The Squamish Nation has announced a proposal to build a large-scale apartment development near the south end of the Burrard Bridge that could be comprised of 3,000 housing units, with the majority of them slated as rentals.
The development, on reserve land, would be situated to the west of the Burrard Bridge and near Vanier Park, on the waterfront.
On Twitter, Khelsilem, a Squamish Nation council member, said the lands that are being developed — called Sen̓áḵw — have special significance to the Nation, because they were given back to the Squamish Nation again 17 years ago.
“It was our home for thousands of years before being forcibly evicted by the federal and provincial governments in 1916,” he wrote. “In 2002, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that approximately 11.7 acres of the former Kitsilano Reserve, which had been taken off regional maps, would become an ‘Indian Reserve’ of the Squamish Nation again.”
Speaking to Daily Hive on Wednesday afternoon, Khelsilem said the proposed project is still in the very early stages of planning and concept.
“We are currently launching an announcement to the community, to our own members, so we can let them know of our plan and proposal,” he said. “Ultimately our Squamish Nation members will have to vote in the referendum that supports the terms of the business arrangement, so we’ll be going to the community later this year to get their approval.”
If approval is received, “we’ll continue on doing a business partnership with the proposed developer and then move forward to other aspects of the process, such as financing, and then eventually construction.”
At this point, Khelsilem said there are no estimates on a specific construction timeline, or a project completion date.
Asked if he expected any potential pushback on a project of this size and scale from those in the neighbourhood and community, Khelsilem said it was hard to say.
“There’s always feedback and comments on any kind of project, no matter what the scale is, so we know that will be part of the process,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to understand that the land is actually owned by the Squamish nation, and falls under the jurisdiction of the Squamish nation council, so Vancouver actually has no zoning or bylaw capacity over these lands.”
In an email to Daily Hive, a spokesperson for the City of Vancouver confirmed this is the case.
“The Squamish Nation would not be required to apply to the city to redevelop this area,” the city said. “If they do proceed with a project on these lands, we would look forward to continuing our longstanding relationship and work with them to support their integration with the existing community and city service connections.”
-With files from Vincent Plana