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Musqueam picks Polygon to begin work on massive residential development near UBC

The project, known as ‘Lelem,’ will be home to 2,500 residents
A model of the Musqueam Indian Band’s project near UBC. Photo Dan Toulgoet
A model of the Musqueam Indian Band’s project near UBC. Photo Dan Toulgoet

The Musqueam Indian Band has chosen Polygon as the developer for the first phase of a massive residential development that will spread over more than 21 acres of its own land near the University of British Columbia.

The band announced Thursday that Polygon will work alongside the band’s economic development arm — the Musqueam Capital Corporation — which will oversee the project and be responsible for building roads, services and parks.

The development, which includes four 18-storey highrises, several rows of townhouses and mid-rise apartment buildings, has also been given a name — Lelem, which means home in the Musqueam language.

The band’s choice of Polygon was based on its “leadership in design and development across all of their projects,” said Chief Wayne Sparrow in a news release. The band has said Musqueam history and art will be featured in the development.

Polygon’s chairman, Michael Audain, has a strong connection to First Nations and he features many works of artists in his art gallery in Whistler. Audain was also behind the commissioning of the "reconciliation pole" at UBC, which was carved by Haida artist James Hart and his apprentices.The pole was raised in April on the main mall of the campus.

As the Courier reported earlier this year, the band made history in February in breaking ground on the project. That’s because it was the first time in the histories of the city and University Endowment Lands that a First Nation was behind a major development on its own land in Vancouver.

The provincial government gave the project the green light last fall after an extensive process that included public meetings. Vancouver city council did not have a say in the project because the endowment lands are the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

The land, which runs along University Boulevard and is bounded by Acadia Road, Toronto Road and Ortona Avenue, was returned to the band in 2008 by the provincial government as part of a reconciliation package. The nearby University Golf Course lands and the land on which the River Rock Casino was built in Richmond were included in the deal.

The housing planned for the development will create space for an estimated 2,500 residents, who will have access to a community centre, child care facility, a grocery store, restaurants, a public plaza, a large park and wetlands area. “Affordable workforce housing” and a mix of rental units will also be built into the project.

Last year, the Courier took a detailed look at the Musqueam's foray into economic development and its agreement to work with Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations on future projects. You can read it here.


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