Heather Lands Reach A Magical Milestone As Multi-nationalism Wins Over The Urban Design Panel

4949-5255 Heather St and 657 W 37th Ave (Heather Lands)
Admittedly, spelling and grammar are not my strong points, so if not for Hannah’s efforts, my posts would be rather messy. Unfortunately, neither of us were taught the languages of our host nations, so we couldn’t capture the presentation that started the Urban Design Panel’s review of the Heather Lands. Nonetheless, I could understand this was a “momentous” moment, even if it was weird to hear a condensed version of the Spirit of Tsleil (sp?) sung over Zoom.

There is no denying the MST Partnership’s 2014 purchase of the lands the RCMP E Division left in 2013 marked a huge evolution in their role as its caretakers. That said, this rezoning application only slightly differs from the policy statement that guides it, and these updates mostly result from an issues report passed by city council in 2018. That’s led the site’s FSR to be increased from 2.3 to 2.5, as it now included 100 Moderate Income Rental Homes.

That type of housing might increase as these six precincts move forward in five phases over the next 10 – 15 years, since creating affordable home ownership is proving more challenging than expected. That disappointed one panellist, who raised the need for purchasable housing so often, I can’t help but wonder if they hoped to live here themselves one day. In contrast, the 100 year old (pg 18) Fairmount Building, which was gutted internally by the RCMP, has no future here.

The fate of that structure was never discussed by the panel, but if a place to move it isn’t found, this project’s Community Amenity Contributions will pay for its demolition. This group’s focus was on what this “first of its kind” partnership between these First Nations, and the Canadian Government could achieve. They praised it as a milestone for our city and country, with one expressing it set a model for development in this part of the world.

This person has lived in the area for decades, but was glad to see this re-imagining of the urban environment, and gave it their unequivocal support. These thoughts were echoed by their peers who were simply happy this proposal existed, with one noting they had never seen something so magical, and imbued with the values of our host nations, in their 20 years of practice. The only disappointment was that the cultural centre wasn’t included in an earlier stage.

Others cautioned that long timeline meant the environmental goals should evolve from sustainability to regenerative design, noting LEED Goal was once considered punitive, but is now a joke. The future weighed heavily in these discussions, as the city was urged to consider how the two blocks south of this site could act as connection to the Oakridge Centre. In fact, they suggested it could help remedy one of the Cambie Corridor Plan’s biggest mistakes, the lack of retail stores.

To avoid repeating that failure here, they stressed that use should be spread across this 21 acre site rather than concentrated in a central location. Some hoped the towers that framed that meeting area could be taller, though more office and open spaces have already been added. Still, they hoped this community edges could be better integrated into the surrounding areas, and were saddened to learn the planned 33rd Avenue Canada Line station lacks a fixed timeline.

However, a new Conseil Scolaire Francophone school is included, but its development permit and design will be handled by a separate team. That took a step closer to reality as, despite debating the best precincts to call home, the panel unanimously approved a motion of support for this project. The prayer song by the late Chef Dan George ended this roughly two hour meeting, yet your comments can shape this decades long story if you leave them here.

You can check out our Instagram for more photos of this wider site here, or take a more detailed look at each of these precincts here.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Partnership – MST Development Corporation, and Canada Lands Company
Architects – DIALOG
Landscape Architects – DIALOG

4 thoughts on “Heather Lands Reach A Magical Milestone As Multi-nationalism Wins Over The Urban Design Panel

Add yours

  1. I tried to find the open house panels on the city website but no luck. Everything posted is from 2018 or earlier except a fly-through animation that obscures all the details.

    I’m concerned about the Heather St bike way which my family uses all the time. The renders seem to show a weird jog on Heather St in the centre of the site, which never works well for bike riders. Are there detailed info boards somewhere I can’t find them?

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    1. There’s certainly a lot of of information to sift through for these large sites, so it can be hard for anyone to find a specific page or two. That said, what you’re looking for can be found in the applicant boards under the Virtual Open House materials section.

      The clearest example of how the protected bike lanes will be routed can be seen on page 35 at the link below.

      Click to access heather-lands-rezoning-applicant-open-house-boards.pdf

      I assume the jog you’re referring to is the intersection where Heather Street ends at West 35th Avenue? If that’s the case, then you might be comforted to learn that the bike path actually continues along a pedestrian path through the park until it rejoins Heather Street at West 37th Avenue. Hopefully this helps 🙂

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