First step towards redevelopment of RCMP campus underway

Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh partnered with Canada Lands Co.

The Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations have partnered with Canada Lands Co. are offering 5255 Heather and 657 West 37th Avenue (pictured) which contain a total 235,000 square feet | Google

Big changes could be coming to the former RCMP campus near Queen Elizabeth Park.

A federal Crown corporation and three area First Nations kicked off a year-and-a-half policy planning process with private events September 15 and 18 and will make a public announcement on September 24 at the Heather Lands site from noon to 3 p.m.

Canada Lands Co. (CLC), chiefs from the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation and a member of the Vision Vancouver majority city council will host the public launch of the process beginning at noon.

City council voted in July to accept $1.1 million from CLC to pay for staff time and consultants to devise a plan for the 21-acre site, which was the RCMP’s regional headquarters for British Columbia until 2013 when E Division and its 1,500 officers and civilian employees moved to a new $1 billion complex in Surrey.

The so-called Fairmont site includes the historic 1920-built Fairmont Academy and two 1950s office buildings.

The report to the July 26 city council meeting said a 2008 policy set a four-storey limit as a “base case” for site planning and rezoning.

“Additional options with increased densities and heights can be created and assessed in the course of the planning work, subject to considerable public consultation,” the report said.

The same report said the lands are “well suited for a range of household types, and as opportunities to create housing suitable for families with children in the city are limited, staff will seek to explore redevelopment options that optimize ground-oriented family housing (including two- and three-bedroom units).”

The Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, which comprise the MST Partnership, acquired the $237 million, 52-acre federal Jericho Lands in Point Grey in 2014 and 38 acres of the adjoining provincial lands last April. The provincial parcel was worth $480 million, but the First Nations were given $96 million by Victoria and a seven-year loan at 2% interest to take over the land in a fee-simple deal.

Squamish Nation Chief Ian Campbell told band members that the long-term goal is to rezone the property for high-density townhouses and towers.

While the Heather Lands process unfolds, MST and CLC are hoping to earn lease revenue from the two office buildings. Through Jones Lang LaSalle, they are offering 5255 Heather Street and 657 West 37th Avenue, which contain a total 235,000 square feet. The site is between the King Edward and Oakridge Canada Line stations, just west of Cambie.