There are new details on the Heather Lands project that show an early direction for some of the architectural designs, and an increase in the number of homes, especially non-market housing.
The joint partnership between federal crown corporation Canada Lands Company, and three local First Nations — Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh (MST) — has submitted the rezoning application for the redevelopment of the former RCMP headquarters.
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The 21-acre site at 4949-5255 Heather Street and 657 West 37th Avenue is located west of Cambie Street and Queen Elizabeth Park, and south of BC Children’s Hospital. It is framed by West 37th Avenue to the north, West 33rd Avenue to the south, the lane behind Ash Street to the east, and the lane behind Willow Street to the west. The submitted rezoning plans are guided by city council’s May 2018 approval of the site’s policy statement.
The policy statement plans called for 2,300 new homes with 20% as social housing and 20% for more affordable, attainable homeownership. But the newly submitted rezoning has outlined an expanded housing component, with a total of 2,612 homes, including 1,672 condominium homes, 300 market rental homes, 100 moderate-income market rental homes, and 540 units of social housing.
The condominium unit mix is 249 studios, 834 one-bedroom units, 415 two-bedroom units, and 174 three-bedroom units, while the rental unit mix is 58 studios, 193 one-bedroom units, 111 two-bedroom units, and 38 three-bedroom units. The social housing unit mix is 109 studios, 161 one-bedroom units, 162 two-bedroom units, and 108 three-bedroom units.
At the northern edge of the site facing West 33rd Avenue, the plan calls for 62,300-sq-ft. of retail space, serving both the community and the nearby hospital, as well as 63,000-sq-ft of medical office space. A 74-space childcare facility is also located in this area.
All of these residential and commercial uses are contained within about a dozen towers up to 28 storeys, as well as low-rise and mid-rise buildings.
Additionally, a 22,549-sq-ft First Nations cultural centre and event space in a landmark standalone building will be built next to the retail and office space. A plaza outside this building will be inspired by the MST concept of a “drumbeat signifying gathering, ceremony, and storytelling,” with the paving design extending out into the pedestrian crossing across the new commercial street.
As outlined in the policy statement, there will be a new Conseil Solaire Francophone elementary school at the southwest corner of the site on West 37th Avenue. The 5o,600-sq-ft, four-storey French school will replace the nearby L’Ecole Rose-des-Vents, with classrooms for Kindergarten through Grade 6, a gymnasium, learning centre, and community amenity space. An additional childcare facility is proposed for the top floor.
The redevelopment features four acres of public and open space, including a central park.
“The proposed new Heather Lands neighbourhood reflects the shared aspiration of CLC-MST to transform the Heather Lands into an inspiring, progressive and sustainable new neighbourhood that generates the best possible economic and social benefit for MST Nations members, local communities, and the country,” reads the design rationale.
“Through urban design, landscape, public art, architecture and the signature MST Cultural Centre, the Heather Lands will connect people to the traditions of the MST Nations. MST culture and stories are woven throughout the proposed design, and will lie at the heart of the new community.”
Besides the cultural centre, First Nations elements are scattered across the redevelopment, including public spaces and public art. For example, one of the southernmost parcels with a large cluster of rental housing will have a covered gathering space inspired by the traditional woven cedar hat worn by the MST. The project’s architectural firm is DIALOG.
Nearly 2,000 vehicle parking stalls and 5,000 bike parking spaces will be provided. The redevelopment will generate a total floor area of 2.52 million sq. ft. for a floor space ratio density of 2.75 times the size of the lot. The project will be realized over several phases.
The future of the 1920s-built heritage Fairmont building, one of the structures of the RCMP campus, is unknown. In 2018, the city said it would attempt to relocate the structure, instead of demolishing it to make way for the planned cultural centre.
The Heather Lands is one of five neighbourhood-sized redevelopments within the Cambie Street Corridor.