This is the first in a series profiling White Rock councillors who were elected on Oct. 15
He’s never been one to mince words.
White Rock Coun. David Chesney, who was re-elected to a third term during municipal elections in October, says it’s still early in the game to predict how the new council will perform or what to expect just yet.
Without any identified slates, like Democracy Direct in the 2018 election, or the White Rock Coalition of the 2014 election, and only two short council meetings in hand, no one has really had a chance to get to know one another yet, Chesney noted.
“To me it’s like a bunch of dogs at a dog park, they’re all walking around, checking each other out – that’s the part we’re at right now,” he said. “That’s kind of what it feels like. Everyone is being really nice – not that I expect things won’t be nice. I don’t really have any opinion yet.”
First elected as councillor in 2014, Chesney has lived in White Rock for the better part of four decades, remembering his summer vacations as a youngster fondly, when his Dad would set up camp for the family at a campground that used to be behind the Semiahmoo bandshell, so they could enjoy the best of the beach during the summer months.
He enjoys the still small-town feel of the seaside community, but feels the sense of community is “not as prevalent as it used to be.”
“I call it ‘the White Rock Way’,” Chesney said, remarking on how, when a driver stops to let someone use the crosswalk, people used to give a wave or a smile to say thanks.
“That doesn’t happen anymore.”
The physicality of the city has also changed enormously, he said, which might be a contributing factor to what he feels is a loss of a sense of community.
He’s passionate about affordable housing as well.
“A priority for me is low-cost housing. I don’t want to use (the term) affordable housing – that’s a misnomer greatly abused,” he said.
When BC Housing is augmenting people and supporting them to buy a condo with a combined income of six figures, “that’s not affordable housing.”
White Rock also has a disproportionate number of seniors compared to many other B.C. communities, and many of them live in the three-storey, wooden, walk-up structures along the northern corridor of the city, Chesney noted.
“Those eventually, are at some point in time, going to come down – it’s only natural, they’re getting toward the end of their shelf life,” he said.
“At that point in time it’s going to displace a tremendous amount of seniors in our community that probably are not able to pay $4-,$5-, $6,000 a month to go into one of the care homes that are being built.”
Chesney said developing low-cost housing in the city is key.
“I’m unfortunately saddened – that the Official Community Plan, which a lot of people rely on, is not worth the paper it’s printed on.
“I don’t think it’ll be adhered to,” he said.
“I was admonished time and time again to not get caught up in it, ‘it’s just a guideline.’
“Then change the damn name to the community guideline.”
He also thinks the waterfront could use some ‘sprucing up’, as it’s one of the main attractions of the city.
Many people choose to live in White Rock for the ocean views, he noted.
“I understand the big value of living in White Rock – the view of the the ocean – that’s why the highrises are here. Without that ocean, we’re Aldergrove,” he said.
But views aren’t always the only thing council has to take into consideration when making decision.
“I think we should be governing for 22,000 (people), not 20 people,” said Chesney.
He said it depends on who has the votes at the council meeting.
“My point is, with four votes on city council, you can do whatever you want.”
He enjoys interacting with the city’s residents, both as a councillor and because of his online newspaper, the White Rock Sun, which means he’s out in the community a lot.
Moving forward, Chesney is eager to hear what his council colleagues’ visions are for the city over the next four years.
“It’s going to be interesting. It could work out wonderful. It could be the biggest train wreck anybody’s ever seen,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a middle ground on this one.”