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Located on the traditional, unceded territory of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, Willingdon Lands is the first Indigenous-owned project in Burnaby since colonization – a precedent-setting project for re-establishing and celebrating Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh culture in the city. The development aims to create a walkable, mixed-use community, including an employment generator, that showcases Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh culture and provides opportunities for future generations.
The goal of the master plan is to create a development driven by Indigenous goals and traditions that feels radically different from other urban villages. The team at Arcadis worked closely with the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh advisors on the project to develop a set of guiding principles for the site. The guiding principles are each comprised of a compilation of oral histories, storytelling narratives, precedent imagery, and a tangible list of impacts that inform the design guidelines to ensure they are expressed in the end form urban design.
The land use concept for Willingdon Lands is a complete community centered around a cultural heart. A diagonal pedestrian path connects the natural park spaces to the most urban corner, creating a transect of experiences and anchoring the gathering spaces on the site, each with unique Indigenous elements such as a native plants garden. Four ‘portals’ are envisioned at the entrances to the site. These portals serve as connectors from ancient ways to the modern era and will be reflective places that present opportunities to experience art and culture, read or listen to stories, and feel welcomed onto the site. An existing creek on the site will be daylit to provide a connection to the land and the water.
The master plan achieves a balance of ground-oriented, mid-rise, and tower housing to create a neighborhood-scale ‘urban village,’ a description by the City of Burnaby for moderate-density communities that serve local needs. The primarily residential neighborhood is balanced on the site with a large parcel containing a film studio that will provide an economic engine for surrounding communities. The development is expected to begin construction in 2024 and continue buildout over the next 20 to 25 years.
Willingdon Lands will be a community that honors the rich histories and culture of the Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. The community will be grounded in Indigenous values and foster inclusivity, accessibility, and opportunity for future generations. The site will be an opportunity to embed stories on the land that have been missing in Burnaby since colonization.
The development will provide over 5,000 homes across a variety of tenures and formats, including affordable housing and live-work units. It will add commercial amenities to the neighborhood, which currently lacks local walkable options, as well as provide 450,000 square feet of film and television production studio space to support the local economy.