There’s some new information on the proposed Senákw project in Vancouver which is on Squamish Nation land near Burrard Street and Vanier Park in Kitsilano. Earlier this year a three billion dollar project was announced at this site which hopes to build 6,000 dwelling units in eleven towers.
This massive project has been ratified by the Squamish Nation in a voting process, and it is intended to be built in an equal venture agreement with Westbank Development Corporation, the same organization that has built Vancouver House.
As reported in the Vancouver Courier with Frank O’Brien , Peter Mitham and Hayley Woodin building 6,000 units in 11 towers “would require buildings of between 55 to 60 storeys, based on comparison with other residential towers proposed but not yet built in Vancouver.”
Squamish Nation Councillor Khelsilem indicated that while the percentage of rental versus strata units had not yet been decided, the project is seen as a long term economic development project. While Westbank will guarantee the loan for the development, and provide any needed equity, the Squamish Nation will be providing their lands.
Leases will run for 120 years, and build out could take ten years. It is intended that rental units will have a 110 year lease and condos will have a 99 year lease paid up front, with the understanding that the condos turn back to rental units upon lease expiry.
The project will be built in five phases, with the first potentially commencing in 2021.
While the lands are going to be exempt from foreign buyers tax, speculation tax, and rent control, the Squamish Nation will be the governing authority. The Nation can collect property taxes to cover the provision of services and amenities, and will need to make agreements with the City of Vancouver for sewer, water, and other services.
As one of the largest infrastructure projects of its kind in Canada, the structuring and set up of the development will attract national interest. As Khelsilem notes on his twitter page the Nation has “access to federal tools to bring Provincial regulations into force” that could include the Residential Tenancy Act.
The history of these lands and how the Squamish First Nations have been treated is documented in this YouTube video by Douglas Harris, a UBC law professor. The history is horrendous. The section from 25:00 documents some of the specifics.
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