In February 2012, the Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council approved an Interim Work Plan for the Intergovernmental Relations, Natural Resources and Revenue (IRNR&R) department, which mandated a review of all projects in the Project Negotiation and Development (PND) unit. There are a number of projects on the table for the Nation to consider and move forward. The purpose of the review is to determine priority projects, and to ensure that the proper foundation is put into place to ensure the success of these projects. Some projects are currently on hold, pending the outcome of this review.
In terms of determining priorities for development projects, one of the most critical foundational issues is the negotiation of acceptable Service Agreements to support these projects. Any advancement in developments at Senakw, Chekwelp or Seymour Creek, for example, will first require the conclusion of successful service agreement negotiations. We continue to advance our planning for these projects while negotiations are underway.
A strong foundation for success also requires that we review and strengthen IRNR&R policies and procedures, such as planning, reporting and communications; structure and management of Departmental employees and consultants; financial management and financial controls; conflict of interest guidelines; and briefings and information management/security.
As a result of this review, we are developing and implementing a full suite of policies and procedures to ensure consistency and success. These policies and procedures include:
- A framework for setting priorities regarding PND projects;
- Financial Management Policy and Procedures;
- Major Development Projects – Policy and Procedures;
- Procurement Policy and Procedures;
- Real Estate Advisory Panel Policy and Procedures;
- Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Guidelines
These policies and procedures will further enhance accountability and transparency in the Department.
Current Projects (October 2012)
Many of the following projects will be subject to the priority-setting framework noted above, and most will be dependent upon the successful conclusion of service agreement negotiations. With all projects, we need to be cautious with Squamish Nation resources, and take the time necessary to undertake proper due diligence.
Taxation and Service Agreements
Currently a technical support team is working with various municipal governments to develop service agreements for Squamish Nation reserves. These agreements will ensure that the Nation will have water, sewer, garbage collection and fire protection Services into the future and will protect the Squamish Nation tax base. The service agreements are essential for future development on Squamish Nation reserves. Without clear agreements for the provision of services such as sewage, water and garbage collections, it will be difficult for the Nation to develop its property and maximize highest and best use of the property. Service agreements are an integral part of moving projects such as Senakw (at Kitsilano), Chekwelp (at Gibsons) and Seymour Reserve.
Since 1993 the Squamish Nation has been levying property taxes on its reserves to non native occupiers. This past fiscal year the Squamish Nation levied close to $7.9 million in property taxes on its reserves. Of the $7.9 million of property tax collected approximately $5 million was retained by the Nation to fund band programs and services after paying out costs to local governments for the services they provide under interim agreements. As the Nation continues to develop its reserves it can expect taxation revenues to increase each year. The Squamish Nation tax and assessment laws exempt on-reserve member housing.
After a careful review of the development environment and the development strategy for multiple towers on Senakw lands, it was determined that the Nation should seek an experienced development partner to help achieve development goals while mitigating risks to the Nation. Chiefs and Council provided a mandate to seek a development partner through a transparent Request for Proposals (RFP) process. In addition to the service agreement negotiations and the development policies and procedures that we are putting into place, we are developing the RFP process, and will be coming back to Membership in the fall of 2012 regarding the business terms for such an arrangement.
Demolition of the remaining homes on the site is complete, and the site is being maintained. We are currently reassessing our development strategy for Chekwelp in light of evolving market conditions. More information will be provided to membership pending the priority-setting exercise and the outcome of the service agreement negotiations.
Seymour Creek Redevelopment, North Vancouver
For some time, a retail shopping centre has been proposed for parcels of land on the northern portion of Seymour Creek IR No. 2. Since there are a number of new residential developments proposed and/or underway on lands close to the Seymour Reserve (across the highway on Fern Street, for example), additional work is now being undertaken to determine if it would be possible to add a residential component to the commercial retail units already proposed. This work could be used to revise the proposed development plan. Once this work is complete, an update will be provided to membership.
Waste to Energy, Port Mellon
This is a proposed partnership to develop, construct and operate a Waste to Energy facility on the Kaikalahun reserve in Port Mellon, BC. The partnership is also exploring a possible bid for Metro Vancouver’s Request for Proposals process, for the supply of solid waste solutions. The financial risk is to be assumed by development partners, who will also cover administration fees and the costs of suitable cultural, archaeological and environmental studies, as well as any costs related to land designation.
The Squamish Nation and their partner, Cheekeye River Developments Ltd., are planning to develop residential housing on approximately 1,000 acres in the Cheekeye Fan area, north of Squamish, in Brackendale. The area will be developed in phases, over the next 30 to 40 years. The development will also require mitigation measures for the potential debris flow from the Cheekeye River. Three Squamish reserves will be protected by these measures. We are currently working to complete the purchase of the lands, complete hazard mitigation works, and secure development approvals. Phase 1 Construction is likely to start in the spring of 2013.
Link to technical report for Cheekeye Fan Expert Review
The Squamish Nation holds a license for vertical hydroponic farming technology, which utilizes minimal land, water and energy resources to produce fresh, pesticide, herbicide and fungicide-free produce indoors. Although our previous partner ran into difficulties, and we decommissioned our research and development facility, we are currently undertaking due diligence and exploring ways to advance this project with the inventor of the technology (Vertical Designs Ltd.), at no costs or risk to the Nation.
Red Sky at Baxter Creek Development, Whistler
A portion of the Whistler Alpine Lands (acquired by the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations via the Olympic Joint Legacies Agreement) are being jointly developed with Bethel Lands Corporation. Squamish Nation has a 25% interest in the project based on the value of the land. The current plan calls for the construction of 41 units, however build out will depend on market conditions, which are not as strong as they were when the project was conceived. The show unit has been completed, and pre-sales have begun, which are looking positive.
On April 3, 2012, the Squamish Nation conducted a membership vote on the designation for leasing on portions of Mission I.R. #1 specifically (Mosquito Creek) and Capilano I.R. #5 (just off Lions Gate Bridge along Marine Drive). Although the results of the vote were positive, a majority of Members must vote (out of 2566 Eligible Voters, 1284 must cast a ballot) and a majority of those Members must vote yes (642) to designate these land for leasing. We did not reach this threshold, as the official results were as follows:
Designation for Leasing on Portions of Mission I.R #1:
- 2566 Eligible Voters
- 1040 Cast a Ballot
- 579 Voted Yes (55.7%)
- 454 Voted No
- 7 Spoiled Ballots
Designation for Leasing on Portions of Capilano I.R #5:
- 2566 Eligible Voters
- 1041 Cast a Ballot
- 579 Voted Yes (55.6%)
- 452 Voted No
- 10 Spoiled Ballots
The next step in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) designation process is a second vote from membership seeking approval of the land designation for leasing. Squamish Nation Chiefs and Council must send a request to the Minister of AANDC for a second vote on the land designation and the Minister must approve the request for a second vote.
Community Development Plan and the Family Dinner Meeting Process –
Anticipated Completion Fall, 2012
The Squamish Family Meeting process commenced in June, 2010 with two project launch meetings, with speakers and witnesses. During the meeting, the process for individual family dinner meetings was described and members were invited to begin scheduling their family meetings.
The purpose of this series of family dinner meetings was to provide an opportunity for each of the families of the Squamish Nation to review the Community Development Plan (CDP) which summarizes: Where we have come from?, Where will we live?, And how will we pay for it? Prior to the meetings, the Community Development Plan document together with a video was mailed out to all families.
Between October 2010 and February 2012, 18 family dinner meetings were held with about 600 participants. In addition to the meetings and compilation of notes of discussion, about 350 surveys have been completed. Preliminary survey results together with the results from the meetings, have been compiled into a first draft of the family meeting report and will be presented to Council and the community at two project completion meetings, anticipated for late fall, 2012.
Members spoke about a wide range of topics, interests, issues, and concerns. Preliminary review of member input on the CDP suggests the following broad categories were the focus of much of the discussion at the family dinner meetings:
First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA)
The Squamish Nation has been working to develop an improved land title system for a proposed residential development at the Park Royal Shopping Centre within the existing leased area. The tool being used to develop this system is the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act (FNCIDA). The purpose of using FNCIDA is to create a system of land title that is comparable to that which exists off-reserve. The approach contemplated through FNCIDA enables the Squamish Nation to ‘incorporate by reference’ certain aspects of the off-reserve system through federal regulations. The location of the proposed residential development is within the area that is currently leased to the Park Royal Shopping Centre and this is the only area that is presently being considered for FNCIDA application. The advantage of applying FNCIDA is to create a security of property title that mirrors the off-reserve system, which will help enhance the marketability and financial success of the proposed residential development.
Recent work on FNCIDA has included the process of finalizing agreements and regulations. These documents will need to be considered by Chiefs and Council. Once Chiefs and Council has had an opportunity to review, and if they approve, the regulations will need to go to Canada for final drafting, translation and enactment. If Council approves the package this fall, it is anticipated that the regulations could be enacted by the spring. There will be a period of time (one year) after the regulations are enacted and before they come into force. This will provide the BC Land Title and Survey Authority with the time to develop appropriate administrative processes and information technology to create a Squamish Nation Land Registry System.
Safety Improvement Project for Pedestrians and Cyclists at Welch and Bridge Roads
COMPLETED June 2012
The Safety Improvement Project at Welch and Bridge Roads has been completed. The construction phase of the project started in October 2011 and was substantially finished by early December. Landscape improvements were undertaken in the spring of 2012. Officially opened jointly by the Squamish Nation and District of West Vancouver on June 16, 2012, the completion of a multi -purpose, paved trail along Welch and Bridge provides a safe non-vehicle connection to community facilities on Capilano. With landscape improvements, the planting of an indigenous garden at the corner of Ikwikws and Welch with the help of members of the Harmony Gardens was also realized.
Thanks again to Nation members who participated in the Steering Committee by providing input to the project and to residents living along Welch Street and within the Capilano community who handled the inconvenience associated with a construction project.
Shewálh tl’a Stá7mes (show-wah-lh tlah Stah7-mis) (The path of Sta7mes)
Pedestrian Overpass at Stawamus
ANTICIPATED COMPLETION OCTOBER, 2012
Working with the BC Ministry of Transportation, the Nation has completed one of the provisions in the Sea to Sky Highway Agreement – the construction of a pedestrian overpass at Stawamus . Long-awaited by residents of Stawamus, the pedestrian overpass will provide convenient, efficient, and safe access across the highway and connect two parts of the reserve, severed by Highway 99. With a trail connection, this overpass will be particularly important for school children living on Stawamus to access Stawamus Elementary School. Scheduled for official opening in early October, 2012, the overpass is destined to become an iconic landmark along the sea to sky cultural journey, with the beautiful inlay work of Xwa Lack Tun (Rick Harry) featured within the bridge foundations.
Redevelopment at Park Royal South – Expanding the Village at Park Royal UNDER CONSTRUCTION, ANTICIPATED COMPLETION FALL, 2013
Most of the South Mall of Park Royal is located on Squamish Nation land and operates under the lease between Park Royal Shopping Centre Holdings Ltd. and the Squamish Nation. This includes the south retail mall, the Village at Park Royal, 100 Park Royal (the “black tower”), the storage facility, and several stand-alone restaurants including McDonald’s and the Keg.
To meet changing retail demand, Park Royal Shopping Center Holdings Ltd. is recreating a portion of the south mall as an expansion of the Village at Park Royal. This redevelopment is within the existing lease with respect to land use and density.
Over the past 18 months, representatives of Park Royal have been working with Nation staff and the Squamish Nation Advisory Design Panel (SN ADP) to ensure high quality urban design. (The SN ADP is a volunteer body of professional engineers, planners, architects and landscape architects with the mandate to review development applications on designated reserve lands, and make recommendations with the objective of promoting best possible urban design.)
The South Mall Village expansion includes:
- An additional 120,000 square feet of gross leasable area (about 25 new stores) with stand-alone stores and at ground level of the existing parking structure
- One to two stories of parking structure added to the existing parking structure to create additional parking
- Enhanced pedestrian experience, with a stronger connection to north mall and, east west, including public open spaces, landscape features, opportunities for Squamish art
As part of the redevelopment, two key locations have been identified for public art pieces that will complement the look and feel of the public realm and afford the opportunity for future programming and public gatherings. Through a call for proposals and an adjudicated process, there will be an opportunity for Squamish Nation artists to “tell a tale of place, culture, and time”.
Once completed, the Nation will benefit in an increase in the percentage rent that the Nation collects from the Shopping Center annually. The Nation will also collect increased taxes, as the assessed value of the property increases. The addition of new stores, may also provide employment opportunities for those members looking to work on reserve within the shopping center.
Provincial Land Survey Error, Squamish
The Province acknowledged a survey error dating back to 1917 at Cheakamus IR No. 11 in 2011. The result of the error was that some people built houses on a portion of Cheakamus that they believed to be off-reserve. The province has offered people living on these lots a settlement. Some took the settlement but some wanted to stay.
If the Nation does not want to move people out of their homes, there are two options to consider. One option would be for membership to designate these lands and lease them to the individuals that wish to stay. Alternatively, the Nation could work with the Province to identify alternate lands that could be acquired by the Nation (for example, lands adjacent to Waiwaikum). In both cases, a membership vote will be required.