Evergreen project ‘not ready’

White Rock council defers decision on Oxford Street facility

Proponents of a project that’s been on hold for the past four years will have to get their ducks in a row before White Rock officials will allow temporary buildings to be erected at the site of a proposed five-storey complex care facility.

Despite a cautious staff recommendation to grant the Evergreen Baptist Home Society a three-year permit to install a modular office in anticipation of funding approvals that will move the project at 1550 Oxford St. forward, land use and planning committee members voted to defer consideration of the permit until more definitive progress has been made.

“I don’t think we’re ready to do this,” Coun. Lynne Sinclair said Monday, in explaining her motion to defer. “There’s too many question marks.”

The Evergreen society proposed in September 2006 to build a $25-million, 120-unit complex care facility to replace two wings of its existing campus and expand capacity to keep up with White Rock’s aging population.

According to a staff report, a rezoning and development permit for the project has been waiting to proceed to third and final reading since July 2007, stalled by development prerequisites including approval of provincial funding assistance.

While Paul Stanton, the city’s director of planning and development services, noted the society anticipates positive news on the funding “in the next month or so,” he said staff have concerns with granting a permit for a temporary facility that may not be needed.

It was recommended on the condition the zoning amendment bylaw and development permit move forward for approval, he said.

According to comments that were included in Stanton’s report to the committee, planning officials are “concerned that this project may never proceed as outlined, and if so, this temporary use cannot be justified.”

However, “if and when the funding assistance is received, this could move forward fairly quickly,” Stanton said.

Sinclair said she was “quite surprised” staff would express concerns and yet still recommend granting the temporary permit.

Coun. Al Campbell also questioned why the permit should be considered at this point.

The committee supported Sinclair’s motion unanimously. Mayor Catherine Ferguson and Coun. Doug McLean were not at the meeting.

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