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

Longtime basketball coach Allison McNeill is worried that the COVID-19 pandemic will adversely affect high-school athletes with university athletic aspirations. (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre photo)
COVID-19: Young athletes scrambling for scholarships, opportunities amid pandemic

‘They lost their whole Grade 12 year’ says Semiahmoo basketball coach Allison McNeill

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
White Rock woman among dozens in Lower Mainland to benefit from Elder Dog program

Dog-care organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but requires more clients to serve

Travis Selje with Rex, the family dog he got to enjoy for the final six months of his life. (Submitted photo)
Defence says evidence ‘compelling, overwhelming’ to acquit Surrey woman in deadly crash

Epileptic seizure caused fatal crash that killed Travis Selje, lawyer argues in final submissions

WATCH: Surrey-made anti-bullying video urges youth to #BlockEmDontShareEm

“Break the chain by deleting the image and never forwarding – not even to a best friend’

File photo by Tom Zytaruk
Surrey 2021 tree sale begins Friday

City of Surrey says it’s selling quality trees for $20 each

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

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

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read