City’s agreement with Squamish First Nation soon to be put to the test

The new Memorandum of Understanding signed in May between Mayor Gregor Robertson and Chief Gibby Jacob, of the Squamish First Nation, will be tested in action in the coming months as the Squamish accelerate plans to develop land they own at the south end of the Burrard Bridge.

The land, part of the original site of a Squamish village named Senauq, was recovered by the Squamish more than a decade ago after lengthy litigation. It had been expropriated before the First World War. Squamish villagers were loaded onto a barge and shipped to Burrard Inlet, their homes burned behind them.

But council has learned that the odd-shaped parcel, which once provided a “wye” where trains crossing False Creek could be turned around, will be developed in phases, with the first parcel moving through a planning process in the coming months. That process will be directed by the Squamish First Nation but parallel the city’s usual procedures, a unique arrangement the SFN has already used for projects as complex as Park Royal in West Vancouver.