Residents of downtown Vancouver's Yaletown neighbourhood are taking the city to court over plans to build a huge new tower on the edge of the popular Emery Barnes Park.

Locals claim city staff were not open enough about the 36-storey apartment tower project at 508 Helmcken St., and they're worried about hundreds of new people using the already busy green space.

The Community Association of New Yaletown has channelled that concern into a lawsuit against the City of Vancouver and the Development Permit Board, claiming the city essentially withheld information from the public about the plan.

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President Jon Green, who lives in Yaletown, says he loves the park but is worried about the new development.

"I take my dog to this park every day. We use it, this park is full," he said. "One of the major concerns was how this development was approved."

The lawsuit claims the city agreed to allow the tower to be built on the site of a city-owned social housing building. In return, the developer would give a parcel of land across the street for a new social housing complex at 1099 Richards St.

The suit alleges that in making the deal with Brenhill Developments, the city withheld information about rezoning the land and violated its own bylaws.

Creating a green city?

The city's ruling party, Vision Vancouver, pushes the idea of creating a "green" city, but the association says what the city is doing is the opposite.

The association claims that residents were promised park space in the downtown core that never materialized.

Allan Alberts, vice-president of the association, claims that land currently occupied by buildings was supposed to be added to the existing park. 

"When those buildings had outlived their useful life that land would be converted to the park and possibly also used for daycare, which is deeply needed in our neighbourhood," said Alberts.

The group's lawyer, Nathalie Baker, is calling for a complete rethink of the project.

"The whole process should start again from scratch, so that there can be proper public consultation," she said.

Green says he accepts density but believes the city is behind in expanding its green space.

"When people were told about this park more than 15 years ago, or 10 years ago, they were told that eventually the entire block would encompass the park," said Green.

None of the allegations has been proven in court. The city says it won't comment since the case is before the courts.

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