• Vancouver, BC
  • Canada Lands Company and MST Development Corporation
  • 8 hectares
  • 21 acres
  • Low Emissions Green Buildings
  • Arbortech Consulting
  • Bunt & Associates
  • Co-Design Group
  • Get the Picture
  • Kerr Wood Leidal Associates
  • local
  • MTD - Matthew Thomson Design
  • OSM Illustration
  • Piteau Associates
  • Principle Architecture
DIALOG Services
  • Architecture
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Planning & Urban Design
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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.

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.
Deana Grinnell, Canada Lands Company & Brennan Cook, MST Development Corp.
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process 01

Walking the Land

A first step for the project team was to walk the land and explore the site and surrounding community.

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process 02

Engaging with the Future Land Owners

Meeting with MST community members, the project team were able to gain insight into the Nations’ culture and values.

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process 03

Organizing the Ideas

What we heard from the MST community members framed the Cultural Interpretive Plan document.

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process 04

Connecting to the Broader Community

Heather Lands is located between 33rd and 37th and a 10 min walk from the 41st and Cambie Canada Line station, a network of bicycle routes frame the site and a pollinator corridor will connect Queen Elizabeth and Oak Meadows Park.

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process 05

Imprinting MST Values on the Lands

Broad design concepts for the site were informed by MST culture, the landscape land future land uses. The project team worked with cultural liaisons from each of the Nations’ to organize the new neighbourhood into character areas which pay homage to MST ways of being, and connection with the land.

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process 06

Respecting Heritage

The central organizing feature of the site, the Forest Trail inspired by the MST legend of “the runner” is closely aligned with an historic trail used by the Nations ancestors.

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process 07

Connection to the Land

The land, one of the four elements of life, nurtures and sustains us all according to the MST. In recognition of the importance of nature, Heather Lands includes an extensive park and open space network. The park is organized into ecozones which celebrate landscape features of the site, including the existing mature cedar trees which will be retained as the site is built out.

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process 08

Water is Sacred

Integral to sustaining life for the MST Nations, water is sacred. The treatment of water on site, including storm water, ground water and potable water management is carefully considered. In the exploration of low carbon energy sources for the site one pathway being considered is geothermal heating and cooling system which would potentially be located in the park.

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process 09

Drum Beat, Neighbourhood Heart

The new neighbourhood includes a mix of uses including office and retail opportunities, a daycare, a francophone school and an MST Cultural Centre. The cultural centre will be designed to showcase First Nations cultural values and be a place of welcome. Fronting the cultural centre is a large plaza for events, celebration and gathering.

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process 10

A Diverse and Inclusive Community

Primarily a residential development, the new neighbourhood includes a diversity of tenures including: social housing, affordable and market rental housing, and market housing. The social residential units will include a minimum of 50% family units, and the remaining tenures a minimum of 35% family units. The development will create aproximately 2,600 new homes.

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process 11

Celebrating MST Culture and Values

Embodying the expression, “The Spirit of this community is alive,” in all aspects of the design to create a place that gives prominence to MST culture and values is of primary importance for the new neighbourhood. MST culture is a living culture with a deep history rooted in the lands, water and seas. Celebrating the landscape through the retention of existing mature evergreen trees on the site and making visible the rain and ground water management within the network of public spaces are two examples of how MST culture and values are celebrated.

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process 12

Site Data

Site Area: 917,622 sf
GFA: 2,625,404 sf
FAR: 2,521,107 sf
FSR: 2.75
Commercial Area: 125,250 sf
Residential Area: 2,395,826 sf
Residential Amenity Area: 19,223 sf
Estimated Residential Units: 2,612
MST Cultural Centre Area: 22,549 sf
74-Space Childcare Centre Area: 11,935 sf
Francophone Elementary School Area: 50,590 sf*
Building Heights: 3 - 28 Storeys
Park / Open Space: 4.6 Acres

* Design Team for school site is Principle Architecture