City of White Rock officials could look at increasing height limits and density as a means of improving the city's future commercial viability

City of White Rock officials could look at increasing height limits and density as a means of improving the city's future commercial viability

Building heights ‘key to White Rock’s viability’

If the City of White Rock wants to strengthen its commercial prospects, it may want to reconsider its height restrictions citywide.

If the City of White Rock wants to strengthen its commercial prospects, it may want to reconsider its height restrictions citywide.

The suggestion was made in a draft Business Needs Assessment presented to council by Coriolis Consulting Corp.’s Jay Wollenberg Monday.

The comprehensive study was commissioned to assess the market needs and sustainability of commercial business in the city, as part of developing a long-term vision.

In sharing the height observation, Wollenberg acknowledged it is “not without controversy.”

Height has long been a topic of hot debate in the city, inflamed by Bosa Properties’ half-completed, four-tower Miramar Village project in the town centre.

In 2010, council voted to amend the Official Community Plan to reduce limit heights in the town centre from 21 to 12 storeys, and density from 3.8 floor-area-ratio to 2.75 – a move Wollenberg said likely reduced the number of sites in the area that are attractive for development.

“If you want to stimulate redevelopment to accommodate population growth and new retail floor space, you probably need to think about the recent density you had before amending the Official Community Plan,” Wollenberg said.

“We would encourage you to pursue that if you want to be more financially viable.”

The suggestion – among many in the 114-page report – drew criticism from Coun. Lynne Sinclair.

“If height and density is so beneficial for economic growth, why didn’t the Bosa development have that impact on White Rock?” she said, citing the project’s two yet-to-be-built towers and the loss of a planned liquor store.

Change wouldn’t be immediate, Wollenberg responded. The point would be to create opportunities.

“If your policies don’t allow sufficient height and density, where there is opportunity in the market, you won’t be able to take advantage of it,” he said. “You need to think of it as creating a playing field.”

The draft also suggests increasing allowed heights in the Lower Town Centre (Five Corners) to at least four storeys; higher limits could also make East and West Beach more attractive to developers, but would need to be looked at on a site-by-site basis, Wollenberg said.

Coun. Helen Fathers later told Peace Arch News public outcry regarding a proposal for the White Rock Muffler site on West Beach demonstrates there’s still a dichotomy in the city when it comes to height, and the balance has yet to be found.

Mayor Catherine Ferguson said she wasn’t surprised with the report’s points on height and density. She was among those who opposed the 2010 move to reduce height limits.

She said while the report produced little in the way of new information, it was “absolutely” useful to hear the information from someone who has no vested interest in it.

Other points in the assessment include a suggestion that the city and BIA should focus on recruiting one or more grocery stores to the town centre; and that retail space should be focused on Johnston Road between North Bluff Road and Roper Avenue.

Council voted to discuss the report’s findings in greater depth at a future planning session.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tanvi Pandhi, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, took part in the Surrey school district’s survey of students in grades 10 to 12, with a focus on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey students voice concerns about mask wearing, distancing in schools

Surrey school district has been surveying students in grades 10 to 12

Cambridge Elementary School music teacher Darlene Lourenco is “on the mend” after contracting COVID-19. She had a two-week stay at Surrey Memorial Hospital, including in the ICU. (Photo: submitted)
Surrey music teacher at home after two-week hospital stay battling COVID-19

Meantime, Surrey Teachers’ Association sends letter with safety demands to board of education

The Peninsula Community Foundation is set to host an online poker fundraiser on Dec. 11. (Unsplash photo)
Peninsula Community Foundation plans online poker tournament for charity

December fundraiser to feature pair of Surrey/White Rock poker pros

Lacey, a palomino paint, is in “amazing” shape now, compared to when she was rescued in August 2015. (Leanne Peniuk photo)
BC SPCA’s horse-rescue program offers equine intervention

Book Rescue Me raises funds, awareness for animal-welfare agency

Hugh Dobbie’s South Surrey-based tech business Yare Media was recently acquired by California’s Visaic Inc. (SFU photo)
South Surrey tech company acquired by California business

Hugh Dobbie founded Yare Media in 2016, and ‘will remain involved’

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Most Read