Musqueam: Land seen as vehicle for self-sufficiency

The Musqueam Indian Band has filed its initial rezoning application for its proposed development of a 22-acre site on the University Endowment Lands.


Plans for the site between University Boulevard and Acadia Road, known as Block F, have been in the works for several years. The provincial government returned the land to the Musqueam under a 2008 reconciliation agreement. “An initial submission of plans has been made to the UEL administration, setting out proposals for the development of the Block F Lands,” stated an emailed comment attributed to UEL manager Marie Engelbert.

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It also indicated an initial review of the submission has been completed by the UEL administration and its consultants and checked against the UEL’s bylaw for land use, building and community administration. “Outstanding requirements identified through this review have been communicated to the applicant,” according to Engelbert. “Once a full application has been received, in line with the bylaw requirements, the application will be accepted for processing, and a full technical review of the application will begin. At this stage, the applicant’s submission will be posted on the UEL website for public information.”


The UEL administration can’t comment on application details until the full application has been made public. It’s unclear how long this will take.


“The timing of the technical review is influenced by the quality of the application, the completeness of the supporting analysis and the issues arising,” according to Engelbert. “The review process will include significant public consultation.”


Several open houses were held prior to the application being filed, most recently in April when the preferred option was revealed. It envisioned a commercial village of 30,000 square feet, a four-storey 120-room hotel, residential buildings, including three-storey town homes, four-to-six storey buildings, and four towers between 18 to 22 storeys, as well as open spaces in the form of trails, parks and village greens. It allowed for the mature stand of trees to remain with the wetlands in the centre of the site.


Wade Grant, a Musqueam Indian Band councillor, told the Courier that Block F was meant to be an economic driver for the community.


“That was all part of the reconciliation agreement when the land was transferred back to the Musqueam — that Block F was for an economic development purpose so that we could become more economically self-sufficient,” he said. “We want to provide more ability to build houses on our own in our community for our community members. We have a number of community members who are on our waiting list to build a home in Musqueam — over 200 people are on the waiting list. We want to provide health services for our elders. We want to provide more education services to our young people. So we’re just hoping to provide more money towards social services because our population is growing exponentially. We’re at 1,300 now. We’re expecting to be 2,300 by 2030.”


The Musqueam Capital Corporation, which was formed a year ago to serve at arm’s length from the Musqueam’s political body, is overseeing the Block F project as well as  the band’s other assets.


Aside from Block F, projects underway include the Milltown Marina at the foot of Granville on the Fraser River across from the airport; Shalimar townhomes, which are completed and are rental homes on the reserve; work on the Musqueam golf course; the Fraser Arms Hotel, which the Musqueam bought in 1993; and an office building in the Glenlyon Business Park, former home to the Nokia Corporation.


noconnor@vancourier.com
twitter.com/naoibh

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