward.

The legal battering ram has not worked. The judge has agreed the city’s process is sound. The deadline for a decision is nearing.

There will be plenty of opportunity for collaboration and negotiation in the next few months as city staff prepare to report to council, as early as June, on the prospects for replacing the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts, opening the door to a larger park with more waterfront green space.

The problem facing the city and Concord is simple. Park construction cannot begin until rezoning for Concord land on the parcel west of the site is complete. Soil in that area is contaminated and cannot be removed; it can only be stored safely under the future park.

More details on that process will be the focus of the June report.

Today’s court decision was the second defeat of the FRCA in its legal battle against Concord’s use of the future park land. A 2013 attempt to force Concord to pay higher taxes on the parcel went in the ditch in a big way when the Property Assessment Appeal Board reduced Concord’s taxes to $1 from the previous level of $400,000.

This was a tough week in court for community groups. A second attempt by Stephen Bohus, of the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant, to overturn the approval of the Rize project at Broadway and Kingsway was thrown out of court Friday as an abuse of the court process which attempted to re-try a matter already decided.