A split vote has sunk a proposal to create zoning for triplexes in White Rock.
And while some residents are celebrating the decision, at least one councillor says the decision could hurt the city in terms of attracting development.
“What’s going to happen here is architects and developers are going to wonder if it’s worth the expense,” Coun. Lynne Sinclair told Peace Arch News.
At last week’s council meeting, Sinclair – along with Couns. Grant Meyer and Mary-Wade Anderson – supported a staff recommendation to create an RT-2 Three Unit Family Residential Zone. The zoning amendment was suggested as a means of accommodating an application to build a triplex at 14968 Beachview Ave.
While a number of residents spoke against the development at a public hearing last month, Sinclair said the zoning change would have created “a good housing alternative for the city.”
“I think it’s kind of the living for the future,” Sinclair said, noting the proponents were a couple, their two daughters and their daughters’ husbands.
“You’ve got this aging-in-place possibility and you’ve got family taking care of family. I thought it was a win-win for everybody.”
At the Feb. 7 public hearing, opponents suggested council’s preliminary endorsement of the zoning amendment demonstrated they are bowing to pressure to increase density in the city.
“I’m very concerned about constant pressure here in White Rock to increase density,” Buena Vista Avenue resident Rose Bratovenski said. “I feel there’s this constant mentality here for developers approaching White Rock, wanting more and more density. I’m afraid that the City of White Rock is getting a reputation.”
The amendment received first and second reading last month. At the Feb. 14 land use and planning meeting, a development permit for the project was also endorsed, subject to adoption of the zoning amendment.
In explaining the proposal, Paul Stanton, the city’s director of development services, said the new zone would be consistent with White Rock’s Official Community Plan provision for ‘other low-density detached housing forms.’ At the Beachview site, the only real difference the change would make is enable creation of three units instead of the two that existing zoning allows, he said.
“All of the site criteria are the same,” Stanton said, citing setback, height and minimum property size regulations.
Monday, Stanton reiterated that the amendment would only apply to the one lot, which is considered to be in a transitional area of the city – one that sports an eclectic mix of uses and densities all in close proximity.
He estimated there are only two or three other areas in the city that would meet the same criteria, meaning the number of other, similar proposals that could come forward would be “fairly small.”
But that didn’t sway Couns. Helen Fathers and Doug McLean, nor Mayor Catherine Ferguson, who all cast dissenting votes. (Coun. Al Campbell was not at the meeting due to illness.)
Ferguson said she believed allowing the amendment would be “precedent-setting.”
She wants to see a “big picture” come forward that better identifies which areas of the city would fit the zoning.
“Then we have a better understanding and the residents have a better understanding of where we’re going,” Ferguson said.
Sinclair told PAN last week she was surprised and troubled by the outcome. Being able to offer a variety of housing options is a good planning principle, she said. She noted the city’s advisory design panel took no issue with the triplex’s design.
Sinclair said she is concerned developers considering projects in White Rock could be discouraged by the lack of support given to the Beachview application.