Some of the details of the proposed Cheeyke fan neighbourhood development are becoming clearer.
The developer, Sqomish Sea to Sky Developments – a partnership between the Squamish Nation, Bethel, and Mathews Southwest – gave an update on the Cheekeye River Development project at an open house at Totem Hall on May 25 to about a dozen Squamish residents who attended.
The development slated for 170 acres adjacent to Ross and Government roads in Brackendale would include some commercial space and 540 small to mid-sized single-family lots.
The rest of the housing plans are still being firmed up but would include a mix of housing, including townhomes and multi-family units. Potentially another 500 units could be created, according to District of Squamish staff, though the Sqomish planners say that 500 is not set in stone.
“Ultimately, the development will reflect what the local market demands,” said Carlos Zavarce, a planner with Sqomish.
The developer is also in talks with the district about 50 rentals that may be offered as part of an amenity package, according to district staff.
The housing will be based on “compact design,” according to Zavarce. “It means we can offer these units more affordably,” he said. “The days of everyone having a quarter acre I think are outside of the realm of possibility for somebody like me and a lot of people of my generation.”
Developer Michael Hutchison said the homes would likely be the least expensive in Squamish.
“It is a very unique site. Unlike many areas in Squamish, we don’t have to blast into the side of a hill, the roads are not made out of granite, it is flat, and with flat homes you have a much lower construction cost,” he said. “We do expect these to be very affordable.”
Originally the proposal was for 750 single-family lots, but with changing market conditions and input from the district, the density of the project has increased, according to Hutchison.
Green roofs will be possible in the community along with other green building principles, Zavarce said, including “water and energy conservation targets, such as smart metering, rainwater collection, allowing people to have solar panels on their roofs.”
Waste reduction will be a goal both during construction and once residents have moved into the community, Zavarce added.
An area for tiny homes on the property is also being considered, according to Caroline Lamont, land development manager with Sqomish.
The community will be based on “smart growth” principles. “It is a lot about getting out of the car,” said Lamont. “It is to provide various services within walking distance for the existing and proposed community.”
The goal is to create a walkable, bikeable community, she said, with plenty of access to local trails.
More than 50 acres of land will be donated to the district as park.
“A significant portion of this site is park – 40 per cent, 27 per cent of that is the Brackendale Farmers Park – that will be dedicated,” said Zacarce. Ray Peters Trail will also be enhanced, he said.
Transit will be drawn to the area by the increased density by the time the community is built, according to Zacarce.
“The more people living in the community, transit becomes more viable, it becomes more frequent and because it becomes more frequent, more people use transit.” Zavarce said traffic calming measures – including, possibly, speed bumps – would be used on Ross Road to help deal with traffic concerns in the area.
Lamont said the local elementary school, Brackendale Elementary School, is far from capacity and could absorb the potential increase in children and families. She added the school district owns land where it could potentially build another school if necessary.
According to the school district, Brackendale Elementary is at 72 per cent capacity and Don Ross Middle School is at 85 per cent capacity. The school district holds a 17.14-acre parcel in the development zone.
In February, council passed first reading of the zoning amendment bylaw and second reading of the official community plan (OCP) amendment that help pave the way for the Cheekye Fan project. A public hearing will be planned, likely this fall, according to district staff.
The developer is currently in the design phase for an approximately 30-metre high, roughly $45-million debris flow barrier to be built above Alice Lake to help protect the current and proposed community from landslides.
The developer will fund and have the barrier built should the project go ahead. The barrier will be paid for through the strata fees of the proposed community, Hutchison said.