Michael Armstrong looks over designs proposed for White Rock's town centre

Michael Armstrong looks over designs proposed for White Rock's town centre

Future of White Rock ‘down to political will’

When it comes to the future of White Rock’s town centre, there are many visions of what it should look like.

When it comes to the future of White Rock’s town centre, there are many visions of what it should look like.

For some, the picture includes more pedestrian pathways. Others can see a treed buffer along North Bluff, distancing the city from the bustle of the busy thoroughfare that separates it from Surrey.

Many who participated in the recent ‘charette’ agreed a town square should be in the heart of it all – a place for concerts and other gatherings that would bring the community together.

But while interest in transforming the uptown area into something better was evident at a community consultative forum held last week, optimism the vision would ever become reality was lacking.

“It’s obviously good to have a plan,” said Michael Armstrong, a White Rock resident who participated in the two-day charette in April that led to the June 29 forum.  “It’s everybody just waiting to see something happen. It’ll be beautiful if it happens.”

Armstrong was among several who gathered for the April discussions. He was among more than 50 who attended the White Rock Community Centre Wednesday to see how the ideas had been interpreted – and was disappointed to find a town square lacking from the designs presented.

He was not the only one with doubts as to whether the ideas would come to fruition.

“Historically in White Rock, the developer has been driving the engine when it comes to what we’ve gotten,” one woman commented during a question-and-answer period. “How do we guarantee this charette won’t be put on a shelf somewhere and forgotten? Where does this plan fit in terms of becoming policy that can’t be over-ridden?”

According to Paul Stanton, the city’s director of planning, that will require action on the part of staff and council to integrate whatever plan the community supports into White Rock’s Official Community Plan.

“You come up with a plan, you make it policy, you make it regulation – that’s how you keep it in place,” Stanton said.

It will also be incumbent on the community to hold the city to the plan, said Lance Berelowitz, an urban planner and architect whose design team is helping the city prepare the town centre plan.

“I guess it will come down to political will, as expressed by you folks every three years or so,” Berelowitz told the crowd.

In walking attendees through a series of design panels, Berelowitz emphasized the sketches do not represent a set-in-stone vision, “but a wide range of interests and ideas” for the area, bounded by Martin Street to the west, George Street to the east, Thrift Avenue to the south and North Bluff Road.

“We were trying to open things up rather than narrow them down,” he said.

Berelowitz noted less than 50 per cent of the land in the study area is likely to be redeveloped over the plan’s lifetime – 20-25 years.

Other ideas presented included extending Bryant Park north across Russell Street; increasing pedestrian connectivity; establishing gateways at each end of the town centre; moving city hall uptown; and implementing more traffic calming.

Berelowitz recommended focusing retail along Johnston Road, widening sidewalks and keeping building heights along the thoroughfare to four storeys, with anything above that set back from the main road.

Meetings to further refine the plan will be held, Stanton said. The hope is a final plan will be ready for council’s perusal in September.

Stanton said it will take at least a year to consider all of the things that would have to be done to implement a long-term plan for the town centre, and another two to three years to put those elements in place.

Mayor Catherine Ferguson encouraged citizens to play a role. She described the process as “our opportunity as a community to shape the future of our city.”

A similar process will soon get underway for the waterfront, she added.

 

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor delivering “virtual” State of the City Address on Tuesday. (Screen shot)
Surrey Mayor says city is ‘earning accolades from near and far’

Doug McCallum delivered his second State of the City Address on Tuesday since being elected in 2018

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey rink, Newton playground earn B.C. excellence awards

Awards presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

The George Massey Tunnel will be closed overnight May 28 and 29 to test the tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals. (Black Press Media file photo)
Overnight Massey Tunnel closures coming May 28, 29

Closure to allow safe testing of tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals

Missing Surrey man Bernard Grempel. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey RCMP seeks help to find missing man

Bernard Grempel was reported missing on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since Friday

Members of Whalley Legion Junior Band at an event in the early 1980s. (Facebook photo)
SURREY NOW & THEN: When the city’s ‘official band’ marched with Whalley Legion title

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites, events and people

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

The province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory Tuesday

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Dr. Euiseok Kim is the medical director of the new Abbotsford post-COVID-19 recovery clinic. (Submitted)
Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic opens in Abbotsford

New facility following model of first clinic which opened in Surrey

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Two small dogs were also discovered by the officer, one had died, and the other was taken by animal control and sent for veterinary care with the BC SPCA. (File Photo)
Body discovered in parked van in Mission with 2 dogs, 1 dead

Remains in state of decomposure, surviving dog sent for veterinary care with BC SPCA

Most Read