The Squamish First Nation’s extensive plans to build upon their land in Vancouver, Canada, have doubled since an initial announcement in April. According to a report by the Vancouver Sun, a new proposal for 6,000 units across 11 towers within the 500-acre land parcel, with the goal of coming in under the minimum parking requirements. This marks a major shift from the previous proposal, which originally only showed a two-tower development with 3,000 units. The project would radically transform the city’s Kitsilano neighborhood from a low-rise residential area to a dense urban center.

The project, named Senakw after the site it occupies, is expected to ring up at an estimated cost of 3 billion CAD. As Senakw is situated within the reserve boundaries of the Squamish band government, the Squamish Nation is not required to comply with the City of Vancouver’s regulations and processes regarding development, meaning construction could begin rather quickly and without the typical oversight delays. The Squamish planning group hopes to work closely with Vancouver city staff to construct a cohesive vision for the site.

Since the projected is not limited by municipal zoning, initial renderings by Vancouver’s Revery Architecture depict an unconventional vision. Located near the foot of the Burrard Bridge, the cluster of towers, with their undulating balconies and “fins” will make an instant mark on Vancouver’s skyline, with the tallest expected to top out at 56 stories. The towers will not make use of the podium design typical in projects of this scale, instead making 80 percent of the ground-level land available for public use and green space.

According to Squamish Councilor Khelsilem, the ideas for 6,000 “mostly rental” units stems from a critical shortage of rental housing in Vancouver. Moreover, the development holds importance in the context of the historical treatment of indigenous peoples in the Vancouver area: “This is a government doing a project that has a particular history of injustice in the removal of our ancestors in 1913, who were evicted by the provincial government at the request of the Vancouver parks board and the City of Vancouver,” said Councilor Khelsilem.

Final decisions for the project will be made in December when the band government votes in a referendum.

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