Our church neighbourhood is set for some dramatic changes in the near future. The 21.1 acre site north of us, known as the Heather Lands project will be redeveloped as a joint venture partnership between the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) and Canada Lands Company (“CLC”). As a milestone towards the Reconciliation, the historic Fairmont building which served as the former RCMP headquarters will be replaced with a First Nations cultural center surrounded by childcare facilities and 20+ storey apartment towers linked by a green corridor. The rezoning application describes the forest trail as being inspired by “the runner”, an important figure in xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ legends, who connected communities by communicating the approach of friends or foes.
Jewish and Christian people will be familiar with the figure and role of a ‘forerunner’ mentioned in Scripture. God appointed prophet messengers to remind people of the dangerous enemy that infiltrated their hearts and to call their attention to a true Ally and Healer who was coming. John the Baptist served as a ‘runner’ for Jesus (Mark 1:2-8) and Jesus returned to Heaven as our ‘runner’ (Hebrews 6:19-20) to prepare for our expected arrival.
I’m encouraged by the vision of the MST Nations and support of city staff to transform ‘dead’ lots to a vibrant residential community connected by forest trails. In the next 15 years, 540 units of social housing, 400 units of market rental housing and 1,670 leasehold strata-titled units will be constructed. That means at least 5,000 new neighbours within a short stroll of our church. What message will the Runner bring to these people’s doors from ours? Will they find a friend or foe on the other side of 37th Ave? Join me in praying for God’s guidance to prepare and respond to this growth of our community. May we provide a warm welcome and share the good news of hope and wholeness that comes from the transforming love of Jesus.
To learn more about the neighborhood plans you can attend the upcoming public hearing online May 24 at 6pmhttps://rezoning.vancouver.ca/applications/heatherlands/ph-notification-postcard.pdf