THE CHEEKEYE STORY
The Cheekeye Lands are rich in many different and defining ways. Located outside the flood plain and containing the best soils, it was an early and prime settlement area in Squamish. The Squamish First Nation (Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw) had at least 7 villages along the Squamish River and by 1892, 30 European families resided in this region. The area has very deep roots in Squamish Nation history, culture and tradition. It is a refreshing outcome to realize that the people of Squamish Nation will reap the benefits of their connection to this land many years later.
The province of British Columbia and the Squamish Nation have finalized a purchase option in which the province will sell approximately 172 acres of this historic territory to the Squamish Nation. The province and the Squamish Nation believe the property sale and creation of a master planned community represents a model for cooperation and economic development under the province’s “New Relationship” strategy with First Nations.
The partnership involved in the development of the master planned community is unique. It brings together a First Nation (Squamish Nation) a municipality (District of Squamish) and a developer (Squamish Cornerstone Developments LP). This alliance will generate numerous benefits for the province, the District and the Squamish Nation.
First and foremost, the development will address the debris flow risk that currently threatens the land as well as the newly upgraded highway and parts of Brackendale. In addition, the Squamish Nation Reserve lands are currently situated in the debris torrent hazard zone. For many years the Poquisin & Skamain, Cheakamus and Waiwakum villages have not been able to access any kind of construction funding due to their location within the zone. Mitigation work done as a result of the development will significantly reduce the risk of damage caused by a flood torrent to an acceptable standard (Low Risk Designation) and would permit construction to move forward in those afflicted zones.
The venture will provide affordable, single and multi-family housing to meet the surging growth of Squamish over the next 25 – 40 years. The provision of affordable housing will be particularly important to young families wishing to escape expensive housing markets in the Lower Mainland and Whistler. It is estimated that output generated by the construction of the Cheekeye Fan Community would be $436 million. The construction alone would create employment of roughly 2,960 full-time equivalent jobs directly and indirectly generating $46 million in revenues to the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
A direct benefit to the Nation will come from the various employment and training opportunities that will be made available to First Nation members. This project will also contribute a significant amount of jobs and businesses to the Squamish region. Many of the jobs created will require skilled trades which could be provided through a apprenticeship and training program.
There will also be significant opportunities to highlight historical Squamish Nation cultural themes giving the development a unique and special distinction. For example: the naming of the neighbourhoods, streets and trails; design guidelines that can include heritage architectural features; public art and other Squamish nation icons. By way of example – One of the most notable aspects commented on by passengers traveling through YVR International Airport is the inclusion of First Nation themes and artwork and how it creates a very appealing cultural and historic dynamic.
The project is a win for all involved. It will be a catalyst for bringing Squamish to the forefront and creating a world class community born out of a longstanding strategic and prosperous partnership.