The Government of British Columbia announced that ICBC’s North Vancouver headquarters property will be transformed into hundreds of new homes for people, close to services, amenities, transit and the SeaBus.

“Underused areas that are already well-connected to transit and close to services and amenities are the perfect places to build new homes,” said Premier David Eby. “That’s why we’re buying up land near transit hubs and working with partners to shape development in a way that prioritizes the needs of the people who live and work in our communities over luxury condos. Our purchase of ICBC’s headquarters will transform the site of a largely empty office building into a thriving community with hundreds of attainable homes for middle-income people.”

The new transit-oriented development next to Lonsdale Quay Market will be made possible through an agreement between the BC Transportation Financing Authority and ICBC, and Musqueam Nation, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation (MST Nations).

The waterfront site at 151 Esplanade W. is within the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples. The Province and MST Nations will partner on the redevelopment and work with other key stakeholders, such as TransLink and the City of North Vancouver, to advance this project. This includes work to prepare the property for mixed-use residential development, and to ensure the development will deliver market and below-market homes, as well as amenities and services such as child care, health care and public spaces. The Province and MST Nations are in the early planning process, but it’s estimated that this project will create several hundred homes.

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“For decades, our Nations have had to kick down doors and fight to regain a stake in our traditional territories,” said Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow. “Through this new partnership approach, we are turning over a new page, one that will lead to our governments working together as partners in redevelopment and concrete results in tackling the housing crisis.”

The purchase of this property is part of the Province’s $394-million commitment to deliver 10,000 homes near transit during the next 10 to 15 years. The goal is to acquire land near existing and future transit hubs, and transform it into thriving communities with homes and amenities.

“This property is an ideal place to build homes near a world-class transit hub, where people can easily access the daily necessities of life and have the option of using affordable efficient public transit to get around,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The purchase of this ICBC building and land is another example of our commitment to finding creative solutions to address the province’s housing shortage.”

Squamish Nation spokesperson Sxwixwtn Wilson Williams said: “We raise our hands to the Province’s approach of seeking First Nations as true partners on this kind of unique development. This is an important part of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh shared territory, and we welcome the opportunity to be partners on delivering housing that serves our members and the public as a whole.”

ICBC’s hybrid work model has resulted in the 27,870-square-metre (300,000 square feet) North Vancouver headquarters operating at less than half capacity on most days. As a result, ICBC has secured a 15-year lease to move its headquarters to 2150 Keith Dr., adjacent to the VCC Clark SkyTrain station.

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“It’s been an honour to be part of the Lower Lonsdale community as it has grown and thrived over the past 40 years,” said David Wong, CEO, ICBC. “We’re pleased to have worked with the Province on the sale of our head office and are now looking forward to moving to our new location in Vancouver’s False Creek Flats neighbourhood.”

This is the third transit-oriented development the Province has announced in recent months, following projects in Port Moody and Saanich. All three are made possible by 2022 amendments to the Transportation Act that allow the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to acquire land near transit hubs to develop housing and amenities, helping to create vibrant communities.

“I want to thank the Premier and his team for ensuring the MST Nations are respected and included as decision-makers on this project,” said Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Jen Thomas. “I have no doubt that we will build something beautiful on this property. In fact, when we work together in partnership to solve common problems for all the people we represent, it is already a beautiful result.”

Featured image: ICBC’s North Vancouver headquarters property will be transformed into hundreds of new homes for people, close to services, amenities, transit and the SeaBus. (BC Government)

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