File photo                                White Rock council members including David Chesney (at right) listen to speakers during the public hearing on the city’s revised OCP on July 10.

File photo White Rock council members including David Chesney (at right) listen to speakers during the public hearing on the city’s revised OCP on July 10.

Push for highrises not justified: Chesney

White Rock councillor seeks, in vain, for an amendment to the revised OCP, heading for final adoption in September, that would limit densification in lower Johnston Road area.

White Rock council passed third reading of the bylaw for its revised official community plan Monday evening, but not before a last-ditch attempt by Coun. David Chesney to amend it.

Chesney’s motion – subsequently voted down by other council members – asked that council remove from the OCP any highrise densification on Johnston Road south of Thrift Avenue.

He noted that the council has approved “no less than seven towers in our currently designated town centre” – the area bordered on the north by 16 Avenue, on the south by Thrift Avenue, on the east by George Street and on the west by Martin Street.

“Our current town centre will be fully under construction for the next three to four years – Lord have mercy on (those) getting around uptown White Rock,” he said.

Chesney added that in OCP open houses, at the recent OCP public hearing and in emails to council, “I have never heard any residents encouraging us to expand the town centre east and west, and no one I have talked to called for towers below Thrift on Johnston Road.”

He noted, however, that council is currently being asked to consider two towers on Johnston Road south of Thrift, and added that he expects developers to buy up the west side of the street if these are approved.

He said that the towers already approved for White Rock’s centre already equal or exceed the number of towers in Surrey’s Whalley/Central City area, even though White Rock’s population is only a fraction of Surrey’s.

“Our continued push for densification is not justified,” he said, adding that the “creep of development” should be an election issue in October 2018.

“We would be well-advised to let the current development run its course for the next three to four years… the council of the day will be able to make a much more informed decision if our ‘city by the sea’ can handle more density,” he said.

Final reading of the bylaw is expected when council meetings resume in September.