City going ahead with 2,500-home plan on Heather Lands

Forty per cent of homes targeted to low- or mid-income households

The huge new community planned for Vancouver’s Heather Lands will include 2,500 new homes, at least 40 per cent of which will be secured for either low- or moderate-income households, under details released by the City of Vancouver this week.

The 21-acre site, between West 33rd and 37th between Willow and Ash, with Heather Street running through it, sits in the Cambie Corridor development area.

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The land is owned by a collaborative of three First Nations — the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (MST) — and Canada Lands Company, which in 2014 entered into a 50/50 joint venture for the ownership and redevelopment of the property.

The redevelopment of the land could see the end of the historic Fairmont Academy building. The 1914-built, class A heritage building was first a private school and then an RCMP base. It stands directly in the way of the redevelopment, but could be save if it could be moved to a new site. However, the new report on the development says that any retention of the building and its association with the RCMP is seen by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations “as a continued imposition of colonial values.” MST has requested a cultural centre be built in its place as part of the masterplan’s reconciliation goals.

RCMP Fairmont building
The former Fairmont Academy, which was later an RCMP building, will be demolished or moved to make way for the Heather Lands masterplan. Image via City of Vancouver

The newly released details of the Heather Lands masterplan include:

• approximately 2,500 residential units, in buildings from three to 24-storeys;

• a minimum of 20 per cent of units for affordable housing for lower-income households (around 530 units);

• a further 20 per cent to be “attainable home ownership” targeted to moderate-income households (earning $50,000-80,000 a year for singles and couples, and $80,000-$150,000 for families with children);

• of the social housing units, 50 per cent to be geared to families with two or three bedrooms;

• up to 60,000 square feet of local serving retail and service uses (cafe, small grocery, pharmacy, medical office)

• one-acre site for potential 4-storey Conseil Scolaire Francophone school;

• minimum of four acres of secured park and open space (minimum two acres public park);

• a new 69-space childcare facility; and

• a cultural centre (minimum 15,000 square feet).

The road infrastructure supporting the community will include:

• a new 35th Avenue connection through site;

• a new neighbourhood commercial street inside the site;

• extension of Baillie Street and Manson Streets into the site; and

• the redesign of Heather Street to accommodate new Heather Street bikeway.

City council is scheduled to discuss the report at the next meeting on Tuesday May 15.

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