Largest Indigenous Land Development In Canadian History Soon To Become A Reality
At a groundbreaking ceremony last month, the Federal government provided a $1.4 billion loan to the Squamish Nation to develop their 10.5 acres of vacant land underneath the South end of the Burrard Street bridge. 6,000 rental units are to be constructed out of which one fifth will be termed as affordable rental to be offered at below market rates.
The development is being financed by a low interest loan funded through the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) which will finance the first 2 phases of the project. This ambitious development has been on the drawing board for many years, and finally, the project is coming into fruition.
It is estimated that the 1,200 homes and 6,000 rental units spread over 11 towers will generate an estimated long-term return of over $10 billion to the Squamish Nation. The wealth that is generated from this land will help support the aspirations, dreams, and hopes of the Squamish people.
There is however concern by the local population on the strain that this development will impose on the local infrastructure, and the transportation options offered to the roughly 9,000 people who will eventually inhabit this development.
The Squamish Nation is earmarking up to $50 million on road upgrades, but there is consensus that a ferry or streetcar service will likely be required to ease the burden.
The land in question is land that was forcibly expropriated from the Squamish Nation from the 1880s to 1913, for settler development. In the 70’s the leaders of the Squamish Nation took the federal government to court demanding its return. However only 10.5 acres of the original 80 acres was returned in an out of court settlement in 2003.
“We as leaders in the generation we live in could not do the work that we have upon us if it wasn’t for the work of the previous generations who did the work for us to get to this point,” said the Squamish Council Chairperson Khelsilem.
Prime Minister Trudeau commented that, “This investment, this creation of thousands upon thousands of new affordable rental units – a number of them low income rental units – is going to make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of families, who will suddenly have the stability, the opportunity, the proximity to work.”
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