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Development Process

Development Process

The City’s Request for Proposals

The Requirements

After several years of hard work and dedication, the effort to develop SEFC had only just begun. In early 2005, the City of Vancouver called for expressions of interest from the development community, seeking a developer to take on the gargantuan task of building a 17-acre neighbourhood in just over three years.

Respondents were challenged by a number of requirements. They had to demonstrate the capacity to complete construction by a fixed deadline in 2009. The site design had to meet VANOC’s requirements. Proponents had to provide a strategy for meeting sustainability requirements, including LEED Silver for all buildings. Finally, the development was to be a walkable and diverse community that encouraged vitality, diversity and cultural richness while preserving heritage spaces in a way that recognized their historic industrial use.

Adding to the complexity, proponents had to create a development model that could support a diversity of housing types: 1/3 market housing, 1/3 “modest” market housing and 1/3 affordable housing. However, civic elections were held during the period when proposals were being prepared, bringing a change of leadership. Mayor Sam Sullivan and the 2005 City Council amended the housing requirement to 80% market housing and 20% affordable housing, affecting the development proposals in progress.

The Proposals

The City’s initial request for expressions of interest in August 2005 brought forward five developers – Concord Pacific Ltd., Concert Properties Ltd., Millennium Properties Ltd., Wall Financial Corporation and Windmill Developments Ltd. The five were all asked to submit a full proposal, but before the final March 2006 proposal deadline both Concert and Windmill withdrew from the competition, leaving just three respondents: Concord, Millennium and Wall.

All three proposals were credited as being remarkably high in calibre. “All three respondents showed a strong commitment to the project, assembled impressive teams, invested a significant amount of resources, and submitted comprehensive and well thought-out proposals that addressed all of the ODP [Official Development Plan] and RFP requirements,” states an administrative report to City Council outlining their recommendation. Following a tight competition, on April 16, 2006, the City awarded the contract to Millennium Properties, whose proposal offered the “best value to the City.”

Site. City of Vancouver, 2005enlarge

Site. City of Vancouver, 2005


“the capacity to meet the challenges, including sustainable design and an inflexible deadline”

In preparing their proposal, the challenge for Millennium was to assemble a team of designers and consultants that would stand out. The project team had to exhibit the capacity to meet the challenges inherent in the project, including its sustainable design requirements and an inflexible deadline. Millennium’s Hank Jasper was chosen to represent the development team and provide linkage to the City of Vancouver’s Project Office team. Roger Bayley, professional engineer and founding partner of Merrick Architecture, stepped into the role of design manager, responsible for coordinating a consultant team of roughly 150 people.

With the management positions filled, Millennium sought a sustainability champion to lead the team’s green efforts. Millennium asked Andy Kesteloo of Victoria’s Thornley BKG Consultants to bring his passion and expertise in sustainable design to complement the team’s technical capabilities. Millennium worked with GBL Architects and Merrick Architecture to assemble the proposal. They sought to keep the team of architects small, while maintaining a diversity of styles. Cobalt Engineering was brought in as mechanical engineer due to their interest in innovation and sustainability, and Glotman Simpson would provide structural engineering services.

In the interest of efficiency and expediency, construction work was divided between three teams: two seasoned and experienced general contractors, ITC and MetroCan, and Millennium’s own project management division. After the proposal was finished, a number of additional architects, engineers and consultants were added to the team, each vital to the success of the project. Trish French, Scot Hein and Larry Beasley of the City of Vancouver became allies in Millennium’s push to get approvals from within City Hall, helping to guide the process and ensure the project remained on track.

Download ‘Building a Team’ diagram (PDF)

Millennium’s Proposal: Sustainability

One of the notable accomplishments of this project was the level of green design achieved by the team, applied on an unprecedented scale. Though prior to this proposal Millennium had not competed a LEED project, the team embraced the challenge of developing a project that would meet the highest standards of sustainability. Millennium’s proposal outlined the adoption of a “sustainable solutions audit” that would be undertaken during the planning phase. The purpose of the audit was to evaluate the costs and the long-term value of the sustainable design features. The results would help determine the optimum set of sustainable design strategies to be included in the project. The audit assessed the following nine sustainability principles:

  1. Development of buildings in a way that fosters respect for open green space, the creation of habitat for wildlife, and sensitivity to rainfall and storm water collection and distribution.
  2. Reduction in use of potable water within landscape and buildings.
  3. Reducing energy use through appropriate orientation to the sun and evaluating alternate ”communal” energy sources, including a district heating system, and evaluating the potential for making the community carbon neutral.
  4. Reducing the use of non-replaceable virgin building material in the construction process.
  5. Creating design guidelines that create a lasting and flexible set of buildings that can be easily maintained, renovated and modified over time in response to changing demographics.
  6. Creating a healthy indoor living environment – with a focus on light, air quality, sound and community.
  7. Implementing green roofs for urban agriculture.
  8. Designing the community in such a way that it encourages live, work and play to be achieved without using an automobile.
  9. Taking advantage of the larger False Creek area in implementing energy, stormwater, agriculture and transportation alternatives.

An early “form and character” illustration of SEFC by architect Paul Merrick. Merrick Architecture, 2006

Success Stories: Building Opportunities with Business

Millennium demonstrated a commitment to capacity building and social sustainability that produced tangible community benefits before construction was complete. In 2007, Millennium began to work with the City of Vancouver and Building Opportunities with Business (BOB), a non-profit organization that supports local business development and increases job opportunities for inner-city residents. Millennium and BOB created a “Community Benefits Agreement” through which Millennium committed to awarding $15 million in contracts to inner-city businesses and suppliers.

As another part of their agreement, Millennium established a $750,000 legacy fund for an employment and training program to offer entry-level construction jobs to inner-city residents. These funds allowed BOB to create the Construction Orientation to Retain Employment (CORE) training program. This comprehensive program begins by providing participants with basic life skills training such as math and communication through a program called Tradeworks. Following this, participants pursue a skills training course with the Vancouver Regional Construction Association. Upon completion, students will have accrued seven industry certificates, including first aid and fall safety. The program provides breakfasts and lunches for participants, and basic equipment such as boots and hardhats. Millennium committed to creating 100 construction jobs for inner-city residents who completed the training program.

To date, Millennium has far exceeded its procurement goal, facilitating the purchase of over $41 million in goods and services for Millennium Water from more than 25 local businesses and suppliers. The employment program has successfully placed 87 trained individuals at the Olympic Village and 33 people on other construction sites. According to BOB, one of the most positive outcomes of this partnership was the legacy of construction training capacity that was developed through the program. The initiative has the advantage of being transferable to future partnerships, and will therefore create continuing benefit to the community.


CORE employment and training programs gave inner-city residents a real chance to advance in life. Building Opportunities with Business, 2007


Aerial. City of Vancouver, 2005