In a split vote Monday evening, City of White Rock council approved a rezoning bylaw to allow a multi-building residential project on North Bluff Road.
Councillors opposed to the Beachway development – which includes a six-storey 49-unit apartment building at the corner of North Bluff Road and Maple Street; 25 affordable rental apartments at North Bluff Road and Lee Street, and 14 townhouses on Maple Street, directly south of the 49-unit building – included Couns. Christopher Trevelyan, Scott Kristjanson and Erika Johanson.
Johanson, who started a ‘Save our City by the Sea from over-densification!’ petition prior to the project going to a public hearing earlier this month, told council that approval of the project would be “destroying” a neighbourhood.
“You’ve all heard what my issues are with this project, six storeys is the main thing,” Johanson said. “It’s great that it has BC housing attached to it.”
City planner Carl Isaac told council there are two affordable housing components to the project. The first, an affordable home ownership piece, would result in an approximately 10 per cent discount on the purchase price. In the rental portion of the project, a minimum of 30 per cent of the units have a maximum rent that’s been identified under a housing agreement. While the rent could be less, there’s a maximum rate of $1,400 for a single bedroom and $2,000 for a two-bedroom unit.
“I don’t believe that this is affordable for people earning a living wage,” Johanson said.
Kristjanson echoed Johanson in that “six storeys just seems too large for me.”
Coun. Trevelyan noted that one resident who lives near the property was able, in two days, to collect more than 60 signatures of people who were opposed to the project.
“Residents here have spoken very loud and very clear that it’s completely out of shape for the neighbourhood. It’s a six-storey building towering over single family homes and it’s going to be the first step to further and further development,” Trevelyan said.
Speaking in support of the project, Coun. David Chesney said he sympathizes with residents who will be impacted by the project.
“But if, I think, there’s any place that we’re going to be able to look for sensible housing, which I think is the goal of this council, our option is North Bluff,” Chesney said.
Council passed 4 – 3 project at North Bluff /Lee/Maple. It will bring much needed diversity of housing into our City. Affordable home ownership through @BC_Housing and rentals. Six storey wood framed and townhomes.
— Helen Fathers (@HelenFathers) March 10, 2021
Coun. Helen Fathers, noting that her support of the project did not come easy – “I spent at least a good two or three nights really anguishing over it” – said council has to make decisions based on the future needs of the community.
“I will support the project because I do think that the merits of it are valid. I think that we need different types of housing,” Fathers said.
Coun. Anthony Manning said while six storeys on North Bluff is high, it is optimum for affordable housing. He said global studies show that six storeys is ideal to make affordable units economically viable – anything taller, he said, would require concrete.
“The affordability aspects of the home ownership and the rental building in this proposal are solid. They are going to give our residents options and the sale prices and rents that are quoted by the developer in this proposal are maximums. The exact rent will be set, if this project passes, in the discussions with BC Housing,” Manning said.
During a public hearing March 1, residents both for and against the project made their case. Those who spoke against the project cited overcrowded schools, traffic problems, parking issues and construction noise. Those in favour of the project cited a need for affordable housing in the city, as well as an increase in density for long-term economic reasons.