City council approved the removal of the Memorial Park sign last September. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Mixed reviews for removal of White Rock’s ‘cheese grater’ fence

Business owners applaud city, resident questions waste of tax dollars

Some waterfront business owners are applauding the City of White Rock for removing and replacing the so-called ‘cheese-grater fence’ at Memorial Park. But not everyone is happy about the decision.

Last May, FIVE Kitchen & Raw Oyster Bar (15047 Marine Dr.) owner Gus Rachid and Primo’s Mexican Grill co-owner Joel Villanueva took issue with the then-newly-installed fence because it obstructed ocean views for patrons dining at their restaurants.

The original fence, which as of Tuesday had been removed, resembled a metal sheet with holes punched into it.

RELATED: ‘Cheese-grater fence’ criticized by White Rock restaurant owners

Rachid said it was nice to see the city act on criticism voiced by business owners, but “we’re waiting to see what it’s going to look like.”

“I fought for this for a long time. To be honest with you, nobody supported me except Primo’s,” Rachid said.

Villanueva told Peace Arch News in a statement that it is good to live in a community where people’s voices can make a positive change.

“We are now able to better showcase White Rock’s beauty with a more aesthetically pleasing fence. Going forward, I think the people of White Rock should have more of a voice before projects like this are approved. We are thankful to council and the City of White Rock for listening and making the appropriate changes to help our local businesses,” Villanueva’s statement reads.

Although the business owners seem happy about the change, long-term resident Charles Gardner contacted PAN to object to the city’s removing the newly-built fence.

“I was a little bit shocked they spent all that time building it and designing it and then now they’re ripping it all out,” Gardner said Tuesday.

“I could go on forever about the stories about living here all my life. All of the stuff that they’ve done, it’s just insanely ridiculous. Of course, we all end up paying for it,” Gardner said.

Gardner admits he doesn’t know the particulars of the project, but he phoned a councillor to learn more.

“I’m not happy about it… poor planning and lack of accountability for who makes these decisions and who pays for it all at the end. That’s my story,” Gardner said.

According to city documents, council approved replacement of the railing with a “vertical cable” option because it will “offer the best visibility, they are safe, low maintenance, at the best cost and will be a way to help businesses thrive.”

Council also approved the removal of the black Memorial Park sign located east of the park’s stairway and approved the installation of a stainless steel handrail at an estimated cost of $15,000.

“The City of White Rock recognizes the importance of an ocean view to visitors to our Waterfront. The City is updating the grated fence panels atop the washrooms in Memorial Park,” a statement from the city reads.

The statement says the contractor began work March 3 and is scheduled to finish at the end of the month.

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A guard rail, dubbed by some White Rock business owners as a ‘cheese-grater fence,’ was removed by the City of White Rock. (Aaron Hinks photo)

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