Letter to Bernd Christmas, CEO, Nch’Kay Corporation, Dec 2021


I am writing as a follow up to your meeting with members of the KPRA Executive Team (KET) on September 10 at the Vancouver Museum. As indicated, we sincerely appreciated your interest and time taken with gusto discuss issues relating to the Senakw development. We were anticipating receiving a communication in relation to our concerns about the lack of community consultation. We now think it is appropriate to formally state these concerns and our position. KPRA represents the 1100 households of the Kits Point community, one of Vancouver’s earliest neighborhoods (Kits Point). Our family residents live in a mixture of apartments, condos, townhouses and houses, of which 60% are rental. The Nch’kay West Partnership (Nch’kay West) has published detailed plans to develop 12 high story buildings on Senakw, a plot of Squamish Nation land bisected by a major Vancouver arterial bridge(Burrard) which borders on shoreline, a landmark park and Kits Point. Using the Nch’kay West average estimate of 10,500 residents, Senakw will have an unprecedented population density of 1000 people per acre, which will be 11.6 times more dense than the Concord Pacific Expo lands and 7.5 times denser than the most densely populated municipal areas (by census) in the United States and Canada. A host of interests and issues need to be addressed and negotiated by Nch’kay West and the City of Vancouver (COV), including impacts on services, infrastructure, environment, public amenities, parking, traffic and transportation, livability and local taxes (Impacts). Notwithstanding the extraordinary density of this development, COV Council and Management decided to negotiate a comprehensive set of necessary Municipal Services and Infrastructure Agreements with Nch’Kay, under strict in camera confidentiality, and, to not disclose to Vancouver citizens any pertinent information about the Impacts or the proposed management of them. As a lawyer, you know that COV Council and management has the legislated authority and jurisdiction to manage and determine the negotiations of the Services and Infrastructure Agreements and therefore the due process capacity to inform and consult with its citizens. In other development projects amongst First Nations and/or the Federal Government and a Municipal Government, the parties comprehensively inform and consult the affected public, prior to finalizing development plans. In this case COV management and Squamish Nation leaders have taken the strict position that any consultations will only take place after the design is finalized and the Services and Infrastructure Agreements are completed, which essentially renders public consultation meaningless. KET has clearly stated to COV and the federal government (MP Hedy Fry) that this approach is a mistakein governance: a failure of duty and process. Disclosure after decisions have been made is not meaningful consultation. We also point out that, notwithstanding the legal and customary duty of COV and the Federal Government to inform and consult, Squamish Nation and NchKay West also have a civic responsibility, stemming from the expected customary duty of a Canadian developer. This has been acknowledged by Squamish Nation leaders Kheilsam and Chris Lewis. Mr. Lewis stated it this way in arecent high profile public forum:“We want to be good neighbours. We want to be part of a solution, not part of a problem…”“We’re in a different era now where there’s a lot of talk around reconciliation and allowing First Nations to showcase that we want to be good neighbours, that we want to build something that fits with the city that fits with the neighbours… to ensure we are moving forward in a communal way, solving not just the Nations’ problems but the City’s problems as well.”(Alain Bertaud Public Salon, Sept 9, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDodPar6AtA&ab_channel=PublicSalon)During our September meeting, we identified a particularly acute issue which will have a significant impact on Senakw’s most immediate neighbors, Vanier Park and Kits Point: the Nch’Kay West request and COV decision to attempt to secure the construction of an access roadway through Vanier Park land to enable the unprecedented Senakw density. Vanier Park is leased by the Federal Government to the Parks Board on express terms that the land is to be used only for park purposes. Not surprisingly, a spontaneous citizen campaign to bring the Senakw roadway access issue to the attention of the COV, Federal Government, Parks Board and the media, is now in full swing. Several hundred signs appear on residents’ property, indicating their opposition to the process (www.nosenakwroadway.com). The public concern about the consideration of the park roadway is an example of how a process, designed to avoid expected disclosure of pertinent information and citizen input, can lead to unnecessary disharmony, conflict and claims. Another significant issue, identified at our September meeting, is that Kits Point has well-known traffic, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and parking issues. These issues will obviously be enormously magnified when 9,000 new residents and their visitors and service providers travel to and from the Senakw development. Further, the proposed Senawk access roadway intersects awkwardly at a “T” in the middle of Chestnut St., notwithstanding there are several direct and less intrusive intersection options. Proceeding without consultation on how traffic and parking will be managed surely cannot be considered to be “moving forward in a communal way” or “fitting in with the city or the neighbours”. At our September meeting we were encouraged when you told us that community consultation was planned for October. You had indicated this would be meaningful consultation, which means it must occur before decisions are made. Can you tell us when this consultation will occur? We note that the Squamish Nation website refers to one of the steps being approval of an “implementation plan for the first phase” of the Senakw development. Nch’Kay West should provide relevant information to affected citizens about the major Impacts and enable citizen and community input prior to determining its final Implementation Plan or achieving a final set of the Service and Infrastructure agreements. There is certainly no indication of any need to rush. As Chris Lewis said during the Public Salon, commenting on the unique status of this development, “We can move as quick as we want or as slow as we want”. In conclusion, on behalf of KET, I request another conference with you, to engage in a discussion with Eve Munro and myself on a without prejudice basis to consider how an appropriate due process public consultation can be achieved and to review the contentious Vanier Park roadway and shared, traffic and parking issues. We trust you will agree that having such a meeting would be a good neighbour initiative and a step in the right direction to establishing a harmonious constructive development process that would enhance the trust and community leadership of Squamish Nation and Nch’Kay West.

Best regards,