Public hearings for two contentious highrise development proposals in the Everall neighbourhood, between Everall and Oxford streets, have been rescheduled from this Thursday to Monday, Oct. 17.
The two hearings – for the 21- and 24-storey tower Elegant development proposed for 1454 Oxford Street and on a 12-storey tower proposed by Forge for 14825/35 Thrift Ave. (immediately northwest of its existing Royce development) – will start at 5:30 p.m. at the White Rock Community Centre, preceding that night’s council meeting.
The city has already received a large number of written submissions on both proposals. Critics say they feel the projects are out of character for the neighbourhood, contrary to the existing OCP, and would pose threats to quality of life in their area, challenging infrastructure as well compromising the city’s aquifer.
Some had charged that having both hearings on the same evening (originally Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.) would limit the public’s accessibility and attendance, while a non-specific starting time for the Forge hearing (“following adjournment or conclusion of the public hearing for the Elegant development”), might be in contravention of mandatory notice requirements in the Local Government Act.
But Mayor Wayne Baldwin, who announced the rescheduling of the public hearings as part of his report to council on Monday night, told Peace Arch News he has no concerns about not setting a specific time for the second hearing.
“That’s how hearings run generally, and, judging by the emails I’ve received about both projects, the people writing are engaged with both hearings,” he said.
Rationale for the rescheduling, he said, is that notices published for the Elegant hearing had not used the correct phrases in describing a “phased development agreement” between the city and the developer.
“We’ve never done one before – it’s a new thing for us. We thought that, rather than confuse the public on the matter, let’s do it properly and redo the notice with the proper phraseology.”
The phased development agreement, which sets out a timeline for construction of each tower and also terms for amenity contributions, is a means for protecting both the developer and public interest, Baldwin said.
“It takes away the possibility the developer at a later date could challenge the amenity contribution.”