The Squamish First Nation’s plans to build a 6,000-unit residential development in Vancouver has taken a major step forward as the community voted in favor of the Revery Architecture-designed project on December 10. Eighty-seven percent of members voted in support of construction, which will be made possible through a 50-50 partnership with the developer Westbank.
Last Thursday, new renderings of the $3-billion, 11-tower development were published by The Daily Hive and they illustrate just how radically the project would transform the city’s Kitsilano neighborhood. Located on the reserve lands at Sen̓áḵw, the project will be Canada’s largest development on First Nations land. Because of this location, the city of Vancouver will have no ability to regulate what is built; however, this doesn’t mean that the Squamish Planning Group won’t work closely with the city on the vision for the site.
In 2014, the City of Vancouver was designated as a City of Reconciliation and outlined goals to “form a sustained relationship, mutual respect, and understanding with local First Nations and the Urban Indigenous community,” as well as “promote Indigenous peoples arts, culture, and awareness.” This project is just one example of these values being put into action. “It’s a change for us, but we deserve it,” Chief Janice George told CBC. “We deserve to benefit from this land, just like everybody else in Vancouver.”
The 11.7-acre development will be situated near the foot of the Burrard Bridge on a 500-acre parcel of land and will transform the existing neighborhood into a dense urban center. Out of the 11 towers, the tallest is expected to reach 56 stories. Between 70-and-90 percent of the units will be designated as market rental units and the rest will be leased as condominiums.
“The Squamish Nation is thrilled with the outcome of this referendum, which was approved by a landslide. It is truly a landmark moment in our Nation’s history,” wrote Squamish Nation councilor Khelsilem, in a statement on Facebook. “The Sen̓áḵw Project will transform the Squamish Nation by providing immense social, cultural, and economic benefits to Squamish Nation members for generations to come.”
Construction of the first phase is expected to begin in 2021.