Residents share input at White Rock Vision Fair

City-hosted event well-attended, as council calls for additional such forums.

Residents attending White Rock's Vision Fair Sunday take a look at some of the areas the city will be looking at when updating its Official Community Plan.

White Rock residents had the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas for the community’s future Sunday, at a city-hosted Vision Fair.

The event was held in conjunction with last week’s launch of the process to update White Rock’s official community plan (OCP), which will “guide the growth of our community and provide a policy framework and implementation strategy,” according to a city news release.

Attendance at the fair – held at the White Rock Community Centre, and included a booth at the farmers market – was “fantastic,” according to Karen Cooper, the city’s director of planning and development.

“It has exceeded our expectations,” Cooper said. “It’s the first time we’ve really tried to outreach. We don’t have any preconceived ideas at this point, we’re really looking to hear from the public.”

Attendees were invited to write thoughts on Post-it notes on a variety of categories, including growth and development, environment and sustainability, social well-being, economic development and transportation and infrastructure.

Some common themes were echoed among the responses, including opposition to highrise and ‘monster house’ development, the need for more tree-planting and the desire to move the railway tracks inland. Other suggestions included implementing free parking at Peace Arch Hospital, extending the promenade to Crescent Beach and importing “nice sand” to White Rock’s waterfront.

Denis and Carmelle Clements, who live near White Rock’s town centre, told Peace Arch News they came to the Vision Fair to see first-hand some of the ideas the city is exploring for the OCP, especially for the Johnston Road area.

The couple lauded the city’s efforts in reaching out to residents.

“I think it’s really good to get all these ideas and see what people are focused on,” Carmelle said. “There seems to be a lot of talk about monster houses and affordability, which is a big issue for a lot of people.”

The fair was not without some negative feedback, however; one Post-it note read “Fire the mayor…,” while another alluded to recent tree-removal on the Marine Drive hillside, reading “RIP The Hump, and the democratic process.”

Resident Helen Hesp said she was disappointed to see the work of city staff putting on such an event overshadowed by recent negative press about council.

“This council spends more time squabbling with each other than they do concentrating on the city,” she said, pointing to the poster boards and presentations on display.

“Somebody has spent months on this. What do we get? We get people on council calling each other names and acting like high school kids.”

Following Sunday’s fair, council congratulated city staff on a “fabulous” event during Monday’s city council meeting, indicating they would like to see additional similar events held in the coming months.

“We got some really good input, and I’d like to comment on having another session,” Coun. Bill Lawrence said. “If it comes down to providing more in the way of notice and information to residents so they can be an integral part of the process, that would be great, because I know there were a number of people that were not able to make it.”

For residents who were unable to attend the Vision Fair, the city has a survey available online at www.talkwhiterock.ca or in person at the city hall planning department. Comments can also be emailed to imagine@whiterockcity.ca

According to Cooper, a report will be compiled from feedback garnered at the Vision Fair and through the survey, and will be presented to council at the end of June. The city has set a target of 18 months for completing the OCP update, she said.

More information can be found on the city’s website, at www.whiterockcity.ca/imaginewhiterock

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