Few attend OCP meetings
A sparsely-attended open house last Thursday (March 9) at Centennial Arena gave some 70 residents their first view of a draft of White Rock’s updated Official Community Plan.
The thin attendance at the event appears to have been matched by two other “pop-up engagement” meetings on the OCP hosted by the city (March 8 at the arena and March 10 at the White Rock Community Centre).
Each drew between 25 and 30 people each, planning manager Carl Isaak told Peace Arch News in an email Monday.
As in the pop-up meetings, he and other city planning staff were on hand to answer questions posed by residents who did take the trouble to come out to Thursday’s three-hour open house in the arena meeting room.
Residents were invited to place sticky notes with comments and questions on the information boards around the room. The boards offered a summary of the full 170-page draft, which planning staff anticipate will change, once feedback from the public and stakeholder groups is collected and analyzed.
But most residents at the open house seemed to want to read over the information quietly.
“It’ll take a bit of time to absorb,” Alicia Hagerman, one of those attending, noted.
“Some of it seems quite thoughtful in what they’ve done.”
At the same time, she said, she hopes density increases in the OCP will still provide a supportive environment for independent retail businesses – many of which have been hard hit by rising lease costs.
“I hope it bodes well for them – the retail area in White Rock is quite sad, and these are the sort of businesses we want to support and grow and encourage to exist.”
Resident Linda Patzold said, however, that she was “not impressed” by what she had seen so far of the draft document.
“At 170 pages, who’s got time to read that?” she asked. “The pictures are nice and the colours are nice, but it doesn’t say what’s happening. It doesn’t say anything about highrises – I think it’s a whitewash.”
Isaak told PAN that, from his perspective, the level of engagement at the open house and the pop-up meetings was “quite good.”
“The main interest of participants continues to be land use and growth management policies, and the panels where we asked attendees to indicate their level of support for key land-use policy directions generally showed more ‘strongly support’ and ‘support’ responses than ‘support with changes’ or ‘do not support’,” he said.
Among features of the current draft are a philosophical approach outlining goals and objectives for the OCP in four sections: Purpose and Context; Policies; Implementation; and Development Permit Area Guidelines.
Land-use designations are linked to specific geographic areas of the city, and the city intends to regulate density by height and floor area, rather than units-per-acre. The draft also includes transitions in height and density in all existing land-use designations, as well as in a newly developed designation, Town Centre Transition.
General regulations for height and density are included as part of land-use designations such as mixed-use, multi-unit residential and commercial.
Two more public meetings were planned for Tuesday (after PAN’s deadline). Further pop-up meetings are to be held at the White Rock Community Centre (15154 Russell Ave.) on March 28 and 30, and April 1.