Around 200 people packed White Rock Community Centre before the 2018 election for public hearings on two proposals for highrises in the 1300-block of Johnston Road. (File photo)

Around 200 people packed White Rock Community Centre before the 2018 election for public hearings on two proposals for highrises in the 1300-block of Johnston Road. (File photo)

White Rock council to renew focus on limiting building heights

OCP review modified to reflect 2018 election mandate

White Rock council has voted to narrow the focus of the current Official Community Plan review, returning to a concentration on building heights and density in the city.

Primary areas given attention will be the Town Centre – which in the past year has seen a spate of highrise building on projects approved by the previous council – plus surrounding transitional zones of lower-level development, and the Marine Drive waterfront.

Council unanimously endorsed the motion from Coun. Erika Johanson at its regular meeting – held online – on Nov. 23.

Johanson’s motion came amid discussion of the much broader issue of realigning council’s strategic priorities.

Chief Administrative Officer Guillermo Ferrero, in an update report, outlined many ways in which this is being done, at council’s direction, in response to significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Ferrero and Carl Isaak, White Rock’s planning and development services director, commented that limiting the OCP review focus, as Johanson suggested, would likely mean an earlier completion of the entire review (originally projected for the end of 2021, although completion of some aspects is already expected before then) although Ferrero said a further report would be necessary to arrive at a specific time frame.

Isaak said reducing the scope might also result in moving up other items on staff’s priority list, such as zoning bylaw review for single family or coach homes and the city’s housing needs report.

In making the motion, Johanson said the purpose was to reaffirm the campaign platform that she and other successful Democracy Direct White Rock council candidates (Mayor Darryl Walker, Coun. Scott Kristjanson, Coun. Anthony Manning and Coun. Christopher Trevelyan) had run on in the municipal election of 2018.

“It included density and lowering heights as one of the objectives,” she said.

“We felt that the OCP review was necessary to confirm our suspicions that most people don’t want the highrises, and I think the review is showing that that, in fact, is the case.”

The rest of the items included in the OCP review, she said, were “gravy.”

“At the time (these were included), I was new in the position; I thought, ‘I guess if staff has all this time to do all these points, then, why not?’” Johanson added.

“But now here we are at the end of 2020, we’re sending out to developers an OCP that is projecting 29 storeys, 25 storeys. I don’t believe that’s accurate, or that it’s going to last in this council – I’m hoping. I’d like to reduce the scope of the OCP to just the heights and get it done.”

READ ALSO: White Rock to review tower heights in town centre

READ ALSO: City of White Rock requests resident input for OCP review

Coun. Scott Kristjanson seconded Johanson’s motion.

“I can’t agree more,” he said.

“We had a very clear mandate, and it’s fantastic that we’ve opened up the OCP review to such a huge scope, but, at the same time, we need to get things done and show progress. I think, (to) Coun. Johanson’s point, it’s not fair to property owners to give them a perception that we’re going to allow 29 storeys, when really what we’re hearing from residents, I think, was 11 or 12 storeys, max.

“We need to focus on level-setting with our developers and property owners on what people want in their community.”

Coun. Helen Fathers said she also favoured Johanson’s motion, noting that other OCP topics, such as strengthening transit, and examining Peace Arch Hospital expansion were either moot, or not as pressing.

“I might not be on the same page as Coun. Kristjanson and Coun. Johanson as regards the heights in the Town Centre – I think somewhere between 10 storeys and 18 storeys might be a better option – but I’m certainly in favour of bringing it forward,” she said.

“We don’t have a lot of time left, and as Coun. Johanson has identified, it is most certainly what the community is looking for, some kind of clear and concise direction.”

Mayor Darryl Walker voiced some concern that some other OCP areas – such as “greening” the city and monitoring OCP progress – might be missed by narrowing the scope of the review.

“While I don’t disagree with the motion, and the idea of limiting heights, it seems to me there’s a heck of a lot more in the OCP, and in our strategic plan, than simply limiting heights.”

Fathers also said she would not like to see “greening” neglected, but Johanson said it’s her understanding that much of the work reviewing the town centre’s public space and green space policies has already been done.

Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said he was also “generally supportive” of Johanson’s motion.

“I think other parts of the OCP are important, but one of the most timely is height and density,” he said.

“There are developers and other interested parties wanting to know what the rules are, and that’s the most pressing for us, quite frankly.”

Coun. David Chesney, who ultimately voted in favour of the motion, said he wasn’t sure that there was a point to reviewing height and density concerns as public turnout to some OCP open houses had been as few as 25 to 30 people.

“I understand Democracy Direct’s desire to live up to their election platform,” he said.

But Johanson countered that some other meetings had gathered as many as 140 people, while Kristjanson said he did not view low turnout to some meetings as indicative of resident apathy.

“I think it actually speaks volumes that we’re on the right page,” he said.

“I think you’ll remember that previous councils had public hearings where there were a couple of hundred people involved. That’s probably because they weren’t happy with what was happening.

“Most people just want to get on with their lives, and if we’re on the right page, people will probably not show up in the hundreds that we saw four years ago.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White Rockdevelopment

Just Posted

Rahim Manji owns and operates the Hollywood 3 Cinemas in Newton, along with the Caprice in South Surrey, a theatre in Duncan and another in Pitt Meadows. “I think right now it feels different than last June, it just does,” Manji said. “I’m a lot more optimistic, with more people calling, more people out and getting vaccinated, so I think the comfort level is a lot better.” (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey movie theatre operators reopen and rejoice, even with 50-max capacity

‘We have been one of the hardest-hit industries’

A sign warning of a pack of coyotes hangs near 2660 Croydon Dr. (Aaron Hinks photo)
South Surrey woman sounds alarm after encounter with pack of coyotes

Susan Martin said three full-grown coyotes were lurking around her home

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police searching for Surrey woman missing at Centennial Beach

Wenyan Lan, 54, reported missing when she didn’t come home from a crabbing/clam digging trip June 14

Ian MacDonald, spokesman for Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Police Service launches public consultation campaign

This is to help the SPS form its first strategic plan

Outdoor vendors at the Cloverdale Flea Market are seen in this bird’s eye view image from the flea market’s Facebook page.
Cloverdale Flea Market to reopen

Market to open June 20 after being closed since Nov. 2020

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

White Rock’s Marine Drive has been converted to one-way traffic to allow more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (Peace Arch News)
Province promotes permanent pub patios in B.C. post-pandemic plan

More than 2,000 temporary expansions from COVID-19 rules

Most Read