Heather Lands Rezoning
Reconciliation and precedent-setting urban design
Urban Planning & Policy
Heather Lands, an urban design and rezoning project of a 21-acre site, is centrally located in Vancouver, BC on unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh Nations (MST). The site once heavily forested was used by MST ancestors as hunting and gathering grounds and more recently the RCMP Division E Headquarters. An unprecedented joint venture partnership between Canada Lands Company and the MST initiated this project, which is rooted in the processes of reconciliation. The MST Nations, who have occupied these territories since time immemorial, will own the lands in perpetuity. The project vision is to recognize the traditions, culture and values of the MST and to create a sustainable new neighbourhood that will be a place to welcome and connect all people for generations to come.
The stories, knowledge, and wisdom shared by members of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations communities during rezoning engagement processes were and continue to be fundamental to the success of this project. The voices of the MST people are a central component of ‘The Heather Lands Cultural Interpretive Plan’ (CIP). The CIP, a living document, is the source of inspiration and insight for the development and will continue to inform the development of these lands for years to come. The framework of the CIP is based on the four elements of life – Earth, Water, Fire and Wind and the values of the MST. The MST values are codified into the project’s four design principles – Welcoming to All, We’re Taught to Know Where We Came From, Everything is Connected and Being In Touch the Light, Weather, Seasons, and Land.
All aspects of the design, including: ecology, landscape, parks and open spaces, pedestrian and bicycle networks, mobility, public art, food systems, water management, waste management, land uses, housing, building and architectural character, lighting, energy systems, resilient design elements, and more are informed by the CIP. When complete, the development will include approximately 2,600 residential units, including a range of affordable housing options, commercial spaces including office and retail, a childcare centre, a school, an MST cultural centre and over 4 acres of public space.
- Vancouver, BC
- Canada Lands Company and MST Development Corporation
Bunt & Associates
Kerr Wood Leidal Associates
Get the Picture
MTD – Matthew Thomson Design
- DIALOG Services
Planning & Urban Design
Drawing and re-drawing
The team spent months drawing and re-drawing plans for the site, to ensure the various elements worked in harmony.
Engagement and collaboration
Extensive engagement and collaboration with representatives of the three First Nations groups shaped the broad design concepts for the site.
The site is shaped by modern roadways, as well as a traditional trail that runs north/south. There will also be a cultural centre on site, which will showcase the first inhabitants of these lands.
There will be 2,600 residential units on the site, including 540 units of social housing. Market and subsidized units will be spread over 18 buildings, with a maximum height of 28 storeys.
Part of Cambie Corridor
Taller buildings will be on the east side of the site, and will take guidance from the City of Vancouver’s Cambie Corridor development plan. This will be one of five neighbourhood-sized developments.
There will be extensive green space within the Heather Lands, including an interpretive forest trail, public parks, open public space, and private residential gardens.
Active and integrated site
The site will be a fully integrated neighbourhood, with commercial residential, and retail uses, as well as daycare, cultural centre and numerous connections to nature.
Plazas in the new development, including this one looking north from Heather Street, will incorporate First Nations art and sculpture from Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh artists.
Parks and waterways
The site will feature extensive green spaces interwoven into the developments. This view, looking northwest, illustrates the design intent from a landscape architecture perspective.
Homes in the village
Residences in the Heather Lands, particularly on the north end of the site, will be part of a vibrant village that brings the development to life.
Streets cross the street
The rezoning plan has neighbourhood streets, including W 35th St. and Baillie St., interacting with the site. A new commercial street will also be created.
Homes in the forest
Many of the homes that will make up the Heather Lands development will be close to parks and wooded areas, providing a pastoral setting for residents.
Deana Grinnell, Canada Lands Company & Brennan Cook, MST Development Corp.
The Heather Lands Rezoning project demonstrates how city building can be an act of collaboration and of reconciliation that enhances the cultural, spiritual and community value of the built environment we share.