July 11, 2022
KPRA is managed by 8 residents of Kits Point, the KPRA Executive Team (“KET”), and represents the 1100 households in the Kits Point community, of which 60% are rental. KPRA does not support any political candidate or party.
KET welcomes the Squamish Nation’s ability to develop the Sen̓áḵw reserve. This is an extraordinary opportunity for the nation and COV to ensure that the development is as beneficial as possible for the Squamish Nation people and COV citizens. KET has been in direct contact with both parties indicating this.
Squamish Nation and COV both have a legislative jurisdiction and authority to exercise and decide what is in the best interests of their constituents.
COV mayor and council have the legislative authority (per the Vancouver Charter) to determine and negotiate whether (and how) any proposed reserve development connected to or affecting COV plans, transportation, infrastructure and services (“Resources”) can be accommodated by agreements. They also have the legislative authority to mitigate any significant impacts on the Livability (traffic, parking, shadows, view corridors, neighborhood amenities, environment etc.) of its citizens.
Squamish Nation recognizes this authority to negotiate the feasibility or acceptability of any development proposal that does not accord with COV plans, Resources or Livability (Appendix ‘A”). This would include the effects and impacts of the size, scale and density of the development proposal on COV plans, Resources and Livability.
As set out below, COV Mayor Kennedy and supporting councillors decided to forgo COV’s authority to determine and negotiate the feasibility or acceptability of the Sen̓áḵw development proposal and to communicate that COV has effectively no jurisdiction, authority or say to negotiate and determine the size, scale and density of the proposal.
They also decided and communicated that COV had effectively no jurisdiction to disclose any information to or consult with its citizens about the development impacts on COV plans, Resources and Livability prior to approving the municipal agreements necessary for the use or provision of its Resources.
These two decisions and communications are not accurate characterizations of the authority of COV and constitute in effect an abdication of COV authority and management prerogative.
As a result of this COV positioning, in April 2019, Squamish Nation proposed a major increase in the size, scale and density of its original Sen̓áḵw proposal (which was two apartment buildings and a few small office small buildings) to two towers with 3000 mostly market priced rental and leased condo residential units.
This proposal, for towers with over 5,000 residents on a narrow, awkward strip of land surrounding Burrard Bridge, was shockingly outside the boundaries of existing COV plans, resources and zoning.
Media and planning experts universally labelled the proposal as “massive” and “unprecedented”. City Manager Siddhu Johnston described the plans as: “…very dense. Plus, it’s complicated by the very unique shape of the site”
At the time of the announcement, Mayor Kennedy and City Manager Johnston messaged in a coordinated media release with Squamish Nation, that COV had no “jurisdiction”, “legal authority” or “say” to adjust or determine the scope and scale of the development. This was received as such by all media. Here is one example:
“This prime parcel of real estate is poised to become the site of a massive development project that would change the landscape of Vancouver.” “…but the city of Vancouver has no say in this one” and “The city will have no legal authority over the project”. https://globalnews.ca/news/5153124/squamish-nation-housing-development-vancouver/
Shortly after Mayor Kennedy and City Manager assertions that COV had no jurisdiction or authority, on Nov 5,2019, Squamish Nation secured Westbank Corp, one of Canada’s major developers as a partner, and proposed to double the massive scale, size and density to 6000 market priced rental and leased condos, with a density projected to be 10-12,000 people, housed in a highly concentrated set of 11 towers, reaching 56 stories.
10,500 residents constitute 1000 people an acre, which is 10 times the density of Manhattan and 10.6 times as dense as Vancouver’s West End. This proposal was and is on its face fantastically out of context with existing COV plans and Resources. The proposal includes a major altering of the Burrard St bridge to add a transportation hub connection.
Notwithstanding the immensity of size, scale, density of the Sen̓áḵw towers and the consequent impacts on citizen Resources and Livability, Mayor Kennedy called the Squamish Nation Westbank proposal “a real gift to the city”. Despite letters from KPRA to COV Mayor and City Manager asserting that COV has the legal authority to determine the appropriate size, scale and density of the development and consult with interested citizens, the Mayor and COV City Manager continue to negotiate in strict secrecy without any public input or engagement. In the most recent Sen̓áḵw media event an infrastructure agreement protocol was signed by COV and Squamish Nation in public, but the actual terms of the agreement were not released!
The Sen̓áḵw proposal is far from finalized. Metro Vancouver has just received a request to negotiate infrastructure requirements with Squamish Nation and the federal government has not ruled on environmental impacts and consideration of the use of a road through Vanier Park to enable the development.
The principal issue in the upcoming Vancouver election is what is the right way to develop more density and affordable housing and who should lead that decision making. The accuracy and extent of the communications and how the Westbank Squamish First Nation Sen̓áḵw development proposal is being managed by the COV Mayor and City Manager are therefore highly relevant voter considerations.
KET CONTACT: Chair Laurie McPherson or Scott Dunlop at Admin@KPRA.ca
“There are a number of pieces at play and there is a requirement to work with the City of Vancouver for this development to provide infrastructure to the site, as well as coordination of engineering requirements on the roads that are adjacent to the site. If we think about how many construction vehicles will be coming and going from the site, they will have to travel on roads on the City of
Vancouver, where it requires the Nation and the City to work together.” https://www.vancouverrealestatepodcast.com/podcast/11-towers-and-6000-new-homes-near- burrard-bridge-with-khelsilem-tlak%CC%B1wasik%CC%93a%CC%B1n/
“Khelsilem said other First Nations in Canada have partnered with developers before on smaller-scale projects, but municipalities have blocked some of those projects from going forward through service agreements.”