September 7, 2022

Federal Government Provides 1. 4 Billion Dollar Loan for 3,000 Rental Units at Senakw

This week it was announced that the Federal Government would be providing the Senakw development with a 1.4 billion dollar loan for the building of 3,000 apartment rental units in two phases.  This covers half of the 6,080 units being planned on Squamish Nation traditional lands next to the Burrard Bridge. The 1.4 billion dollar loan would be administered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

As the Federal government stated: “With today’s announcement, the Government of Canada is supporting Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw’s (Squamish Nation) long-term vision for the Sen̓áḵw lands, while helping to define a new generation of First Nations reconciliation and leadership, grow our economy, and create good jobs. We will continue to work together to advance meaningful reconciliation, including economic reconciliation, and ensure everyone has a safe place to call home.”

You can read the full text of the Federal government’s statement here.

It was only a month ago that the Servicing Agreement between the City of Vancouver and the Squamish First Nation was released, outlining how the 10.2 acre site will connect into the city grid for water, electricity, sewer, and transportation services.It also details how things like police, fire and ambulance will be accommodated, and addresses any outstanding infrastructure issues.

The agreement also had images detailing the location of the eleven towers with  6,080 units,  all rental with 20 percent at or below average market rents, which is City policy approved in 1988.

You can take a look at the full 250 page Services Agreement and attachments here.

This article written by Vancouver journalist Frances Bula and Ottawa’s Bill Curry  outlines a bit more about the agreement, and notes that there was an opportunity for this fifty year loan to be offered under the “Rental Construction Financing Initiative” put forward by the Federal government this year.

Had this been done, 40 percent of the units would have been affordable as opposed to 20 percent, in that the units would have  “provide rent equal to or lower than 80 per cent of the average market rent in their local community.” Instead of market rents as the factor, the criteria this project is using for the 20 percent affordable is based upon income.

The federal loan of money is the largest ever made by the CMHC and does give the Westbank developer, who have partnered 50/50 with the Squamish First Nation in the Nchkay Development Corporation savings of ” tens of millions of dollars at a time when private-finance interest rates are rising sharply”.

Given that the Federal government loan is in place, expect more transparency as this project develops, and more public consultation on the phases, public art, innovative transportation hub  and project build out.




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  1. Oh to be the proverbial fly on the wall in these discussions around the $1.4 B loan and allowable rent charge schemes. I want to have felt the sizzle of power dynamics zinging around the room between the Feds, with their rent price conditions, and the Squamish Nation’s revenue stream going forward. All balanced against progress on reconciliation and getting a lot more housing built in Vancouver (which City Council seems unable to do).

    Can you imagine what it’s like in the Jericho meetings, with considerably more money and impact in the offing, and a vastly different ownership situation?

  2. Not sure what more consultation is going to achieve, but OK.
    – “I fear change and buildings that are next to each other but look different. I oppose this development.
    – “Thank you for your input.”

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