Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Details about what the terms of service are will be important to know, planners say, for the massive development.

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The Squamish Nation and City of Vancouver have struck a framework for a service agreement that will provide utilities for the First Nation’s groundbreaking Senakw development adjacent to Burrard Bridge and pave the way for the start of site work as early as this summer.

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Set to occupy land that was expropriated from the Squamish Nation more than 100 years ago, the 11-tower, 6,000-unit development is expected to be home to 9,000 people after its planned completion in 2027, which includes provisions for 250 affordable units to be set aside for Squamish families.

“For all the opportunities that this will bring for the Squamish people, the fact that we’re coming home, I think is a type of joy that is hard to describe,” said Khelsilem, chairperson of the Squamish Nation council.

Details of the service agreement’s terms are still being finalized, but Khelsilem said the memorandum of understanding allows for the provision of water, sewer, electrical and road infrastructure to the site, which the First Nation will pay for under fees and amounts negotiated in the agreement .

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First Nations can raise property taxes on reserve land, under provisions of the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, to pay those fees.

“We do this already on a number of our reserves,” Khelsilem said, with tax rates typically set using mill rates “that are comparable to the neighboring jurisdictions.”

Aerial view of the proposed Senakw development in Kitsilano.
Aerial view of the proposed Senakw development in Kitsilano. PNG

The Senakw development is moving forward at the same time neighboring residents are raising their concerns about the high-density scale of its proposed towers and an apparent lack of engagement with the surrounding community in the development process.

Khelsilem said the pandemic has made engagement difficult over the past three years within the Squamish Nation itself, let alone externally and his council has put considerable effort into making sure Nation members are informed about Senakw.

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“The truth is that because it is an on-reserve development, there is not a lot of required engagement pieces,” Khelsilem said, adding they will welcome input into the design process.

He said there’s still a lot of work in the development and design, but there is no structured plan for it.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said there is an engagement structure in which both sides are working “step by step to make sure we get it right,” for the unique and unprecedented development.

The plan for the Senakw development in Kitsilano calls for a road at the top of the site, beside or perhaps in Vanier Park.  The road would be located north of Parkview Towers, the Y shaped building at 1450 Chestnut.
The plan for the Senakw development in Kitsilano calls for a road at the top of the site, beside or perhaps in Vanier Park. The road would be located north of Parkview Towers, the Y shaped building at 1450 Chestnut. PNG

Senakw’s size, however, with buildings reaching as tall as 59 storeys, is something the Kitsilano Point Residents Association argues does give the City a role in negotiating the scope and scale of what goes onto the site.

A spokesperson was not available Wednesday but a detailed briefing document produced by the group outlines the reasons it should have standing in the development process, including municipal services and a major change to Burrard Bridge for which Senakw will depend on the City to provide.

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People will also need to know the details of the service agreement that have not been made public, said independent city planner and consultant Sandy James.

“A memorandum of understanding would normally cover things like road allowance, provision of emergency services, it would also be for the provision of water and sewerage hookup,” James said.

So that means the city will provide water and sewer infrastructure, Metro Vancouver will be responsible for provision of those services, including addressing capacity to serve a development of this size, which will need another agreement.

Planner Andy Yan, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, said more also needs to be revealed about community amenities, such as schools, libraries and green spaces for 9,000 new residents.

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“I guess (the announcement) is keeping us in the know, but what is there to know?” Yan said.

“I think (that) is going to be in these details around the service agreements, around financing, the infrastructure,” Yan added.



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