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Kitsilano residents hope First Nation will consult them on massive development plan

Last Updated Apr 10, 2019 at 8:13 pm PDT

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Imagine three thousand apartment units built right by your neighbourhood.

Groups in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood are bracing for that reality as the Squamish Nation plans a massive development.

According to a Globe and Mail report, the First Nation plans to build as many as 3,000 apartments on prime land near Vanier Park.

Larry Benge with the West Kitsilano Residents Association won’t go so far as to say the First Nation is obliged to consult with people who live in the surrounding area, but he’s hopeful it will offer people in the area a chance to have their say about this project, which could introduce thousands of people to neighbourhoods just south of the Burrard Street Bridge.

“It should be the people of the City of Vancouver, the people that live around this project,” he says. “It needs a consultation process.”

Benge says he has few details about the actual plan, but adds an addition of 3,000-5,000 people in that area will require a lot of work to keep up with the influx.

“Work to make that kind of thing work with transit systems and everything else,” he says. “It’s a big project, and has to be looked at seriously.”

Putting himself in the Squamish Nation’s shoes, he understands the value of that land, and sees why it may be looking to develop it.

“We, on the other hand, are people who live here already in the surrounding neighbourhoods — not that the Squamish don’t live here already, they’ve been here for thousands of years. Hopefully there’ll be some back-and-forth in discussions of it and we’ll keep an eye on it and see what develops.”

Meanwhile, Jane McFadden with the Kitsilano 4th Avenue Business Association is hopeful of what this will means for local shops — but acknowledges not everyone will be thrilled.

“It will defeinitely increase traffic, which is great for our commercial high street area,” she says. “I’m sure that the residents down at Kits Point are not going to be happy with it as it’s such a gorgeous piece of land.”

She believes with affordability being a major topic of concern around the city, it’s “much needed” to have more rental options.

From the business side, McFadden says it’s difficult to run a small business, and adds many of the businesses she represents rely on local residents to keep afloat.

“It’s super important to have residents within the area to be able to support them.”

McFadden says while turnover is “good” in that area, and that any time a business vacates another moves in, she notes many have to deal with high taxes and large leases. These factors can make it hard for a small business to thrive and be successful.

“An influx of new people into the area, of course, that will increase business and sales. People will dine out, go shopping more in that area. So we’re excited about development within the area.”

She imagines there will be some opposition and concern from those living near the site which could be developed.