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First Nation launches 6,000 homes in Vancouver

December 16, 2019

The 827 members of the Squamish First Nation voted December 10 to launch the largest residential development in Vancouver—expected to include the tallest residential towers in the city.
Being built on First Nations reserve land, the 6,000-unit project is exempt from provincial rent controls, the Foreign Home-Buyer Tax and the provincial speculation tax that governs all other homeowners in Metro Vancouver, a spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Finance confirmed.
It also unlinked from Vancouver taxes, planning and development regulations.
The Sena?w project, as it is known, is on 11.7 acres of Squamish Nation land in the city’s Kitsilano neighbourhood. Plans call for a mix of market rental housing  and from 1,500 to 2,000 condominiums.
The site was the ancestral village of the Squamish Nation. Squamish band members were forcibly removed in 1913 and their homes were burned.
The Nation reclaimed the land in 2003 after the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that the land should be returned to the band.
The $3 billion development, considered the largest development on First Nations land in B.C. and one of the largest in Canada, will be built based on  a 50-50 agreement with Vancouver developer Westbank Development Corp.
To achieve 6,000 homes in 11 towers would require buildings of between 55 to 60 storeys based on comparison with other residential towers proposed but not yet built in Vancouver. Currently, the 307-suite Shangri La Hotel on Georgia Street, at 659 feet and 60 floors, is the tallest building in the city.
While the Squamish Nation is the local government authority overseeing the project and will collect property taxes from residents, it must contract for the provision of services.
A key element of the project is the lease agreement, which will run 120 years—enough time, said Toby Baker, senior operating officer for the Squamish Nation and CEO of Nch’kay Development Corp., to accommodate delays and shifting market conditions. Work on the site is expected to start in 2021 with a first-phase condominium tower.


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