A controversial highrise proposed for Vidal Street is going ahead, following narrow approval by White Rock council Monday.
Zoning and Official Community Plan amendments that facilitate construction of the 12-storey project received final reading on 4-3 votes, with Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Couns. Al Campbell and Helen Fathers opposed.
Fathers said she couldn’t support the amendments after hearing from residents that the project is “too much, too dense, they don’t like it.”
“I don’t believe this is the right time for it,” she said.
The project, proposed for 1467-1519 Vidal St., includes 12 townhouse units and 97 apartments, underground parking and public green space.
City staff in March had recommended it be rejected based on concerns with the proposed heights and densities, the loss of mature trees, the potential for traffic increase and the necessary relocation of a city-owned pathway.
At a public hearing in April, more than half of nearly two dozen people who spoke voiced support, predicting the development will help revitalize the city. Those opposed argued its height and density are inappropriate for the neighbourhood, and cited impacts to views, property values and a lack of infrastructure.
In May, Baldwin gave up his role as meeting chair to speak against the project and comment on support heard during the public hearing.
He described residents who spoke in favour as “well-organized” but noted in considering the input, “you also have to consider the source.”
Many who voiced support have, in the past, stood firmly opposed to height and density in the city.
Baldwin did not speak to the project on Monday, but had previously described it as premature and out of place for the area; a plan more suited for “five, 10 years down the road, maybe 20.”
One councillor who supported the amendments expressed concern Monday that plans included in council’s agenda package show two more units than the proposed 109.
Coun. Louise Hutchinson was also concerned that a loading zone was not shown in what she described as “sketchy plans.”
“If it’s just sloppy presentation then let’s clear up the sloppiness,” she said, suggesting the “housekeeping items” be dealt with by staff before council voted on them.
Paul Stanton, the city’s director of planning and development services, and city manager Dan Bottrill both assured Hutchinson that more detailed plans will come at the development-permit stage of the process. A designated loading zone, Stanton noted, is now a standard requirement.
Coun. Larry Robinson, speaking to the OCP amendment, said opportunities for this type of development will arise in the future and council needs to take care to “not just let anything be built.” It needs “characteristics that will help define it as distinct to White Rock,” he said.
In addition to the zoning and OCP amendments, council voted 4-3 in favour of giving final reading to a necessary land-use contract discharge bylaw.