Marine Drive development moves ahead

A commercial/residential project is to be built in the 15500-block of White Rock
A commercial/residential project is to be built in the 15500-block of White Rock's Marine Drive.
— image credit: File photo

A major development project for White Rock's waterfront that was stymied by a split vote over the summer is moving ahead.

Council voted unanimously last week to give final reading to a bylaw amendment that facilitates the construction of a commercial/residential project on three lots in the 15500-block of Marine Drive.

The vote cleared the way for approval of the related development permit, which also passed unopposed.

The project was one of two that had been stopped in its tracks in July, when council voted 3-3 against moving them forward (see sidebar).

Following the split vote, Tatla Developments tweaked its Marine Drive plans to respond to council concerns around access to underground parking and treatment of the building's rear wall. There was no change proposed for the number of units planned – 10 residential and one commercial.

To address safety concerns due to the parking access being off of Marine Drive – raised by Couns. Helen Fathers and Louise Hutchinson – the applicants adjusted the plan to recess the garage door and provide an amber light that will flash whenever the door openst.

"Every time the door goes to open… there'll be an amber flashing light to warn pedestrians,"  said Paul Stanton, the city's director of planning and development services.

New landscaping, windows and a green roof are among changes proposed for the project's rear wall. Stanton also noted the project height is lower that what is allowed.

While no one spoke at the first public hearing, held July 16, a number of area residents stood to express concerns at a second opportunity, held Sept. 17.

View loss and the impact to how Marine Drive looks were key issues raised.

Development should stay within existing guidelines, said Moti Bali.

"People want to take an inch to get a yard," he said. "It's like buying shorts to get a trouser."

Aroon Shah agreed, adding he is concerned that if amendments continue to be granted, that "in another 15 years we're going to have highrises on Marine Drive."

Public hearings, Shah added, are "a waste of time."

"Citizens have complained again and again that we don't want to go through this process."

Cliff Armstrong, who lives behind the proposed site, also expressed concern with the impact to views, along with the uncertainty created by allowing the city's guidelines to be amended.

"Homeowners expect to be able to rely on those rules," he said.

The development, Armstrong added, "wouldn't flow well with what's there."

Tatla Developments' Kuldeep Tatla defended the project, saying improvements to the laneway will make the area more accessible, including to emergency crews.

He reiterated Stanton's note that the height is below zoning limits.

Project architect David Danyluck agreed.

"The height as far as we're concerned is not an issue," Danyluck said.

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