I am sad. I feel truly deflated. My Government, the people of Canada‘s  Government, has sacrificed a substantial piece of parkland at the altar of  a private real estate development. On 28 July 2022, the Ministry of Public Works granted a licence to the Squamish Nation to build a roadway through  the south end of Vanier Park, stretching from Chestnut St. eastward for 300m with a width of 20m, for access to the Senakw Phase 1 site, situated  north of the Burrard Bridge. Phases 2, 3 & 4 are south of the Bridge. (See  image below). 

The Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart, stated that Senakw is a “gift” to the city of Vancouver. However, it appears that it is a gift to the  property developers. I say this because Senakw in fact has direct access to a city street (Chestnut] and thus there is no need to use public park space for site access. This is of course every developer’s dream. But for  the citizens of Vancouver, this is a nightmare scenario: we will lose 4000 sqm of grassed parkland and 2000 sqm of forest. All for an unnecessary  road! (See image below).

Furthermore, having both entrance to, as well as exit from Senakw via  Chestnut Street makes little sense from a traffic-flow perspective.  Chestnut Street feeds into already congested Greer, Creelman and Whyte  Avenues, which in turn all feed into super-congested Cypress Street.  Surely, since Senakw at its southern side, abuts Fir Street and 1st  Avenue, which have easy access to both the Granville and Burrard bridges  respectively, it makes better traffic-flow sense to have direct access to  Senakw from Chestnut Street and have a one-way road that connects with the  Senakw Phase 2, 3 & 4 road system, which exits at Fir Street and 1st Avenue? (See image below). 

This solution makes additional sense in that the commercial area of Fir  and 1st Avenue has virtually no traffic on weekends and evenings, while the  residential Kits Point area is jampacked with traffic seven days a week  due to its proximity to the Museums, Marina, Academy of Music, Bard on the  Beach, and it being for frequented by marathoners, tourists, cyclists,  rollerbladers, beach goers, and dog-walkers. 

Also, a road through Vanier Park, will sandwich the three Senakw Phase 1 towers between the Burrard Bridge in the south and the road in the north.  This cuts off the residents of Senakw from direct access to Vanier Park.  If the access road were to be located on the south of the towers, adjacent to the Burrard Bridge, Senakw Phase 1 residents would have un-fettered  access to Vanier Park. (See image below).

So why has this come about? 

Arrogance. By the City of Vancouver. Given that Senakw is the largest  development of its kind in North America, the fact that the City  negotiated a Services Agreement in secret with the Senakw developers, and  did not bring neighbourhood voices into the discussion, is an example of  unnecessary and unfortunate arrogance. 

Abdication of Responsibility. By the Parks Board. While it is  acknowledged that Vancouver is in dire need of rental units, it is also in  need of park space, especially for the 10,000 new residents of Senakw. With  a stated mission to protect park space, surely what has come about is an  abdication of the Parks Board’s responsibility. 

Lack of Accountability. By the Federal Government. It should be noted  that reparations of $92.5 million and the establishment of the Senakw Reserve were part of a Settlement Agreement reached in 2000 between the Government and the Squamish Nation, by which the Nation agreed not to  pursue a claim to Vanier Park.

The point is that the Government paid all this  money to settle the claims and to preserve Vanier Park for the public  and there should be some finality to that. Which begs the question:  where is the accountability for the use of Taxpayer funds?

For these reasons, I have organized a Rally to Save Vanier Park, at  2:00pm, Saturday 17th September, 1300 block of Chestnut St, Vanier Park South.

Last modified: September 13, 2022

3 Responses to " The Senakw Boondoggle: Opinion by Jeremy Braude "

  1. Marcia DuMont-Beekil says:

    I lived for many years on the corner of Chestnut and Greer. You are misrepresenting the land to be converted to a street to the new development. 1. Greer and Chestnut are noe congested streets only since the city greatly enlarged the four corner curb areas..eliminating 6 parking areas and making it almost impossible for even ambulances to turn onto Greer from Chestnut. A neighbor who worked for the city was forced to work on this project, and was sickened by it. 2. The gravel walkway leading from Chestnut behind the music school was, for years, a tented city for both the homeless and mentally unstable…never as the green parkland you describe. We lived for years with human feces on the trail. Finally, shrubs were cut back….people moved somewhere…certainly not into decent housing) and the dog walkers of Kits Point (I was one) had a bit better gravel road. Kits Point residents need to know they are not royalty, good housing is needed…the area will still be lovely, just not as exclusive. Your rally efforts could best be used to help the homeless.

  2. kits says:

    It is unnecessary to build a new road through Vanier park. There is already a road from west 1st avenue. There is a traffic light at 1st and Burrard to allow traffic to turn left from Burrard or turn right from w.1st.

    The could put an underground entrance from chestnut street on their property. Chestnut should be returned to a two way street from Cornwall to reduce traffic on Cypress street. Vanier park is a destination that needs better access from downtown.