White Rock city council won’t be able to hear an impassioned plea from a senior to modify the footprint of proposed highrise condos on Oxford Street.
But Dr. Enid Verbon – who is concerned the planned development will impact her plans for a vegetable greenhouse at the Evergreen Baptist Campus of Care’s assisted living facilities, where she lives – said she has been told that her brief written submission will be passed on to council members.
Verbon, 93, applied Tuesday to appear as a delegation at the Feb. 15 council meeting, to speak out against Elegant Development plans, which would see two condo towers built adjacent to the Evergreen buildings.
City clerk Tracey Arthur told Peace Arch News Wednesday that “within the legislation time period” for development bylaws – the public hearing for Elegant took place Dec. 7 and the project has passed third reading – council will not be able to hear further presentations before casting its final vote, expected this month or next.
A resident of Evergreen Heights for a year and a half, Verbon, a retired gynecologist, told PAN Tuesday that she has been planning to buy a pre-fabricated greenhouse as a contribution to a resident-run program that grows organic produce (including tomatoes, potatoes, kale and other greens) in raised mini-plots on the Evergreen grounds. But she said she had been told by an Evergreen staff member she should wait until the final footprint of the Elegant development – which includes towers 24 and 21 storeys high – is determined, before building the greenhouse.
“We’re growing our own organic vegetables so that we don’t have to eat vegetables that have been raised with pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics,” she said. “The footprint of these condos is going to take our sunshine away – this is environmentally unacceptable.”
The daughter of a former Boeing engineer who became a naturopath in Portland in the 1920s, Verbon said she practised medicine across the U.S. and spent a 10-year spell in Alaska (where she piloted her own twin-engine Cessna and built her own sailboat) before moving to Pender Island and, ultimately, coming to the White Rock area.
“I also have a degree in dietetics and one in geriatrics,” Verbon said. “I know whereof I speak – you don’t forget.”
Challenges with mobility – she must now use a walker and macular degeneration has significantly limited her eyesight – have made it necessary for her to reside in assisted living rather than remaining in her own home. But it’s clear that whatever challenges she faces have in no way dimmed her determination to build the greenhouse.
“I will not lie down like a whipped dog,” she said. “This is impacting 200 people. We have to fight it – this is totally unacceptable.”
While Verbon said she believes council has been motivated to accept the Elegant development “as a cash cow” for the city, she said she is not proposing blocking the development entirely. Rather, she would like a reexamination of changes to the buildings’ footprint suggested by planning staff in November but subsequently rejected by council.
Arthur told PAN she has encouraged staff to contact Verbon and bring site plans to Evergreen executive director Stephen Bennett, to try to find a compromise.
“Maybe we can find a place to accommodate the greenhouse on site,” Arthur said.
Bennett told PAN Thursday that he had been unaware that shade from the Elegant buildings would impact gardening activities.
“I’m going to scout out the shade diagrams and try to make sure that the greenhouse is in the sunniest spot,” Bennett said.