Residents pack a meeting room at White Rock's Centre for Active Living Tuesday to learn more about a 15-storey development proposed for the corner of North Bluff and Nichol roads. Below

Residents pack a meeting room at White Rock's Centre for Active Living Tuesday to learn more about a 15-storey development proposed for the corner of North Bluff and Nichol roads. Below

Discontent over highrise proposal west of White Rock town centre

Residents pack developers’ meeting to learn more about 15-storey plan.

Dozens of White Rock residents crowded into a small meeting room at the Centre for Active Living Tuesday evening to learn more about a 15-storey project proposed for 10 blocks west of the town centre.

It was quickly evident that many were not happy with the plans.

“This is nasty,” Barry Belec told Howard Steiss, a South Surrey resident and vice-president of project proponent Texor Homes Inc., of the 134-unit residential project planned for North Bluff Road at Nichol Road.

“There’s no place for a 15-storey tower in a residential neighbourhood,” added Wilma Boyd, a longtime volunteer on White Rock’s environmental advisory committee.

Naomi Ohlsson, who said she has lived immediately behind the site for the past 23 years, told Steiss that if it goes ahead, “I don’t want to live in White Rock anymore.”

Ohlsson said the project would impact her quality of life and devalue her property, while increasing crime and other safety issues.

Texor’s 134-unit proposal includes two-storey townhouses on the south and west sides of the highrise.

To proceed, it would require rezoning as well as an amendment to the city’s Official Community Plan – currently under review – which designates only White Rock’s town centre as high-density.

While the location of the proposed development – on three lots at 14022 and 14034 North Bluff Rd. and 1590 Nichol Rd. – is several blocks from the town centre, and amongst primarily single-family homes, Steiss said it “makes a lot of sense.”

In addition to being close to transit, not impacting views and needing few, if any, trees to be removed, he told Peace Arch News the “vertical subdivision” would provide a diversity of housing attainable to a wider range of potential buyers.

Building single-family housing for the equivalent volume of people would require about 13 acres of land, he added.

White Rock resident Dan Driediger, who moved to the city’s town centre three years ago, told PAN he fully supports Texor’s plans; that the project will provide options for those who can’t afford single-family homes.

“That’s how you create affordable (housing), is by density,” Driediger said.

Noting projected growth in Vancouver, Driediger said surrounding communities – including White Rock – have to share the load.

“I see it as nothing but positive,” he said.

Public meetingBut Janis Lowe, an area resident since 1973, is not convinced. She described the plans as “ridiculous.”

“Nobody wants it and nobody’s listening,” she said. “The City of White Rock is not listening to its residents. Nobody wants the highrises.”

Lowe also disagreed that the units – proposed to range in size from 600 to 1,760 square feet – would be more attainable.

“They’re pushing the average family right out of White Rock,” she said.

Residents Gary Wolgemuth and Fiona MacDermid said they don’t understand why city officials are even considering such an application before the OCP review is complete.

“They’re falling all over themselves to get these projects through. Why not do it properly?” Wolgemuth said.

White Rock’s manager of planning, Eric Shaw, told PAN by email that next steps for any such applications include an internal city review, a meeting with the advisory design panel and a staff report for consideration by the land-use and planning committee.

It would then proceed to council for consideration of readings and a public hearing.

No further meetings have been scheduled as of Wednesday, Shaw said.