Squamish Nation has announced its plans to begin the development of one of Canada’s largest Indigenous urban developments, slated to arise beside Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge.
While still in its formative stages, the project will aim to build a complex offering approximately 3,000 housing units, according to Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem.
Khelsilem estimated that at present, approximately 1,100 of the roughly 4,000 Squamish members are on housing wait-lists.
“For a lot of other First Nations across the country, natural resources is the one option they have for growing their economies. Whereas for us, the land has been completely impacted [by the city’s growth] and so real estate is really the one thing we can get involved in that will make sense to generate revenue,” he stated in an interview with CBC News.
“[The First Nation is] seeing the significant profits that everyone else is making. We’re right in the middle and we’re not doing anything, so I think there’s reasonable impatience that we should be getting involved,” the leader added.
Currently, Squamish Nation is discussing various proposals with a developer, with the most favoured being a primarily rental housing development, while also offering affordable homes for the nation’s members.
Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart welcomed the plan as a natural continuation of the close alliance that the city and the First Nation have built against the controversial expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
“The thing about reconciliation is you don’t really know what it looks like until you’re in the middle of it. So I think this will set some parameters as to what us, Vancouver, being a city of reconciliation, looks like. I’m very keen to make sure this has the best chance of success,” the mayor noted.
“The city is in the middle of a housing crisis, especially when it comes to rentals,” Stewart added, praising the project’s initial goal of 3,000 residential units.