Skeena Terrace -- built in the 1960s and home to approximately 600 people -- is one of the oldest and largest subsidized housing developments in Vancouver, and it's set to be redeveloped, with BC Housing officially submitting a rezoning application in late April that the City of Vancouver published on Monday.

Located on 2108 Cassiar Street near the boundary between Vancouver and Burnaby, at the intersection of Boundary Road and Lougheed Highway, the 10.8-acre site currently comprises of 230 housing units across 20 low-rise buildings and townhouses.

The redevelopment process was first initiated by BC Housing in January 2021, with the City of Vancouver approving the Skeena Terrace Policy Statement in July 2022 which guides the overall redevelopment of the site. Both BC Housing and the City of Vancouver agreed that the aging buildings are nearing the end of their lifespan.

"Given the age of the existing buildings and the extensive, ongoing maintenance and repairs necessary to keep these facilities in an acceptable condition, BC Housing approached the City to determine how to best meet the needs of current and future tenants," the Skeena Terrace Policy Statement reads.

What they settled on is not just redeveloping the site to replace the aging buildings, but also adding a sizeable infusion of new social housing units to make better use of the sprawling site, with BC Housing saying that it "creates an opportunity to re-plan the site and intensify its use while also adding new amenities for the community."

BC Housing Skeena Terrace Cassiar Street VancouverSkeena Terrace. (City of Vancouver)

The project would see the 20 existing buildings redeveloped into a 1,924-unit complex -- originally estimated to be closer to 1,700 last year -- with 15 buildings ranging from four to 36 storeys.

Of the 1,924 units, 641 will be provided at market rental rates, while the remaining 1,283 will be provided at rental rates geared towards income. Approximately 60% of the units will include two or more bedrooms, 14% will include three or more bedrooms, and 10% will also be wheelchair-accessible suites.

The overall redeveloped site will be structured around "neighbourhood rooms" -- outdoor courtyards framed by buildings -- and see the taller buildings located along Lougheed Highway and Skeena Street. There will be "a network of inter-connected, pedestrian-priority routes and a high-quality public realm that corresponds to the residents' needs while connecting efficiently with neighbouring areas," which includes the recently approved Buchanan West master plan community a short five-minute drive east.

BC Housing Vancouver Skeena Terrace Redevelopment - Master Plan Site Layout (2)The 15 buildings will range from four to 36 storeys. (BC Housing / Perkins & Will)

BC Housing Skeena Terrace Cassiar Street VancouverThe site layout for the proposed Skeena Terrace redevelopment. (BC Housing / Perkins & Will)

Vancouver BC Housing Skeena Terrace Redevelopment - Parcelization - PhasingThe parcel plan and phasing plan for the Skeena Terrace redevelopment. (BC Housing / Perkins & Will)

The Skeena Terrace redevelopment will also include a 74-space childcare facility and 13,660 sq. ft of commercial space. According to the City of Vancouver's Skeena Terrace Policy Statement, most of that commercial space will be designed for "local-serving retail uses such as a café, deli, bakery, green grocer/small grocery store, or small-scale pharmacy with a focus on activating adjacent open spaces and creating an inviting pedestrian-focused retail experience."

A total of 470 vehicle parking stalls and 5,949 bicycle stalls will be provided across the site.

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Delivery of the entire project is currently expected to unfold in seven phases, starting from the northern portion of the site before working downwards. The existing storm and sanitary systems will also be upgraded, with the work carrying out in three phases.

That phasing approach is intended to minimize the amount of disruption for existing tenants of Skeena Terrace, but those who are affected will have the right of the first refusal on an assigned new unit, with BC Housing also paying for moving expenses and other associated costs.

The City of Vancouver will host a Q&A period for the Skeena Terrace redevelopment project from Wednesday, June 7 to Tuesday, June 20. BC Housing is then expected to work towards a development permit and building permit in 2024, with construction on phase one expected to begin in late 2024.

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