White Rock councillor questions process for highrise projects

Two of three highrise proposals in Everall neighbourhood get go-ahead from advisory design panel.

White Rock council and residents listen to a report Oct. 26 on status on three highrise proposals for the Everall neighbourhood.

Two of three controversial highrise development proposals in White Rock’s Everall neighbourhood will be moving forward to the city’s land use and planning committee after getting the go-ahead from the advisory design panel (ADP) earlier this month.

Applications for a two-tower development – 21 and 24 storeys – proposed for 1454 Oxford St. and a 13-storey building at the corner of Thrift and Oxford will be the subject of a staff review, council was told Monday by the city’s director of planning and development, Karen Cooper.

The third, a 13-storey development slated for 14825/35 Thrift Ave., will return to the ADP for revisions, council heard.

Cooper acknowledged the public’s “significant interest” in the proposals – all of which require Official Community Plan amendments and rezoning – noting the Oxford Street proposal, submitted by Elegant Development, has been the subject of more than 160 written submissions and petitions, both in support and opposition.

“All the concerns raised by the public will be addressed in the report to the land use and planning committee and council,” Cooper said.

A traffic study, is expected to be complete by mid-November.

Staff will then compile recommendations based on a technical analysis, public comments and how the application aligns with the OCP.

The application process raised concerns for Coun. Lynne Sinclair, who told Cooper she felt council needs the opportunity to “weigh in” earlier in the process.

“This has gone on a long time without us ever having the opportunity to say, in a somewhat mutual way, what we’re thinking,” Sinclair said. “A lot of time and energy can go into projects that may be for naught. I’m not predicting that in any way, but that’s the reality.”

Public reaction to the Elegant proposal has been intense since plans were announced in February 2014. Many spoke in opposition to the project at its first public-information meeting; a subsequent meeting a year later – subject of a controversy in which city staff provided the developer with names and addresses of nearby residents – also drew criticism.

This past summer, a 2,000-name petition asked the city to reject the proposal.

Questions have also been raised about the parcel of land on which Elegant is proposing to build – currently owned by water-utility Epcor, with a sale agreement in place pending rezoning – and why the city didn’t pursue purchasing the parcel as part of its utility-purchase agreement, announced last month.

Monday, Coun. David Chesney pointed to correspondence from residents Dennis Lypka and Dorothy Bower disputing details of land ownership dating back to the 1970s, outlined in the report.

“You will no doubt be responding to that, I would ask that council be copied on that response,” Chesney said to Cooper, who replied that she would.

Sinclair noted she’s received a lot of correspondence and that the issue has been “confusing for the public in the sense that people think” council is fully versed.

“I hope that those comments and those that were in Mr. Lypka’s email resonate,” Sinclair said. “I think we have to sort this out before we have more developments coming forward.”

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