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Pros and cons of White Rock housing development debated at virtual public hearing

Affordable housing need, traffic concerns among reasons cited for and against Beachway project

Residents both for and against a proposed rezoning and multi-building residential project in east White Rock made their case during an online public hearing Monday evening.

Those in favour of the Beachway development – which includes a six-storey, 49-unit apartment building at the corner of North Bluff Road and Maple Street; 25 affordable rental apartments at North Bluff Road and Lee Street, and 14 townhouses on Maple Street, directly south of the 49-unit apartment building – cited a need for affordable housing in the city, as well an increase in density for long-term economic reasons.

Those against the project cited overcrowded schools, traffic problems, parking issues and construction noise as reasons they were opposed.

READ ALSO: White Rock launches webpage to help residents track development

Caller Richard Coulter, noting he is a 30-year resident of White Rock, said he supports the project because “it provides a variety of housing” while Matt Weber, who said he represents “a majority” of home owners just east of the proposed development added that “there’s only one solution to affordability and that’s more homes.”

Weber also noted that, with regard to the six-storey height of the apartment building, it “doesn’t affect anyone from White Rock’s view.”

Ken Jones, who said he has lived in the neighbourhood of the proposed Beachway for 50 years, was strongly against the development.

“I and my neighbours have had enough of constant construction around us and everywhere we turn in our city. Give us a break from all of this,” he said, adding he was frustrated by noise and “constantly being asked by developers and realtors if and when we want to sell.”

“Please put an immediate stop message out that our homes are not for sale. We just want peace and quiet and not to have to continue to defend our city.”

Caller Mukesh Bhatti noted that his own 60-name petition against the development included only signatures from residents like himself who live near the proposed development.

“The results (of the petition) are alarming, as they should be for all of you, so please buckle up,” he said.

“We are not too late to stop this six-storey circus.”

He suggested there are “many aging buildings” closer to White Rock’s town centre that would be better suited for greater density and affordable housing.

Prior to listening to callers – all of whom were given five minutes to speak – White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker also noted that the city had received 17 written submissions – three in support, 13 opposed and one with comments.

Three petitions were also mentioned during the meeting, though those opposed – including Bhatti – took issue with one of the petitions in favour of the project, citing a lack of legible names, addresses and dates.

According to bylaw 2232, all petitions must include the date, legal full names and addresses of all those who sign, and a statement at the top indicating why signatures have been collected.

White Rock Coun. Erika Johanson also organized an online petition against the project, but it was not presented at the meeting. In an email Tuesday to Tracey Arthur, the city’s director of corporate administration, Johanson questioned why the undated petition was presented, while hers and one other was not, calling the situation “grossly unfair.”

Johanson told Peace Arch News earlier this week that she started her petition not to choose one side over another, but rather as a way “to reach out to White Rock residents to determine how many had an opposing viewpoint.”

The Beachway project – which has been in front of council since March 2019 – had first and second readings at a Jan 11 council meeting, and will return to council for third reading on March 8. If the rezoning is denied, the application will be closed.

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