A crowd attends the first public hearing on the Elegant development – which lasted for five hours – last December.

A crowd attends the first public hearing on the Elegant development – which lasted for five hours – last December.

Elegant developer ‘frustrated’ by hearing deferment

Residential towers proposed for White Rock's Oxford Street now part of a phased development agreement requiring new hearings

The principal of Elegant Development says he is “frustrated” that the public hearing for the company’s twin residential tower proposal on Oxford has been put on hold.

“I’m very disappointed,” developer Jay Minhas told Peace Arch News Monday. “Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about it.”

Rescheduling of the hearing is pending a City of White Rock corporate report to be submitted to council on Nov. 7, according to city administrator Dan Bottrill.

The hearing, which had already been postponed once, to Oct. 17, was put off just hours before that meeting was scheduled to begin.

Bottrill said at that time that the public hearing was deferred following legal advice to the city that under Section 475 of the Local Government Act, public consultation for the project – which requires an amendment to the Official Community Plan – had not been “sufficiently documented.”

“The city told me they missed some kind of procedure connected with Section 475,” Minhas said.

“Somewhere something had been overlooked or missed out and (the hearing) would have to be done over,” he said.

“It’s frustrating for me and frustrating for people who are supporting the project.”

The contentious project – which already underwent a five-hour public hearing on Dec. 7, 2015 before council passed third reading – requires another public hearing due to Elegant’s decision to phase the development of the 21- and 24-storey residential towers.

Acting planning and development services director Kurt Alberts told PAN the  phased development agreement bylaw necessitates a new public hearing of its own, as well as new hearings on the original rezoning and OCP amendment bylaws, as it is considered “new information that was not available prior to the previous public hearings.”

“There’s no way we can do both towers at the same time, so we need to phase them,” Minhas commented.

“It’s a marketing decision. The city said it was necessary to go to public hearing again. I have no problem with that, because we’re not changing anything (with the plan) – it’s a procedural thing.”

Minhas said supporters of the project like “the location and the amenties we have offered.”

“What they most like is that we are saving so many trees and giving land back to the city.”

The land for the project was originally purchased from Epcor, former owner of the City’s water utility, at a price of some $14.5 million.

Opponents claim the buildings are out of character for the neighborhood and will challenge existing infrastructure while threatening the White Rock aquifer – adding that engineering and environmental-impact studies have not been produced for the development.

That is disputed by Minhas, who confirmed all such work has been completed “absolutely.”

It seems likely that the public hearing will not return before late November, Bottrill  said last week.

Minhas said he has had no indication yet from the city when the hearing will return to the agenda.

“They’re working on it,” he said. “They want to put this to bed, too.”