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British Columbia Western Canada: First Nation-owned housing development to transform part of Vancouver

Good morning! Wendy Cox here in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver has gone through several notable growth spurts over the years.

One was in the 1970s when the South False Creek area began developing around Granville Island, bringing along co-op and non-profit rental housing and garnering Vancouver international attention for its then-unique move toward building residential neighbourhoods in or near downtown.

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Developments in the 1990s on the Expo Lands and the condo towers and waterfront walkways in the River District along the Fraser River in the city’s southeast in the 2000s transformed former industrial land into livable, walkable communities.

Soon, some of the most established and well-heeled neighbourhoods, communities with popular beaches and abundant green space, will undergo a significantly different transformation through the development of land previously off-limits.

As Frances Bula wrote this week, the changes will challenge Vancouver’s civic politicians and residents, because these won’t be the usual private-sector developments. They’ll be planned and built by Indigenous groups.

“On top of city zoning matters and the current fierce debate over housing solutions among residents, Vancouver will confront issues of reconciliation, atonement for historical wrongs and a different set of values, including the Indigenous nations’ obligations to their own members,” Frances writes.

The Squamish Nation plans to develop a 4.5-hectare site at the south end of the Burrard Bridge that many Vancouver residents may have been surprised to learn is part of the Squamish Nation’s reserve.

Further up the shoreline, toward the University of British Columbia, the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations are partnering for a development on 36.5 hectares of land acquired from the federal government on the Jericho Lands in Point Grey.

Both developments will likely add thousands of housing units to the neighbourhoods, adding weight to the case for a subway through the west side, and changing the demographics of this part of the city.

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Indigenous leaders involved in the projects are aware they will be watched carefully, both with hope and apprehension.

"There will be a preconceived notion of what will happen because of what people say about Indigenous people being keepers of the land,” says Wade Grant, a former Musqueam councillor who is familiar with Musqueam real estate plans on both city and university-endowment lands.

“We do want to do it in a different way and we don’t want to run roughshod over the land, but people also need to recognize that these lands were taken away from us and we were never able to benefit. [The developments now are] a small price to pay to lift up those communities that have been in the shadow of the city.”

This is the Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here. This is a new project and we’ll be experimenting as we go, so let us know what you think.

Around the West

ALBERTA ELECTION: United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney will be sworn in as premier on April 30 – and then the real fights begin. From Justin Trudeau to environmentalists to Quebec, Mr. Kenney campaigned on championing Alberta’s interests by confronting its opponents. James Keller and Justin Giovannetti break down those fights and assess the risks. For more about what happens now that Alberta’s election is over, read our explainer.

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OPIOIDS: The overdose crisis that has killed thousands of Canadians has also created a new problem for mourning those victims: few of those victims have wills or plans for what they want to happen next. Justine Hunter looks at how a group of front-line workers and palliative-care experts have joined forces in Victoria to help those most at risk of an untimely death to make effective end-of-life plans.

DRUG TESTING: The family of a teen who died of an overdose at a music festival in Kelowna, B.C., are calling for increased drug checking and such events.

MADE BY BRAD: Jana G. Pruden has the story of Brad Fremmerlid, an Alberta man with autism whose aptitude for building furniture gave his dad an idea for a business – and turned him into a inspiration for families around the world. Once you’re finished reading, check out the lovely video feature at the end.

RAIL SAFETY: The Transportation Safety Board is urging the federal government to review the way brakes are inspected and maintained after a fatal derailment near Field, B.C. Three crew members were killed in February when a 112-car grain train rolled away after having made an emergency halt on a steep grade. TSB investigators said no handbrakes were set on the rail cars.

BANFF AVALANCHE: A celebrated Austrian climber is among three people who were caught in an avalanche in Banff National Park. The family of David Lama says he had “lived his dream,” as hopes faded that he and two other top climbers survived.

ELIZABETH MAY: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is set to be married on Monday – which, not coincidentally, is Earth Day – with an environmentally conscious wedding in Victoria. Katrina Onstad asked Ms. May about a romance that stated at a Green Party convention and how she’s balanced planning a wedding with obvious concerns about events that can be enormously wasteful.

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Opinion

David Anderson on a tanker ban off B.C.: “Forty-eight years of experience has shown that the B.C. tanker ban has not soured foreign-investor attitudes nor hamstrung the development of Canada’s petroleum industry. To suggest that legislating this existing ban would have such negative consequences defies both experience and logic.”

Trevor Tombe on the economic reality facing Jason Kenney: “There are many options: The province could use resource revenues to repay debt; reform tax rates and structures to boost growth and stabilize revenue; change health-care and social programs to lower costs and improve outcomes; negotiate larger federal transfers as health-care costs grow here and elsewhere. All are easier said than done.”

Konrad Yakabuski on Alberta’s collision course with Quebec: “Mr. Legault has an uncanny knack for pouring salt on Albertans’ wounds. His summary dismissal of Mr. Kenney’s election-night overtures – insisting there was “no social licence” for a new oil pipeline through Quebec – only served to confirm the narrative that Mr. Kenney has constructed.”

Gary Mason on Trans Mountain: "Activists that had for years targeted the oil sands and Alberta went mostly quiet during Ms. Notley’s reign, a nod to the measures she introduced to help clean up the province’s tawdry environmental record. If Mr. Kenney moves to revoke many of those same actions, the war with environmentalists will begin anew. "

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