City urged to reject tower proposal

White Rock residents launch petition opposing Oxford Street development.

The site of a proposed highrise development at 1454 Oxford St.

A group of White Rock residents have collected more than 1,000 signatures on a petition opposing a development proposal for twin highrise towers on Oxford Street.

Launched close to two months ago, the petition calls on the city to reject the development proposal from Richmond-based Elegant Development, and has garnered more than 1,100 signatures at last count, according to organizer Debbie Lawrance.

The development in question is proposed for a 2.7-acre parcel of land at 1454 Oxford St. – currently owned by Epcor, the Edmonton-based firm that owns the city’s water utility – and would include two highrise towers, 24 and 21 storeys in height.

Before the development can be approved by council, official community plan (OCP) amendments and rezoning would need to take place.

According to Lawrance, those opposed to the proposal feel the height and density of the project are not appropriate for the neighbourhood.

“From the petition point of view, the height is not at all complementary to the OCP zoning in a low-rise residential area,” she said.

Lawrance said she and other residents have been collecting signatures door-to-door in the community, as well as at the Farmer’s Market every Sunday.

Earlier this month, she submitted the petition to the city, and on Sunday sent copies to Epcor and City of Edmonton officials, highlighting some citizens’ concerns.

She said the group will continue the efforts throughout the summer, and plans to bring the petition back to the city in the fall, hopefully with close to 2,000 signatures.

“If nothing else, we’re raising awareness around the development,” she said. “Whether people agree or disagree, we want people to make informed and educated choices as to why they are or why they aren’t supporting such endeavours.”

The proposed Oxford development has been the source of debate since it was first presented at a public-information meeting in April 2014. Those against the project cited noise, traffic and tree-loss as main concerns, as well as its non-conformity with the OCP.

According to the city’s director of planning and development, the proposal is scheduled to be brought to the city’s advisory design panel on July 21. A report to council on how to deal with applications requiring OCP amendments, such as the Oxford development, is expected to be brought to council July 27.

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