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Jericho Lands proposal inches forward as Vancouver council approves guiding vision

An Indigenous-led proposal for a major development on Vancouver’s west side hit a major milestone Wednesday, with city councillors voting to approve the Jericho Lands Policy Statement.

The document lays out a guiding vision for development of the 90-acre site, a former military installation across 4th Avenue from Jericho Beach Park.

The plan, envisioned to be completed in phases over 25 to 30 years, envisions 13,000 new homes for 24,000 people in multiple buildings ranging from four to 49-storeys tall. The policy proposal describes the development as a “high-density, mixed-used and car-light community centred on rapid transit.”

The project is a partnership between the MST Development Corporation and the Canada Lands Company (CLC), a federal Crown corporation. The MST Development Corporation is the for-profit development arm of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation).

The project has faced concerted opposition from organized neighbourhood residents, many of whom turned out to speak against the project Wednesday.

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Opponents criticize the scale and density of the buildings along with concerns about the effects on traffic, transportation and infrastructure in the area. They have questioned the lack of a hydrogeological study ahead of planning.

City staff told the hearing Wednesday that substantive hydrogeological and environmental studies will be completed prior to Phase 1 rezoning, and that details of site planning could be changed if the findings deemed necessary.

The approved policy statement envisions the extension of the under-construction Broadway subway line all the way to UBC, and includes a proposed station at the heart of the development. While TransLink has listed that extension as a priority, no senior levels of government have committed funding to the multi-billion-dollar project.

The document approved Wednesday acknowledges that if the extension is not green-lit in the near term, the plan would need to be reviewed.

“This would include adjusting the plan to ensure that development does not exceed the capacity of the site and surrounding movement network,” it states.

The policy statement approved Wednesday also lays out a vision for 2,600 units of social housing, nearly 500 child-care spaces, 20 acres of park space and a community centre.

The approval of the policy statement clears the way for city staff to begin the more detailed work of an Official Development Plan and to begin working with the MST-CLC partnership on rezoning for the first phase of the project.

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