Description

The Heather Lands Policy Statement (pdf), approved on May 15, 2018, was the city’s first planning statement approved by city council within the 2014 framework for Reconciliation.

Redevelopment plans call for 2,300 residential units in 12 towers between 12 and 24-storeys, a 69 space day care facility, four acres of park and green space, an elementary school, neighbourhood retail space, and architecture and landscape design “informed by indigenous values and design principles.”

Significance

  • City council approved a set of principles for development of the conceptual plan and policy statement that incorporated indigenous values. The principles were expected to create opportunities for sharing culture, storytelling, healing and prosperity. Those principles were in addition to the overall project guiding principles related to energy, waste, sustainability, accommodating a range of housing and a diversity of public spaces and connecting to the adjacent neighbourhood.
  • The First Nation planning principles are:
    • Respect all voices, particularly those who have been marginalized through colonization
    • Incorporate layers of history in the design of the lands
    • Celebrate the return of the lands to first nations ownership
    • Welcome all cultures, ages and abilities by design of public spaces and community buildings that will be for first nations members living beyond the site as well as local residents
    • Create a legacy that respects the past and celebrates the future.
  • The Riley Park South Cambie Community Vision (pdf) of 2005 called for a four-storey limit on development in the area. The Heather Lands policy statement provides for 2,300 residential units in 12 towers between 12 and 24-storeys, a 69 space day care facility, four acres of park and green space, an elementary school, neighbourhood retail space, and design informed by indigenous values.
  • The process for developing policies for Heather Lands could be a precedent that will be followed during development of the Jericho lands site and North East False Creek.
  • Some questioned how the indigenous values would be articulated and whether the conceptual design would be incorporated into construction. 2018 may be too early to tell the significance of the policy statement.

Background

The 21 hectare Heather Lands, located in a single-family neighbourhood adjacent to the Cambie Corridor, was the RCMP headquarters and operational centre in BC up to 2012. The land was sold to a partnership formed by MST Development Corporation, controlled by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation.

The Heather Lands policy statement sets principles and objectives for land use, site character, sustainability, heritage, transportation, density and building heights, and public benefits.

A historic building on the site, called Fairmont Academy, was to be demolished or moved to another site. The building had served as a school and health-care facility but, in recent years, as the police headquarters, first nations have said they regard the building as representative of the oppression they suffered as a result of the RCMP role in residential schools. Some questioned whether the demolition was warranted or whether the building could have been repurposed.

The planning program for the Heather Street Lands began in July 2016. A 2014 milestone in the Chronology marks the federal government decision to sell three properties to MST, the development company formed by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh first nations.

Sources

Last updated: December 6, 2018