White Rock council has finally signed off on a revised Official Community Plan for the city after a more than two-year review.
At its virtual regular meeting July 12, council passed both third reading and final reading for the OCP bylaw (which received its public hearing on June 21) with only Coun. David Chesney voting in the negative.
The bylaw essentially limits new building heights in the city to a maximum of 12 storeys in the Town Centre area and a maximum of four storeys in the Town Centre Transition and Lower Town Centre areas, increasing to six storeys where a proposed development offers a significant affordable housing component.
In the plan, maximum density for new development is also confined to the Town Centre area.
Chesney underlined that he was voting against the OCP bylaw based on one specific objection – that continuing to limit heights to three storeys on west beach is a disincentive for property owners to consider redevelopment of aging waterfront buildings.
“The only part of the OCP I can’t support is the height restriction on west beach,” Chesney told council, noting that members had not followed his suggestion of asking for a staff review of what actual impact four-storey heights there would have on views from hillside properties.
“There was no support for that – nobody even wanted to have a look at it,” he said.
“Basically we’ve just guaranteed that west beach will sit exactly as it is, so I won’t be supporting the OCP. I think we’ve made a terrible mistake as far as limiting heights on west beach.”
Following the meeting Chesney told Peace Arch News that, in conversations with west beach property owners, he has heard that redeveloping to three storeys only is no longer economically viable for them.
“Nothing’s been done with some of those buildings for decades,” he said. “I think it’s terribly short-sighted to keep it at three – it means that nothing new is ever going to happen there.”
There was only one significant amendment to the bylaw prior to the final vote, also concerning potential building heights in the west beach area – at the sites of the Silver Moon apartment building (1081 Martin St.), and the Montecito building at 1153-1169 Vidal St.
Coun. Christopher Trevelyan wanted to be sure that potential heights were limited to three storeys for these properties, which are not included in the Waterfront Village zone but are designated Urban Neighbourhood.
Planning and development services director Carl Isaak told council that a three-storey limit on these properties could be included in an amendment without triggering the need for a new public hearing, and Trevelyan’s subsequent motion was passed by council with Chesney casting the sole opposing vote.