I am sad. I feel truly deflated. My Government, the people of Canada‘s Government, has sacrificed a substantial piece of parkland at the altar of a private real estate development. On 28 July 2022, the Ministry of Public Works granted a licence to the Squamish Nation to build a roadway through the south end of Vanier Park, stretching from Chestnut St. eastward for 300m with a width of 20m, for access to the Senakw Phase 1 site, situated north of the Burrard Bridge. Phases 2, 3 & 4 are south of the Bridge. (See image below).
The Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart, stated that Senakw is a “gift” to the city of Vancouver. However, it appears that it is a gift to the property developers. I say this because Senakw in fact has direct access to a city street (Chestnut] and thus there is no need to use public park space for site access. This is of course every developer’s dream. But for the citizens of Vancouver, this is a nightmare scenario: we will lose 4000 sqm of grassed parkland and 2000 sqm of forest. All for an unnecessary road! (See image below).
Furthermore, having both entrance to, as well as exit from Senakw via Chestnut Street makes little sense from a traffic-flow perspective. Chestnut Street feeds into already congested Greer, Creelman and Whyte Avenues, which in turn all feed into super-congested Cypress Street. Surely, since Senakw at its southern side, abuts Fir Street and 1st Avenue, which have easy access to both the Granville and Burrard bridges respectively, it makes better traffic-flow sense to have direct access to Senakw from Chestnut Street and have a one-way road that connects with the Senakw Phase 2, 3 & 4 road system, which exits at Fir Street and 1st Avenue? (See image below).
This solution makes additional sense in that the commercial area of Fir and 1st Avenue has virtually no traffic on weekends and evenings, while the residential Kits Point area is jampacked with traffic seven days a week due to its proximity to the Museums, Marina, Academy of Music, Bard on the Beach, and it being for frequented by marathoners, tourists, cyclists, rollerbladers, beach goers, and dog-walkers.
Also, a road through Vanier Park, will sandwich the three Senakw Phase 1 towers between the Burrard Bridge in the south and the road in the north. This cuts off the residents of Senakw from direct access to Vanier Park. If the access road were to be located on the south of the towers, adjacent to the Burrard Bridge, Senakw Phase 1 residents would have un-fettered access to Vanier Park. (See image below).
So why has this come about?
Arrogance. By the City of Vancouver. Given that Senakw is the largest development of its kind in North America, the fact that the City negotiated a Services Agreement in secret with the Senakw developers, and did not bring neighbourhood voices into the discussion, is an example of unnecessary and unfortunate arrogance.
Abdication of Responsibility. By the Parks Board. While it is acknowledged that Vancouver is in dire need of rental units, it is also in need of park space, especially for the 10,000 new residents of Senakw. With a stated mission to protect park space, surely what has come about is an abdication of the Parks Board’s responsibility.
Lack of Accountability. By the Federal Government. It should be noted that reparations of $92.5 million and the establishment of the Senakw Reserve were part of a Settlement Agreement reached in 2000 between the Government and the Squamish Nation, by which the Nation agreed not to pursue a claim to Vanier Park.
The point is that the Government paid all this money to settle the claims and to preserve Vanier Park for the public and there should be some finality to that. Which begs the question: where is the accountability for the use of Taxpayer funds?
For these reasons, I have organized a Rally to Save Vanier Park, at 2:00pm, Saturday 17th September, 1300 block of Chestnut St, Vanier Park South.
Last modified: September 13, 2022