White Rock council considered four developments Monday (clockwise from top left): Oviedo Home’s 13-storey plan; Solterra’s 14-storey plan; a waterfront parkade; and Cross’ 12-storey project for the Leela Thai site. Note: image updated; two of the four previous renderings pictured were revised prior to council approval. (Contributed renderings)

White Rock approves two highrises and ‘opportunity’ for parkade

Decisions on second Johnston Road building, official community plan deferred till next month

One of two highrises proposed for White Rock’s lower Johnston Road and a 13-storey development near Peace Arch Hospital have been approved.

And a second Johnston Road project is on hold for now, after an offer by a developer to reduce its height to 12 storeys from 14 prompted council to defer final reading of necessary zoning and official community plan amendments.

The highrises and OCP were among five controversial projects considered by council at Monday’s meeting.

Council also voted to approve “parameters” around a proposed waterfront parkade that Mayor Wayne Baldwin said “may be five levels; it might be less.”

The decision to defer the 14-storey Solterra application for 1350 Johnston Rd. was unanimous, made in conjunction with one to defer final reading on the city’s revised OCP, which had received third reading on July 24.

Coun. Helen Fathers asked for both items to be placed on council’s agenda for Oct. 23.

She suggested the deferrals following an earlier report by planning and development services director Carl Johannsen, who advised that staff had been approached by the developer about “their willingness to reduce the height of their building by 5.69 metres.”

Fathers said that given the information – which she said was new to her that night – she “certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable” voting on the Solterra application yet.

“I need time to digest it,” she said.

She tied the OCP decision into her deferral motion after Johannsen confirmed that if the revised document was adopted that night, it would mean the adjusted Solterra project would need a new OCP amendment application, “just by virtue of the zoning being inconsistent with what’s in the draft.”

Baldwin described the situation as “a new one…. I didn’t think this was possible.”

Council had given Solterra’s proposal to build a 14-storey mixed-use development on the current site of Deals World initial approvals in July, and a public hearing on the application was held Sept. 12.

At the hearing, dozens spoke in opposition, citing concerns including that the project does not comply with guidelines for a 10- to 12-storey height range in the area that are outlined in the revised OCP.

OCP and zoning amendments for a second tower – 12 storeys proposed for 1310 Johnston Rd. – both received final reading, with Fathers and Coun. David Chesney opposed.

Regarding the parkade – a city-driven plan for a five-level facility at Victoria Avenue and Vidal Street, with a projected cost of $11.1 million – council gave final reading to OCP and zoning amendments, as well as a road-closure bylaw and a development permit.

Chesney opposed all four; Fathers voted against a development permit.

The parkade has been a particularly hot topic since July, when residents rallied outside city hall.

At a Sept. 11 public hearing, just three attendees voiced support.

Following Monday’s vote, Baldwin clarified that the decision does not necessarily mean five storeys.

“That just means that we are looking at a structure of some kind,” he said. “At this point in time, nothing is settled, but there’s parameters and we can look at that and examine it and talk with people about it, so that opportunity is there.”

Regarding bylaws for the 13-storey Oviedo project eyed for Finlay Street and Russell Avenue, council gave final reading – with Fathers, Chesney and Baldwin opposed.

Baldwin said it “violates the community plan,” and said he wasn’t convinced that written promises – of including a daycare and rental housing – would be kept.

“I’ve seen that kind of thing come before us before and I have seen it not be followed through on,” Baldwin said. “The most egregious example would be in the Miramar, where there was supposed to be a Kwantlen College operation in there, which was fully endorsed by the college but then turned down by the province. So it didn’t get followed through on.

“In the meantime, the developer modified their design to accommodate it and the city approved it in anticipation it would happen. So I’m not sure a comfort letter has much value.”

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