June 5, 2019

Inspire Jericho Talks 3: Margie Ruddick on life-enhancing landscapes

At 7pm this evening, award-winning landscape designer and author Margie Ruddick presents the third of the Inspire Jericho Talks public lecture series, “Creating Great Neighbourhoods – Respect the Land“, hosted by Canada Lands Company, the MST Partnership, and the City of Vancouver. (Details and registration links follow.)

Ruddick is a New York-based landscape architect and author of Wild by Design, and winner of the National Design Award in 2013 for her pioneering, environmental approach to urban landscape design, “forging a design language that integrates ecology, urban planning, and culture”.

Her reputation for realizing the idea of nature in the city once actually resulted in a court fine for bringing a bit too much nature to her own backyard.

As the landscape design mind behind some of the east coast’s most treasured, natural public spaces, Ruddick is perhaps the perfect choice to talk about strategies for creating life-enhancing landscapes that combine ecological function with design, reflecting the aim of Inspire Jericho Talks — to share inspiration, spark ideas, and explore possibilities for the future of the Jericho Lands.

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The 90-acre Jericho Lands, a huge greenfield, sits in Vancouver’s West Point Grey neighbourhood. We all wonder what will rise there.

It’s mostly a former military garrison, now owned by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh Development Corporation, and the Canada Lands Company. You’ll find it amid some of the priciest real estate in Canada, featuring very low density, and very expensive single-family homes. The Lands offer potentially spectacular view sites and nearby ocean-front parks. (Read some background  on this site HERE, HERE, and HERE).

Amid the enormous pressure inherent in shepherding an allocation of this multi-billion dollar site, it’s hard to get much of a sense of the possible, ultimate outcome; a veritable bonanza of opportunities to reshape an entire community. What’s to come — cheesy car-centric suburb? A forest of high rises, ripe for speculators? A complete community for average humans — what?

But maybe something beyond platitudes and vague statements is slowly emerging.

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Local First Nations are focussing on long-term economic independence via a series of big-money property developments in the Vancouver area.

First: Mike Howell reports in the Vancouver Courier that the Musqueam FN has reached a milestone on its UBC project.  Its scale, look and feel give hints about the “big one” — Jericho.

The provincial government is about to give the 1,300-member band the green light to build a massive residential development on its land in the University Endowment Lands  . . .     The project includes four 18-storey highrises, several rows of townhouses and mid-rise apartment buildings, a community centre, a childcare facility, commercial space for a grocery store and restaurants, a public plaza, a large park and wetlands area. All of it will be spread over 21.4 acres of what is now forest along University Boulevard, bounded by Acadia Road, Toronto Road and Ortona Avenue.

The Musqueam FN has hired former ban CFO Stephen Lee and former CLC employee Doug Avis to head up the Musqueam Capital Corporation, which offloads land development and other business activities from the band council.

[Chief] Sparrow, [Operations Manager] Mearns, Lee and Avis made it clear the end goal of the projects is to create opportunities for Musqueam’s young people and inspire them to pursue higher learning and take advantage of what’s in front of them. Lee and Avis are not Musqueam members but say they hope one day to be replaced by band members.
“We’ll make money on the developments, there’s no doubt about it,” Mearns said. “But that’s not really where the big value will come from. It’s how we raise the entire community capacity as a result of these projects and develop people to not only get careers as carpenters, plumbers, planners, engineers, doctors, lawyers — whatever — but it’s also to have people go out and develop their own businesses and get their own contracts.”

The Courier article is a fascinating journey along a trail that is shameful at times and hopeful at others.

Second: the 21-acre (8.5 hectare) Heather Lands, involving three FN and the Canada Lands Company (CLC).  The first open house will be tomorrow, Saturday Sept 24, 12:00 to 3 pm. Details HERE.  City of Vancouver launch events are to be Oct 15 and 17.
Apparently, the Heather Lands are also known as “Fairmont Lands”. Who knew?
Hints as to the planning outcome from the FN-CLC point of view are in THIS 25-page document from CoV, Appendix “D.  Joint Venture Guiding Planning Principles”. Presumably, many of these FN-CLC principles will also apply to the upcoming much bigger Jericho development. The principles, happily, include “…prioritize walking, cycling and transit…”, among many others. Cheesy car suburbs look unlikely.
The CoV document also lays out a big batch of overarching plans that will inform CoV’s Fairmont (Heather) Lands planning outcome.  Among them:  Land use, Density, Height, Public benefits, Transportation, Built form and character, Heritage, Sustainability, Development phasing.
Hopefully, the groups will meet somewhere in the middle of these various visions, which obviously differ in some areas e.g. affordability v.s. maximization of triple bottom line (page 18).  To me, at this stage, there looks like plenty of common ground.
Density will, of course, be the big hot public topic. Via its proxy — building height.  And let’s not forget the ever-popular vehicle storage (parking).

Thanks to Frances Bula for this in the Globe and Mail.  Note the possibility that the development will retain an existing 1920-era heritage building.  Note also the potential for City of Vancouver mandated affordable housing components, housing for FN members, and moderate to high density (as at nearby Cambie Street).

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Interested in the “other parcel”, the 21-acre Heather Street Lands?  Mark your calendar.
You can attend a Welcome Event (the launch of the planning process) on Saturday, September 24, 2016 . Noon to 3 pm, 4949 Heather Street, at the Heather Street Lands.

In the same flurry of transactions in October 2014 that released the Jericho Lands from DND use and positioned it for development, the former RCMP HQ at 37th and Heather in Vancouver went to the same groups.

Canada Lands Company and the MST Partnership have come together in a joint venture as the owners of the Heather Street Lands. The MST Partnership comprises the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

These lands comprise 21 acres, located in a very ripe area, smack in the middle of low-density old-time car suburbs. Note the intense densification taking place along Cambie Street in this area as a hint of a possible future here.

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The same three First Nations that are half-owners of the 52-acre former DND property called the Jericho Garrison have apparently signed a letter of intent for the 39 acres to the west, in a transaction with the Provincial Government, the current owners.
So with this addition to the Jericho Lands development, we will now have a 91-acre contiguous parcel awaiting City of Vancouver zoning.



Let’s put our fingers to our keyboards, everyone, and try to predict the development outcomes.
I get first dibs on proposing that the Broadway subway extend to a central location in this land. And I hope the owners will be working towards a transit-oriented moderately dense community.
I also propose ped-and bike-friendly ways to get to Jericho Beach Park, one of Vancouver’s spectacular treasures — perhaps by massive traffic calming on 4th Avenue, or by a series of overpasses.
We are already aware that the Canada Lands Corporation, half owner of the former DND 52-acre site, doesn’t do social housing. Their mandate is to be a commercial developer. So put that in your CAC and ponder the discussions around new zoning, and the composition of various steering committees and management bodies.

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November 25, 2015

Public consultations on this project have been pushed back from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016.  This is according to Deana Grinnel, who was introduced April 29, 2015 as the project manager for this massive redevelopment of the former military lands at Jericho Garrison.

This 52-acre site will be redeveloped by Canada Lands Corporation on behalf of its new owners:  the CLC, Musqueam First Nation, Squamish FN and Tsleil-Waututh FN.

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Lisa Moffatt writes:

A friend of mine was involved in a bike-on-bike collision where the two-way cycling facility turns onto the hard packed gravel path at Jericho Beach.




She was cycling eastbound when a westbound cyclist, travelling too fast to make the turn in his lane, hit her head on (literally, they bashed heads) in her lane.  I’ve sent a note to Dale Bracewell at the City.  Dale has requested staff look into the design.

I have often thought the design of the lanes were too narrow at that intersection, but have yet to do anything about it. You can see how tight the facility gets where the yellow line directs the turn.

It would be interesting to see what folks would suggest for improvement. One thing I’d suggest would be to cut back the bushes on the east side of the sidewalk.


This is a problem of split jurisdiction: Engineering on streets, Park Board in Jericho.  And it’s typically the Park Board that is not following through – not only here but in Stanley and Kits Parks.

Too often the Board’s solution is to do the minimal – typically to tell you what not to do.  Here’s the generic, all-purpose Park Board signage:



This, however, is egregious:

A change of jurisdictions: from City Engineering to Park Board.

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