Purpose built retiree city under planning consideration

LONDON: A purpose built retiree city is being considered for one of the least developed parts of the city.

The City of Vancouver is seeking feedback on bold, but preliminary ideas for the Jericho Lands, 90 acres in the city’s West Point Grey area that is owned and will be developed by three Indigenous Nations and a federal Crown corp.

After years of consultation and anticipation over the future of the prime site, a sketch of what could be built and what it might look like was presented Monday. It showed the building of 10 million square feet of floor area with three, tall, condo towers of up to 38-storeys and some 10,000 new homes in one of the most expensive and least-developed parts of the city, near the University of B.C. and overlooking Jericho Beach Park.

By comparison, the expansive Oakridge Centre redevelopment at 41st Avenue and Cambie Street is building 5.5 million square feet in floor area and about 2,330 new homes.

The Jericho project is a partnership between MST Development Corp., which is run by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, and Canada Lands Co.

“It is still an early stage of the overall development process,” said Elisa Campbell, who is leading the project for CLC and working with MST.

The public has until Nov. 14 to comment on two options, named “Eagle” and “Weave,” which each offer different design features. Both include dozens of shorter buildings, community centres, parkland and the potential for a SkyTrain station.

“What I like about it is we’re not saying, ‘This is what is going to be done on the site.’ We’re saying, ‘Here’s two examples of what it could be like. We really want to hear from you,’ ” said Campbell.

She added: “Our work with the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh is really at the core of this and when you listen to their culture, their tradition, it’s fascinating to then take some of those stories and apply it to this development.”

West Point Grey is currently home to about 13,000 residents. The Jericho lands house a former army garrison, some low-rise homes rented to military families and an independent school.

“I think they were all shocked at the size of the (proposed) development,” said Murray Hendren, president of the strata for Mayfair House condo, which is on Highbury Street across from the Jericho Lands.

He’s also a member of the West Point Grey Residents Association but said he was speaking about his own, initial feelings and those of others in his building.

“It’s just completely out-of-context with the rest of West Point Grey. It’s not to say, some time in the future, the whole city isn’t going to be like this and there would be a different standard,” Hendren said.

Campbell said, “We’ve heard really positive response to the concept of using this site as an example of how to, through development, address reconciliation, how to address the climate emergency and so overall, we’ve been really happy with the positive tone. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people who are concerned about transformation because transformation can be hard.”

The Jericho Lands development must comply with city policies and regulations unlike the Senakw development that the Squamish Nation is planning near the Burrard Bridge, which is on reserve land.

MST bought the part of Jericho Lands owned by the B.C. government, a 39-acre site, in 2016 for $480 million. MST had previously partnered with Canada Lands to buy a 52-acre portion owned by the federal government in 2014 for $237 million.