Community consultation is top priority for the Musqueam Indian Band as it moves ahead with a proposal to redevelop an area known as Block F, a 22-acre parcel situated on the University Endowment Lands (UEL).
The land — a free title, not a band reserve — was returned to Musqueam as part of the 2008 Reconciliation Agreement with the Province of British Columbia. Musqueam’s proposal is for a vibrant mixed-used neighbourhood that will include housing, retail space and a 120-room hotel. The goal is to create a place that Musqueam and UEL community members can be proud of.
A strong community of over one thousand members, the Musqueam Indian Band is a First Nations Government whose ancestors have descended from the cultural group known as the Coast Salish. The Musqueam people have a long and storied tradition in the area dating back between 3,500 and 4,000 years.
The Block F redevelopment is essentially about creating economic self-sufficiency for the Musqueam band. Having historically relied on outside sources to fund community programs, the band is located in a major metropolitan area and therefore does not have access to the same natural resources like mining or forestry as many other First Nations bands in Canada. Real estate development is one way that the band can create its own financial resources.
Musqueam will reach out and engage with the UEL community in a transparent manner, a point that Wade Grant, Musqueam councillor and economic development coordinator, reiterated when he talked to the Vancouver Sun about the project.
Grant said, “We want to make sure that people know that we want to be good neighbours. We want to ensure that we build good relationships with those people who live in and around that community.”
The phased development, which is expected take 10 to 13 years in total, is starting with its first community open house scheduled for December 6, 2012 between 5:00 and 9:00 pm at the University Golf Club. UEL community members can also join the conversation online through PlaceSpeak, a locally developed online interactive community. Actual building construction at Block F will likely not commence until 2014.
Musqueam are not applying to increase the currently permitted density, beyond including a small retail component and a 120-room hotel. The goal is to create a greater variety of housing forms and develop a mixed use neighbourhood.
Building heights are undetermined at this point. Musqueam would like to explore the idea of midrise buildings for this site and add variety to height and massing and to create more open spaces.
Finally, the adjacent Pacific Spirit Park will remain as park space — it is not part of this development. The University Golf Club is also unaffected.
For more information about the Block F development proposal, please visit the PlaceSpeak web page. The community can also reach out to Musqueam Band Councillor Wade Grant on Twitter with questions and comments.