A design of the trading plaza in the proposed Willingdon Lands development. Willingdon Lands

Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh nations unveil proposed Willingdon Lands mega-development

The Willingdon Lands plan will be officially presented to the City of Burnaby’s Planning and Development Committee tomorrow evening, before going to public consultation and an anticipated public hearing next spring.

By Srushti Gangdev | November 23, 2021 |5:00 am

The corner of Willingdon Ave and Canada Way could look very different in a few years.

Musqueam Indian Band, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and Aquilini Development unveiled a masterplan for the area Friday for a mixed-use “urban village” which they say would include 5,000 housing units and a film studio bringing 3,000 permanent jobs to the city.

The Willingdon Lands plan will be officially presented to the City of Burnaby’s Planning and Development Committee tomorrow evening, before going to public consultation and an anticipated public hearing next spring.

The land on the southwest corner of one of Burnaby’s busiest intersections is on the shared territory of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh nations, and they purchased it from the provincial government in 2014 along with Aquilini Developments.

“Storytelling is an integral part of Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh oral tradition and culture,” says Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Jen Thomas in a press release.

“In reimagining this site, we wanted to embed storytelling into the space in ways both big and small – from the film studio, the cultural centre and the community hearth to the use of native plants, hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ placenames and educational signage.”

Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow called the vision an opportunity to advance reconciliation, along with providing accommodation and a positive legacy for future generations.

The development will also prioritize its connection to the land and waters, the groups said.

“The landscaping will use native plants, trees will be selected for longevity and shade, gardens will feature edible and medicinal plants and rain gardens will naturally capture stormwater,” a release said.

“The project will also daylight a section of Sumner Creek, restoring a part of the natural creek system to the neighbourhood.”

The groups say they expect the planned film studio to bring in more than $360 million annually to BC’s economy.

“The inclusion of the film studio in the plan aligns with Burnaby’s 2020 Economic Development Plan, which specifically identifies the Willingdon Lands as the site for a new media urban village. The 450,000-square-foot film studio will bring over 3,000 full-time, long-term jobs to Burnaby’s film industry,” the release said.

They also say the development has responded to many of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing in Burnaby, and has included a variety of housing forms, “creating sustainable and accessible communities close to services and amenities, co-locating affordable housing with community facilities, and increasing the supply of affordable rental housing.”

The 5,000 proposed housing units would include a variety of sizes, formats, and affordability levels—including leasehold strata, market rental, moderate-income rental, affordable rental, and live-work formats. There are also plans for a childcare centre.

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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