Tempers flare at White Rock development meeting

Proposed seven-storey building on Thrift Avenue met with opposition.

Residents look at plans for a seven-storey residential development proposed for Thrift Avenue.

Residents look at plans for a seven-storey residential development proposed for Thrift Avenue.

It didn’t take long for tempers to flare Wednesday at a public-information meeting in White Rock for a proposed seven-storey development.

Within minutes of the meeting getting underway at Centennial Arena, a heated argument broke out between an angry resident and the architect of the project – slated for 14937 Thrift Ave. – over the building’s non-compliance with the city’s Official Community Plan, now under review.

Shortly after, architect Gerry Blonski attempted to address the crowd of more than 40, highlighting White Rock’s desirability as a place to live, before being drowned out.

“A lot of people want to retire here, and the reason why we’re proposing this here is because there is a demand for it,” Blonski said, before being interrupted by several residents.

“Stick to the plan, you’re breaking the official plan here,” one man said.

“Why are we even here tonight entertaining seven storeys in an apartment OCP of three to four?” resident Hazel Stack asked.

As the crowd –  which included Couns. Helen Fathers and David Chesney – began to clear, Martin Street resident Lynn Kendel told Peace Arch News he felt bad for Blonski, who “had no right or authority to be answering these questions.”

Kendel said his main concern is the lack of infrastructure around the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

“Anybody who has driven down 152 Street between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. can tell you that we have reached and exceeded our infrastructure,” Kendel said.

This is the third project to be proposed for the quarter-acre lot at Thrift Avenue and Vidal Street.

In 2013, proponents applied for rezoning to allow for a seven-unit townhouse project with roof decks; the city rejected the application, requesting the applicant reduce the height and number of units to no more than five. In 2014, the proponents came back with a six-unit concrete apartment building, however later deferred the application after residents strongly opposed the project.

The current proposal is for 11 units in a seven-storey building, including two levels of underground parking.

Kanwar Dhamrait, of Surrey-based Oveido Development, told PAN Thursday morning that he was not in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, nor had he received feedback.

He said he’s aware of opposition to development in White Rock, but that this particular proposal is only one of several in the area.

Dhamrait noted his project is only seven storeys, compared to the 12-storey Beverley under construction on Vidal Street.

“We just proposed it and let’s see how it goes,” he said. “Nothing is concrete yet.”

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