The largest-ever loan in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s history has been awarded to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw’s (Squamish Nation) Sen̓áḵw residential and commercial development project in Kitsilano, B.C., across False Creek from downtown Vancouver.
The funding was announced Tuesday between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Khelsilem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Council chairperson, and will be provided as $1.4 billion in low-interest loans.
“This investment will build many needed rental apartments and generate long-term wealth for Squamish People across many generations. The wealth generated from these lands can then be recirculated into our local economies and communities to address our people’s urgent needs for affordable housing, education, and social services,” Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Council Chairperson Khelsilem said in a press release.
The project is also now the largest economic partnership between First Nations and the federal government to date.
The 11-tower development project will house more than 6,000 units, public green spaces and pavilions for retail and cultural programming, according to the Sen̓áḵw website.
“Today’s announcement not only builds more much-needed homes for Vancouverites, it supports the Squamish Nation’s vision for their traditional lands and their path to continued economic independence and self-determination,” Trudeau said in the press release for the announcement.
The Sen̓áḵw project will feature Coast Salish architecture and design across the 10-acre site and aims to be the largest net-zero residential project in Canada.
The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw reserve lands in Vancouver were seized for a series of colonial development projects that benefitted settlers for more than a century, according to a video posted on the Sen̓áḵw website. Among the developments were the Burrard Bridge and railway right-of-way, a lumber mill and a Second World War-era training and equipment depot.
However, in 2003, the courts returned a portion of land back to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, partially due to the fact it was unceded, meaning no treaties were signed to negotiate land claims or settlements. The land returned to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw will be used for the Sen̓áḵw development.
The development’s name was chosen to honour an ancestral village once situated at the head of the False Creek Inlet.
Matteo Cimellaro / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer