Construction begins on TFN mega malls

Developers and local residents celebrated the official start of construction for two massive Tsawwassen mall projects on Friday morning, which are expected to open in spring 2016.

"Let me be clear, it's full steam ahead," said Daniel Fournier, chairman and CEO of Ivanhoé Cambridge at a press conference on Tsawwassen First Nation territory.

After almost two years of project planning and site preparation, construction crews began work on two landmark projects: Ivanhoé Cambridge’s Tsawwassen Mills, which clocks in at 111,500 square metres and Property Development Group’s Tsawwassen Commons, at 51,000 square metres.

The $600 million commitment from Ivanhoé Cambridge is expected to generate 4,500 construction jobs over the two-year build period and 3,000 retails jobs once completed,

"We recognize the important role that our investments carry in strengthening and building local economies and providing exciting and rewarding new employment opportunities," said Fournier.

Big box stores Walmart and Rona were announced as anchor tenants for Tsawwassen Commons, while Bass Pro Shops was announced as the anchor tenant for Tsawwassen Mills.

Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams said it was a big moment in history for his people.

"I want to take you back in time for a minute to those days when my ancestors on my father's side here in Tsawwassen," he said. "I want you to picture this place here as it was 200 years ago."

Before European settlement, Williams said the Tsawwassen people numbered in the thousands, spread out along the base of English Bluff and living in summer camps and villages north in Canoe Pass where salmon brought food to their doorstep.

"This land was a great place of wealth and we stewards of the land, river, and sea in Tsawwassen First Nation territory welcomed many here to share it. Today, 200 years later, we're taking a great step toward rebuilding that wealth and that welcome."

Williams said the mixed-use development will encourage many people to come to Tsawwassen to live, work, and shop.

The chief noted the community has strong support for the land use, with TFN members voting in favour of the project by a 97 per cent approval rating.

TFN began negotiating to become a treaty nation 14 years ago, agreeing in July 2007 to a deal with the federal and provincial governments that saw their reserve lands double in size to 724 hectares.

Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad praised the collaboration process and the economic opportunities it would provide TFN members.

“Tsawwassen First Nation is a model of how B.C.’s treaty process can work, not just for First Nations, but for neighbouring communities," he said. "These projects will make a major contribution to building the economy and providing jobs across the Lower Mainland."

Located at Highway 17 and 52nd Street, Tsawwassen Mills will include approximately 16 anchors tenants, with a mix of premium fashion brands, factory outlets, restaurants and first to market retailers, along with a 1,100-seat food court. The development will be modelled on the CrossIron Mills and Vaughan Mills in the Greater Calgary and Greater Toronto areas, respectively.

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