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White Rock launches webpage to help residents track development

The City of White Rock has launched a webpage to help residents keep track of development throughout the city.

The construction information portal is a “one-stop-shop” to find details of projects four storeys and taller.

Currently, there are 17 buildings listed on the webpage, which will bring in a total of 1,475 apartment units to the city within the next few years.

The tallest developments reported on the website are the 23-storey PARC building (1575 George St.), Foster Martin’s trio of 25-storey buildings (1484 Martin St.), and Isle of Mann’s plan for 21- and 24-storey towers (1454 Oxford St.).

Of the apartments coming to the city, 214 units are identified as rental, 198 of which come from the seniors PARC building.

City of White Rock planner Jessica Jiang gave a presentation to the Peninsula Homeless to Housing (PH2H) task force Friday on the city’s official community plan, and what the city is doing to increase its rental stock.

Jiang explained that although purpose- built rental buildings aren’t financially rewarding for developers, the city has created incentives for developers to build rental suites through its OCP, passed last October.

Jiang noted to Peace Arch News after the meeting that most of the development projects on the new construction information portal webpage were approved prior to the new OCP.

Development projects in White Rock:

In the new OCP, the city has created a “density bonus and incentives” for developers looking to build in the town centre transition area. The transition area is located on the east and west side of the town centre, north of Thrift Avenue.

Densities in the town centre transition area may be increased by 40 per cent where at least half of the additional floor area is secured market rental.

Also noted in the OCP, the city will establish an affordable housing reserve fund. Some PH2H members noted during Jiang’s presentation that the fund has been talked about during previous civic elections, but this is the first time they have seen it written in an official city document.

Jiang told members that creating an affordable housing reserve – supported by a portion of cash-in-lieu community amenity contributions – has been moved up in priority. She said the city has yet to decide how the affordable housing fund would be allocated, although she did note that the city is considering using the fund to provide development cost charges credits to affordable-housing developments.

Affordable-housing developments, using the definition the city works by, are housing developments in which at least 30 per cent of the units are owned or managed by non-profit groups and designed to be affordable for low- and moderate-income households. Low- and moderate-income limits, as defined by BC Housing, are $69,360 for one-bedroom suites and $99,910 for two-bedroom suites. There are two buildings in White Rock where all the units are managed by a non-profit, the Evergreen Manor (110 units for seniors) and the Peace Arch Manor (79 units for seniors).

Related: Major construction projects in White Rock

Jiang told the group that the city is exploring opportunities to allow additional secondary suites in single-detached homes, such as considering two secondary suites in single-detached houses, and considering secondary suites in duplexes and triplexes.

In the new OCP, the city requires a minimum one-to-one replacement of existing rental dwelling units when an existing rental building is proposed for redevelopment. The average unit size of replacement units is to be at least 80 per cent of the units being replaced.

At the end of Jiang’s presentation, she mentioned a few highlights from the provincial budget, announced last month.

PH2H member Neil Fernyhough noted that in the budget, the government said it would give municipalities the power to zone for rental, something that the PH2H group has lobbied the provincial government for.

“We did see that,” Jiang responded. “There hasn’t been a lot of information released on that because there needs to be some kind of procedure. But we would be excited to see that, depending on what it is.”

Fernyhough asked if the city has identified areas that could be rezoned to rental use only. Jiang said, “we’ll have to wait.”

The city’s construction information portal will provide up-to-date information on new major developments zoned for the city, including location, timeline, parking, road closures and details of the project

Aaron Hinks

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