White Rock mayor shares progress, challenges
For a strong future, it is “absolutely critical” that White Rock have a healthy and sustainable commercial core, says the city’s mayor.
And changes implemented by the current council have put the city on the right track to do just that, Wayne Baldwin told a crowd of business leaders and politicians who gathered at White Rock Community Centre Thursday for the annual state of the city address.
“We had to quickly change some of our policies and bylaws for dealing with investors,” Baldwin explained of a process that led to the city’s amenity contribution policy, which implemented a flat rate per square metre for density above three storeys.
“The results were very positive,” Baldwin said.
To prove the point, he cited four major development projects approved prior to the policy that resulted in minimal return for the city: the Newport (about to break ground on the former White Rock Muffler site); the Saltaire (at Thrift Avenue and Johnston Road); the Avra (in the 1400-block of Goggs Avenue) and the Royce (under construction in the 14800-block of Thrift Avenue). Of those, the highest return came from the Saltaire, which resulted in about $370,000 in onsite amenities.
By comparison, the one project approved since the policy was enacted – the 12-storey Cressey, on Vidal Street – “their amenity contribution will amount to $650,000 and there’s another $100,000 on top of that” for a walkway.
In addition to reviewing the city’s strategic priorities – which include boosting arts as an economic generator; improving the waterfront; maintaining and improving police and fire services; and a focus on infrastructure – Baldwin touched on the city’s possible purchase of its water utility (see page 3).
He noted that at present, Epcor sends about $250,000 of its profits from the White Rock operation to Edmonton every year, and that the amount will grow to $1 million after planned upgrades triggered by the 2010 boil-water advisory are complete.
Undetermined is how much it will cost to acquire the utility and if residents will be in favour of the city borrowing the sum, he said.
Baldwin spoke highly of efforts by task forces he created late last year to focus on public art, rail safety, the Centre Street road allowance, the East Beach promenade and Johnston Road.
The mayor described the city’s future as “so bright and full of promise,” but not without its challenges.