Kitsilano Developing Story: Squamish plans going ahead, few details available

Squamish Nation plans to develop property at the south end of Burrard Bridge on the edge of Kitsilano are moving forward even though few details about progress have been publicly released.
The band’s 11 acres are adjacent to Molson Brewery on Burrard Street. In 2010, Squamish Chief Gibby Jacob told the Courier more details would be made public within the year but such details have not been released. At the time, news reports and a rendering suggested the development would include residential towers.
Kent Munro, the City of Vancouver’s assistant director of planning, said he saw the rendering but believes the band is rethinking plans and it’s not necessarily what will be going forward. But the city hasn’t seen any new plans.
“The nation has been keeping us generally updated periodically. They haven’t shared with us any new specific plans, but certainly they’ve let us know that they continue to plan for future development on their lands at the south end of the bridge,” Munro said. “We haven’t seen anything since then [2010]. I don’t know whether that’s an accurate reflection of what they are now thinking or whether they actually know what it is that they’re wanting to do. …As you can well imagine, to develop something like that takes a lot of work — there’s financial issues and whatever else, so they’re working on all those issues.”
One subject the band has discussed recently with the city is how the lands might be serviced in terms of water, sanitary and roads, according to Munro. He the city doesn’t need to know specific details for those discussions. If the band wants to integrate with city road networks or waterlines, it’s just a matter of how that happens and how costs are shared.
Munro anticipates public consultation once concrete development plans are produced.
“They’ve told us they intend to consult with the public like any other municipality would and they’ve told us that we’re welcome to comment or provide our comments, which we might do when there’s something more specific,” he said. “But ultimately the decision on what they want to do rests with their band council.”
Munro called the relationship between the City of Vancouver and the band a “very good and respectful” government-to-government relationship.
When asked why he thinks it’s taking so long for more information about the development to emerge, Munro said the Squamish Nation should provide comment on that question.
“It doesn’t surprise me in a way. It’s a fairly big piece of property. A lot of money and investment is involved. When we developed the north side of False Creek, it took years and years and years until anything appeared on the ground. There’s an awful lot of work that needs to be done before you get to a shovel on the ground.”
Hazel Desharnais, a senior communications adviser for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, directed questions about specific development details to the Squamish Nation.
“Our government is working with the Squamish Nation and provincial and private partners to develop a regulatory regime under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act that would apply to a mixed-use residential commercial development on their reserve,” she said. “In general, the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act addresses barriers to economic development on reserve land and enables First Nations to engage in commercial and industrial development partnerships like large-scale commercial housing projects.”
Calls to the Squamish Nation office were not returned by the Courier’s press deadline.
noconnor@vanocurier.com
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