The Squamish First Nation’s plan to build two high-rises on native land at the southwest corner of the Burrard Bridge is in the news again.
Squamish First Nation Chief Gibby Jacob said today that the band’s intent is create economic development and provide much-needed housing for the community.
“Nobody is lining up to house our people,” he said. “We have 2,000 members on a waiting list.” The “business” proposal will be voted on by band council and 3,700 members later this month. “Hopefully, if we get approval, work could get going next year. There is still a lot to be done,” he said.
While Chief Jacob did not disclose the numbers of units contemplated, heights of buildings or the firms involved, their plans have been public for some time. In May of 2010 they showed off their plans for a 35 storey tower on the four-hectare parcel, which straddles both sides of the bridge. The tallest of the towers will sit where the giant billboard was erected by the Squamish First Nation before the 2010 Games.
The land in question was re-acquired by the Squamish First Nation in 2002 after a lengthy court battle. The Squamish Indian Band argued that Crown land taken under that Railway Act in 1886 for railway purposes must be restored to them when it ceased to be used for railway purposes.
Chief Jacob said today that permission is not required from the City of Vancouver because the project would be on self-governing native land.
But no doubt Westside residents will have something to say about a development that will fundamentally block the view corridor the City of Vancouver has preserved for decades.
Last modified: September 7, 2022
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Forgive me if I’m wrong, but these buildings will block hardly anyone’s view corridor. To me, that issue is a red herring and a diversion.
The key issue here, and most troubling thing is that the Squamish First Nation are claiming they don’t need city planning approval to build. That’s absurd. However the SFN have been wronged in the past (and let’s not deny they have along with all aboriginal people), that doesn’t justify them circumventing the process everyone else has to go through.
Don’t deny them the right to build this, as it may be a good thing. Just ensure they go through the standard processes. It effectively means if they wanted to build a 150ft high fibreglass chicken, they don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. Ridiculous.
Even if the Squamish (or any other band) needs no local permisssion or rules to build something, they would have a bit of a problem trucking in building supplies if Council made up a quickie by-law banning the use of city owned streets for the transport of building supplies to any site not under a proper development permit. The developer would also have to figure out how to build a zero-footprint building with respect to water, electicity, gas, sewerageand garbage disposal.