The City of White Rock has approved a development permit for a 23-storey, 202-unit seniors independent living facility plus a two-storey commercial and amenity building in the town-centre area.
The approval came at Monday’s council meeting (Nov. 7), following a public hearing in which supporters emphasized the facility’s potential role in upgrading and revitalizing the upper Johnston Road corridor, while negative comments seemed focused on opposition to any increase of highrises and condominiums in the town centre.
But, as speakers were reminded by staff members and Mayor Wayne Baldwin, the hearing did not pertain to matters of height and density – the town centre is already pre-zoned for development up to 265 feet (25 storeys) in height – but whether the building fit in with the “form and character” of the area.
Proponents for PARC Retirement Living were also at pains to explain that the development – at 1554/64 Johnston Rd. and 1563/65 George St. – would not be selling condos but, rather, provide a retirement community of rental units around a centralized hub of services including food and entertainment and would be built to LEED Gold environmental standards.
Parking was also an issue raised by speakers, although the developers have increased the provided spaces from 100 to 120.
“At a 0.55 ratio per unit, that’s higher than the standard (for the city),” said PARC vice-president Russell Hobbs.
While some residents expressed concern about the fate of trees on Johnston Road, acting director of planning and development services Kurt Alberts said that while the project will contribute to streetscape improvements, the city has yet to determine what “form and shape” they will take.
South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Cliff Annable described himself as a “big-time supporter” of the project.
“I was blown away with how beautiful it is,” he said.
White Rock BIA president Ernie Klassen expressed “wholehearted support.”
Steven Christie was among those who voiced opposition to more highrises.
“By building a multitude of towers we are creating a shadow of darkness (in the city),” he said.
Bill Buchanan said his biggest concern was related to parking.
“There’s no consideration (given) to visitors coming to see the more than 200 residents and the traffic congestion that could occur. How is this going to impact traffic flow and parking in the area?”