Description

Credit: Revery Architecture

Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw  (the Squamish People) announced a partnership with iconic Vancouver developer Westbank to build 11- towers, some as high as 56 stories, on its Sen̓áḵw lands near the south end of the Burrard Bridge. Most of the 6,000 new units will be rental.

Significance

Credit: Revery Architecture
  • Development could transform the rental market in Vancouver, injecting 6,000 new homes for 10,000 to 15,000 people within walking distance of the city’s core.
  • Initial plans indicate development will vary the city’s urban design, opting for tall towers surrounded by open space, rather than towers on podiums of townhouses and/or commercial space.
  • The towers will be on reserve land that is not subject to any of the city’s zoning regulations or bylaws. The developer can build without consideration of Vancouver’s planning policies, strategies or programs.

Background

In 1913, the B.C. government under Conservative premier Richard McBride forced the Squamish people to abandon their homes so the city of Vancouver could expand. They had about two days to pack up and head to the North Shore on this barge. (Indigenous Foundations/UBC)
  • Initial plans have been unveiled for 11 towers in Senakw (Kitsilano) with around 6,000 units on 4.7-hectares. Only 10 per cent of the units will have parking included in the development. The towers will go straight up, leaving about 80 per cent of the land as open space.
  • Development will look to Vancouver for sewer, water, waste, police and fire services.
  • The Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw were removed from their land in 1913 and regained possession in 2002 in a multi-million dollar financial settlement following lengthy court cases. 
  • The Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw are Coast Salish Indigenous peoples who have asserted their right to the land and resources in the territories that they have inhabited since beyond recorded history. They have never ceded or surrendered title to the lands, rights to the resources or the power to make decisions within the territory.
  • Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw traditional territory includes some of the present day cities of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster, all of the cities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, Port Moody and all of the District of Squamish and the Municipality of Whistler. These boundaries embrace all of Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet and English Bay as well as the rivers and creeks that flow into these bodies of water.
  • The Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw are scattered among nine communities stretching from North Vancouver to the northern area of Howe Sound. Over 60 per cent of the more than 3,600 Squamish Nation members live on reserve.
  • The Squamish Nation Council on October 8, 2019 approved the creation of a housing society called “Hiy̓ám̓ ta Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Housing Society,” which means “The Squamish Are Coming Home.” The housing society is tasked with helping build affordable housing units for Squamish Nation members.
960px version of IMAGE2.Senakw-looking-east.jpg
Sen̓áḵw looking east, circa 1907. Photo via the City of Vancouver Archives.

Sources

Credit: Revery Architecture

Prepared by: Robert Matas, VCP Commissioner
Edited by: Yuri Artibise, VCPC Executive Director
Last Updated: November 27, 2019