British Columbia

Squamish Nation plans large housing development at south end of Burrard Bridge

“There's been an abundance of wealth created within Vancouver … and so we want to get into that as well and create those opportunities for ourselves," Squamish Nation councillor says.

First Nation could add up to 3,000 housing units on its land in Kitsilano

The Squamish Nation is proposing to build 3,000 units of housing on land it controls at the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

The Squamish Nation is planning a massive housing development that could change the face of Kitsilano and False Creek.

The project could see as many as 3,000 units built on Squamish Nation land at the south end of the Burrard Bridge, according to Squamish council member Khelsilem, 

"Given its proximity and location, the nation has always identified it for economic development," Khilselim told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko, adding the money generated by the housing could fund social, education, health and housing programs for the nation's members.

"It's an opportunity to provide housing for the City of Vancouver but also to change the dynamic of the Squamish Nation and perhaps the history for the next 150 years."

According to a statement from the City of Vancouver, Squamish Nation does not need approval from city council to redevelop the area. 

A topographical map of the city of Vancouver, which shows Vanier Park to the north of Burrard Bridge. A section of the park, and a section south of the bridge, are highlighted as 'Squamish Nation lands'.
Diagram of Squamish Nation land around the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge. (City of Vancouver)

Khilselim said the site is federal land owned by the Squamish Nation.

"The Squamish Nation Council is actually the government in charge of these lands."

The City of Vancouver says the Squamish Nation would not be required to get city approval to redevelop the site. (Daniel Beauparlant/CBC)

The irregularly shaped parcel of land stretches north from Chestnut Street along the the west side of the Burrard Bridge to the edge of False Creek, and eastward toward 1st Avenue along the south side of Pennyfarthing Drive. 

Once constructed, the project could lead to changes in the neighbourhood, but Khilselim said the goal is to work with the community as the project moves ahead.

"We'll be engaging our own members as well as members of the public in that process to really create something that I think everybody can be excited about," he said.

Khilselim said the project will create badly needed rental housing in the region and he hopes it could connect to the transit system — possibly through light rail.

"I think the Squamish people very much understand what it means to have densification happen within our home communities," he said.

"There's been an abundance of wealth created within Vancouver … and so we want to get into that as well and create those opportunities for ourselves."

He said the next step would be to request proposals from developers.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast