Is it fair for the City of Vancouver to sacrifice public park space for the benefit of a private development?

The issue at stake is the proposed construction of an access road off Chestnut Street, through Vanier Park, that would enable easy access to the northern section of Senakw. This road means that the developer (a partnership of the Squamish Nation and Westbank, named Nch’Kay/West) would not have to allocate space within its property boundary for access purposes, thereby enabling maximization of the building footprint of the site.

Approximate location of proposed Vanier Park Lane

At this particular moment in time, it is indeed difficult to write critically of a project that involves First Nations, but since time is of the essence, this needs to be done. In addition, to write about the Senakw development in Kits Point requires an extra layer of sensitivity given the horrendous history of the Squamish Nation in Kits Point, whence they were forcibly removed in 1913 and their homes burned to the ground.

There are further issues that need to be understood. First that there are alternate solutions for the provision of site access, but these require the developer to reduce the density of the project. However, it should be noted that the proposed population density of Senakw is already 8.28 times that of Vancouver‘s Westend. For reference, see Population Density.

A second issue is the way the City of Vancouver is conducting negotiations with the developer: in total secret; without prior consultation with residents; and without any clear traffic plan in place for Kits Point.

The third issue is that none of the three sign boards placed at points on the perimeter of the site, show any hint of the proposed access road through Vanier Park. For reference see Sign Boards. However, this road is clearly seen on the developer’s website, where it is named ‘Vanier Park Lane’. For reference see Vanier Park Lane.

Critics would say is this a case of NIMBYism, and that the Park belongs to the Squamish Nation anyway. Well on the second point, the fact of the matter is that the Squamish nation ceded the Kits Point land (except the current Senakw site) to the Government of Canada in 2000, for a payment of $92.5 million. For reference, see Kitsilano Agreement.

Site plan showing proposed road through Vanier Park

With regard to the first point, yes, there is a slight case of NIMBYism in this opinion piece, but nonetheless it does seem illogical to route traffic from the 9,000 resident Senakw project into a residential area that is already plagued with severe traffic congestion due to narrow streets, and facilities such as the Museum of Vancouver, the Maritime Museum, the Marina, Kits Beach, the Seawall Bike Path, as well as long term events like Bard on the Beach. It seems way more logical to route traffic into a commercial area, (1st Avenue and Fir Street), where there is little weekend activity and none at night. This routing also is better served for access to the Burrard and Granville Bridges.

In conclusion, while Senakw offers an important and welcomed addition to Vancouver’s home rental stock, this is a complex and emotional matter that needs further airing and consultation.

Last modified: July 24, 2021

13 Responses to " Senakw: At All Levels, A Sensitive Project "

  1. Viviane says:

    is there a petition going against the access road through Vanier Park? And if so, could you publish it to be signed?
    Viviane

  2. Carol says:

    Vivian = NIMBY

  3. KEN says:

    It has nothing to do with NIMBY. The density brought forth with UBC development etc is increasing traffic flow to a breaking point in KITs and it’s major arteries. Adding this high-density development would simply add to the poor infrastructure already in place in the area and this lane access would be negatively impactful. I am all for this area to be developed within reason but to even consider this a First Nations issue is simply a guise to hide the development and revenues expected for those involved.

  4. maureen says:

    I don’t like it either but maybe the land and their homes should not have been taken away from them in the first place and we wouldn’t be having these problems. Widen Chestnut road which is easily done and don’t have the Molson lands redeveloped. The people that bought the Molson land don’t have zoning to build condos and shopping centre so it could be turned into something else and not create so much density on top of this project. Karma sucks!

  5. Marilyn Beech says:

    i would really be interested in signing a petition against this road access.

  6. VanKits says:

    This development is way to big. It is the first nations way to screw Vancouver and there is nothing we can do. The City of Vancouver can do something and should say no to building a road through a public park. If they want a road, build a road on their property only. They can reduce the size of development to build a road. They can build a road from West 1st avenue or extend Cornwall avenue. Chestnut street is a one way street between Cornwall and Greer avenue. Vanier Park already have a road through it called Whyte avenue, it goes to the marina beside the bridge. They could use Whyte avenue.

  7. Owen says:

    All of Vanier Park is traditional territory as well — it’s time to step back and let Squamish Nation decide what to do with their own land!

  8. Vanier says:

    Squamish Nation ceded Vanier Park and received $92 million and some land around Burrard Bridge. Vanier park is not their land anymore. Makes more sense to have most traffic for site use 1st avenue and fir street with access to two bridges. There could be an underground parking entrance on Chestnut street on their land only with only slight changes to their plan and no loss in density.

  9. JEREMY says:

    I think that it is important to note that there is no opposition to the development of the site, but that the opposition is to the use of public space for the provision of an access road, especially when other options are available. Also, if we want to go forward with reconciliation in mind, we must not be afraid to stand up and question when we see things that concern us.
    If you want to join the protest against the proposed road through Vanier Park, visit nosenakwroadway.com

  10. Kitsilano says:

    Why doesn’t the city transfer the land to the North East Side of the Cambie Street Bridge? That land is sitting empty and the Infrastructure appears to already in place. That would be a simple fix.

  11. Theresa says:

    I think a petition should be sent out regarding this

  12. H.H says:

    Interesting comments. First of all the density is over 8 times that as the Westend. 8 times. The developer wants to use the road on a public park in order to maximize density. 8 times more. Perhaps a little less density and keep the road on your property rather than parkland. Secondly. The land was sold back in 2000 for 92 million. If the road somehow magically gets approved I would expect it to be sold at fair 2021 land value.

  13. Nerf says:

    Land that sits as grass like the open field at that side of Vanier is all but useless. We are talking a tiny percent of what is essential an urban wasteland.
    Ultimately though, an artist’s rendition is rarely the actual final plan. I suspect this is just a first salvo in what will be a myriad of attempts by the rich to stop a much needed project in the city.

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